Tell high school and college kids the truth about life

Published 2:46 pm Monday, January 9, 2012

Being a parent or grandparent today is tough work. Too many kids won’t listen to our advice, and for a myriad of reasons, they are less independent and pioneering than we were as kids of just a few generations ago.
Schools have banned jungle gyms so Jimmy won’t fall and scuff his knee, Mary’s not allowed to play dodge ball because it would be a tragedy if a ball hit her in the nose, and in many little league sports for the younger kids, they don’t even keep score because there would be hurt feelings if a game had winners and losers.  That’s the new reality for today’s kids, and that reality doesn’t teach kids much about life.
I usually don’t quote entire works written by others, but I’m going to make an exception and quote 11-rules about life that kids are not and will not be taught in today’s schools or colleges. It’s a good wake-up call for kids and would be a good reminder for those Occupy Wall Street protestors about the realities of life.
These 11-rules are excerpted from the book “Dumbing Down our Kids” written by educator Charles Sykes. In his book, Mr. Sykes writes about how feel-good fairness and politically correct teachings are creating an entire future generation of soon-to-be adults that have no concept of reality, and how this approach is actually setting these kids up for failure in the real world.
Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2: The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem.  The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
It’s a New Year, and maybe it’s time our high school and college kids got a dose of reality before they actually have to learn it the hard way.  To me that would be like giving them chicken soup…it couldn’t hurt.

Ron Kauffman is a geriatric consultant and planner in private practice in Henderson and Polk Counties.  He is the author of “Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease,” available at the Polk County Senior Center. His podcasts can be heard weekly at You can reach him at his office at 828-626-9799, on his cell at 561-818-0039 or by email at

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox