Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ready or Not, Here Life Comes!

Since my last blog posting, I’ve been enjoying the company of all three of our sons during the Christmas break. I drove down to the University of Missouri before Christmas to pick up our two oldest sons, Scott who is a sophomore there and Jason who is in his second year of med school. Our youngest, Daniel, is a high school sophomore.

This week I experienced one of those life transition moments as a parent , as Jason and Scott and I went test driving cars. Jason’s in the car market, and I’ve been impressed with his research skills in learning about good quality used cars from a variety of internet and consumer reports magazines. It’s his money, and he wants to make a good choice!
Great! So, we went to the local Honda dealership and drove a CRV small SUV and the latest Civic. Imagine all three of us guys in our family, over 6 ft. tall each, with the max at 6ft. 4in. Our sales consultant promised we could all easily fit in any of the Honda cars. He was right! After we got back, we talked and then the salesman brought out his sales manager, who must have been all of maybe 28 years old! What can we do to put you in a new car today, Jason? We all laughed and Jason said he was still doing research. Walking away from the dealership, Jason informed me, “That’s how they try to sell you, Dad.”

What can we do to put you in a new car? I’m proud that Jason is doing his homework and mastering the skills, with some of my help, to figure out what a wise choice will be for his needs. Mapping choices and decisions is a practical and spiritual discipline, as I continue to learn with my three sons.

This week I’ve been reading a great book, with the title: “Ready or Not, Here Life Comes”, by Dr. Mel Levine of the University of North Carolina, Director of the Center for Development and Learning. A few comments by Dr. Levine:

*”A particularly challenging period is the opening stages of life at work, the school-to-career years, a time that, although rarely thought of as distinct, may be one of the roughest to traverse. These are the start-up years…(and) most people are better prepared for their retirement than they are for the startup of their working lives!”
*”We are in the midst of an epidemic of work-life unreadiness because an alarming number of emerging adults are unable to find a good fit between their minds and their career directions.”
*Role models within a family are an endangered species. (6)
*”An adult must be able to chart her own road maps. They odyssey leading into adulthood can be a lonely and harsh voyage, especially if a startup adult is naïve and uninformed, if he’s never learned to be a mapmaker.”( 10)
*”Every parent and all educators want to believe they are preparing kids for the real world. But since that real world keeps changing, it should be obvious that teaching and parenting must keep pace …But are teaching and parenting keeping pace? I don’t think so.” (11)
*Mel Levine identifies 12 Growth Processes in the course of his book to help parents, educators, and young people discover insights into the question: “How Who I am and Who I’ve Been Might Tell Me Who I’ll Be.” (109)
*What I find helpful is the realization that, “Life inevitably contains launches. Entering a new job, getting married, having a child, or starting a business are common examples. Self-launching opens a chapter in a life story, a process through which we gather the tools we need and set off to do something more or less on our own.” (112)
*”How then do we ensure self-launching abilities are in place on time?”

Right now, in my life, I’m involved in helping three very important young men find the resources they need to launch themselves in life. I realize that I’ve learned a lot about doing that through the years from some important mentors. My own twenties involved self-launching without any parental help, because of the death of my mother and the estrangement of my father. In God’s grace, I’ve had the pleasure of making a contribution to my own sons.

Questions: Who has helped you launch in life? What was helpful? Do you agree our society makes it hard for young people to make a transition into adulthood? Why?


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