Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"absolutely not!"



I was considering some perspectives on


life


America


work.


There is sort of a "truism," or belief, that most Americans hear -- somewhere -- while they are growing up, or getting started in their adult life, and it is this:  that in the United States, each new generation does better than the one before.






It's a generalization which can inspire people, or drive them crazy, depending on one's point of view, and desires in life.  What does it mean, to "do better" than the previous generation?


Does that mean more money?


More satisfaction?


Are those the same thing?


_____________________ You could go on and on.  The idea, I guess, is "progress."


A Republican state representative who was a rancher said to me that he didn't necessarily expect that each of his children had to go out and somehow "make more" than what the family already had.  They own a lot of land.  I guess he felt like, Hey, how much "More" is there?


They had a normal-sized single-story house.  I guess you could say, Well, now the son and the daughter each have to purchase or build a mansion -- because that's "the American Dream."  (But what if they don't want to?)


U.S. President Harry Truman is quoted as saying that the best way to "advise" your children is to "find out what they want to do, and then advise them to do it."





A stricter, more old-fashioned theory of child management and guidance goes along the lines of the immigrant





(in an article I read -- June 16 op-ed, NYT) whose son stated his desired career path and the mom said,


"Absolutely not. 


I didn't give up everything so that my son could make minimum wage."  The son followed what the parents told him and got a high-tech, high-paying job, and still does the thing he really wanted to do "in his free time."




(Reading that anecdote, one can glean several different points, depending on how you look at it.  And two questions rise to my mind:  when the mom says, "I didn't give up everything so my children could make 'minimum wage'" -- I wondered, If she felt like she "gave up everything" then why did she emigrate to the United States?  But -- I suppose I don't have the whole picture, so never mind....


And another question I had was, I didn't think a person could assume that in the son's chosen area of interest he would make minimum wage -- I think you could make a lot more.  But I guess I don't know. 


Maybe some people in that line of endeavor could make even more than the high-tech-high-paying corporate job, but maybe not all.  In some lines of work, earning amounts might vary.)





A similar story:  a school administrator shared her experience living in a Midwestern city -- St. Louis, maybe -- where the Jewish students in her school had all been told to be doctors or lawyers. 


The ones that wanted to be something else -- a musician, a teacher, a fashion designer, a grocery store owner... had been told by their parents that they could do those careers -- after becoming a doctor or a lawyer.




Remember the episode of "The Cosby Show" in the 80s, when Sondra and Elvin decide not to go to graduate school (Law and Medicine, respectively) and open up a franchise "Wilderness Store" instead?  And Cliff and Clair have a fit. 


Clair refers to the Wilderness Store as "some hair-brained business scheme!" 


(Exclamation point is Clair's...)  Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable see the professions as being a safe and reliable way to earn a living that will put their children in the "Upper Middle Class."  They see having your own business as "a scheme." 


Mrs. Huxtable sees business as not only a less certain economic path, but as perhaps a little shady.  I noticed that at the time, and didn't agree with Mrs. Huxtable's view -- then again, the Wilderness Store was a franchise....




Setting aside financial income, and considering parents' hopes for their children in a more general sense, like -- what type of work, or career, would best utilize their talents?  What might they accomplish?  What can they contribute to society and the world? 


...Another thing people used to say about their children's future that we don't hear very much anymore is that "some day my child could grow up to be President."  There's an episode of "Bewitched" where Samantha says that.