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Why are we so afraid to teach kids about the real work-life world?

I recently signed up for an advice service called Jelly and was just occasionally contributing so I could get a feel for the platform, but a question this morning was too sad to ignore:

How do I get hired fast? It’s imperative because I might be a father soon!

I need a job 😩😩
I want to provide for my family 😞😞💔‼️

I offered a few words of advice I hope this soon-to-be dad finds useful, but it got me thinking about something a former colleague from Families and Work Institute used to say — we are not educating children in high school, or even in college, about some basic family-planning life skills.

She wasn’t talking about the standard home economics kids get, but the basics of how things change when people decide to create a family. I know colleges have college-to-career courses but too often they just focus on resume writing and finding a fulfilling job, but all that goes out the window when kids come.

Think of yourself. If you have kids, whether they’re grown or still at home, did you sit down and create a plan about money issues once the kids arrived, or did you sit down with your partner and figure out how to divvy up work and home responsibilities? If you did have the conversation, did someone teach you how? And how did things actually play out?

Too often it’s the women that end up with the short end of the stick of work-life ignorance because society still turns to the mom to sacrifice. Women have suffered as a result with lower pay because employers expect them to bail, and they may suffer long term because the guy they thought would be there forever finds someone else to enjoy their golden years. My pal Leslie Bennetts wrote about this phenomenon in The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?, and if you’re a college gal, or a woman thinking about ditching your career for family you should read it ASAP!

Clearly men also pay the price for the lack of understanding and planning, and it’s a horrible kind of suffering when you feel the burden to provide for your family but can’t.

The guy from the Jelly post’s situation sounds like he may not have expected a kid right now, but for so many of us, children come into our lives under imperfect circumstances. There is so much we don’t know about his situation. Is he still in school? Was he following his passion, music, art, etc., and making it economically until the woman in his life broke the news that she was pregnant?

These are all scenarios we would all benefit from thinking about, discussing, before we’re thrown into the work-family fire.

So, my advise to the Jelly dad-to-be just in case you were wondering:

If you seriously need a job by tomorrow, I suggest putting comfy shoes on and hitting the pavement. Knock on doors ASAP. But this works mainly for retail gigs. It’s hard to answer your question without knowing a whole lot more on your situation. What’s your expertise? What do you want to do? If you don’t know, I suggest you read an old but very helpful career book: “What Color is Your Parachute.” Finding the right job takes time. Finding a job because you need money right now takes you getting dressed and out of the house right now! And dress up even if you’re applying to a fast food chain!

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