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Our children need to learn to lose.  One of my biggest concerns is that in today’s school environment everything possible is being done to make sure that no one loses.  This is done in the name of self-esteem and having children feel good about themselves.

In my opinion self-esteem is built by going through tough times and coming out the other side stronger, learning lessons from losing or tough times. 

One of my favorite thinkers is Buckminster Fuller.  He had two statements about mistakes or losing.  The first is “you don’t learn less.”  The second was calling mistakes learning opportunities.

We really don’t learn by doing things correctly.  When something goes right it certainly feels good, but we often don’t know why what we did worked.  On the other hand, when things don’t go correctly and we have to make adjustments, we know exactly what needs to be done the next time around.

When I was in Junior High and High School there were losers and winners.  When one lost, you either became hopelessly lost or you learned from losing and made changes in your behavior or work so you could win.  If not win, at least learning what you needed to do for acceptance of the work you were doing.

Today our children are taking another ten years in adolescence where they are learn what it means to lose and how to handle loss.  This seems to happen from twenty to thirty years old. 

I think there are two reasons this is happening.  The first is we are living longer.  There is no need to rush into a career when twenty year olds can look forward to working till they’re seventy years old or older.  The second reason is that we haven’t taught our children about losing and this decade of extended adolescence allows them to experience how to learn and adjust since our children didn’t have this opportunity in middle or high school.

I hear on a regular basis that we have an “entitlement” society.  I do think we have deprived our children of learning experiences.  But, at the same time many Millennials (those between 15 and 30 years old) are using the decade of their twenties to learn about work, winning and losing.

The challenge for those of the Baby Boom and Generation X is to understand extended adolescence is not necessarily a bad thing.  If our Millennial children use this time to experiment with what they really want to do for a career, there is a chance they will choose something they love. 

They won’t necessarily take the road we did where we just feel into a career.  My belief is that we need to be mindful of the entitlement culture we’ve put together, but not panic.  If we have developed a good family structure and support I believe our children will do just fine.

I think this conversation is part of family wealth.  What are your thoughts about this?  Give me a call or send me an email.

Josh Patrick

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Topics: wealth management, entitlement

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