Raising The Next Workforce

Sometimes I feel I fight a lonely uphill battle against the “every one is a winner” parenting philosophy.  My generation tends to raise our children instilling the lesson that they can do anything, there are no losers and that mediocrity wins trophies. I heard a father being scolding by another dad for yelling, “Go!” to his daughter on the soccer sidelines (apparently there is some “no verb” rule), our school’s fifth grade girls’ basketball team parent assigned two “snack moms” per game (one for each half lest a child goes 30 minutes without string cheese) and I know an 11-year-old boy who can’t ride a bike.

Gen X’s in HR know all about the Gen Y’s. We read about them, discuss how to manage them and try to understand the challenges therein. You would think we would pay attention to all that while bringing up the next workforce wave.

I believe that kids should do their own school projects, I believe that 12-year-olds can trick or treat without their parents and I believe that we all lose sometimes.  I hope our kids gain independence and I hope they will acquire skills to accept defeat.  I hope that they will be manageable and able to cope in business and in life.

Mostly I hope that, as adults, they don’t live at home!

About the Author

Diane Prince Johnston

Diane Prince Johnston is an experienced entrepreneur with a background in staffing. Diane has participated in founding multiple companies; taking them from start-up ventures to purchase offerings resulting in owner exit strategies. Diane is a social media educator and speaker, volunteer mentor at JVS Los Angeles, job seeker advocate and career counselor. Diane enjoys beach living in Malibu with her 3 daughters and Havanese puppy. She loves to hike, write and read.



Interesting post. Are you familiar with Spiral dynamics? The “everyone can do anything” meme is something often talked about as coming from the “green” level. We have to be careful though that our reaction to this doesn’t fall back down to more base levels of thinking. Instead we should be looking how to grow to include the best parts of the “everyone is unique” spirit, in a larger “everyone has a role to play” vision.


John Lake

Here’s to a wonderful post and delightful/intriguing responses.

It’s not that much of a jump between “generations” and “generalizations.” We all tend to group people by classifications to best suit our approaches to them. Granted, it is a “bell curve” type distribution. With some “technical deviants/out-liers”on either side of the curve, but most tend to cluster toward the middle of the generalization.

Like Shaun, my kids (now 28 and 29) were raised knowing that their rooms were going to be transitioned into a guest room and den respectively when they graduated from college (or in their case, technical school). They frequently heard the line, “Who ever told you life was fair? Get over it!” spoken with firm love. My wife and I gave them the appropriate life skills to manage both good times and bad (they saw us model both), and blessed them on their way at the agreed-upon time. The den has since been retrofitted for the grandchildren.

However, returning to the sweeping generalizations…
I do appreciate their collaboration skills – they grew up working in teams, for better or for worse. But I have first-handedly seen the overall naivete (aka cluelessness) of the incoming generation. I have often seen Gen-Y employees shut down because they did not get positively recognized for not meeting a specific performance goal – they came close but missed the mark. They come from the “ribbon for 10th place” world. I have regularly witnessed a profound lack of strategic/critical thinking skills. If it’s not on a drop-down menu, they don’t know how to think it through. So, from my standpoint, it is the generalized evidence that creates the generalized verdict.

I recognize these behaviors so readily because my generation (Boomers) were the same way. The “Traditionals” said the same things about us. We wanted to “rock & roll the world” and not trust anybody over 30 (until we reached and surpassed that age ourselves). What goes around comes around.

Diane Prince Johnston

Shaun: Thanks for directing me to your blog. I’m glad to know there are others fighting the fight! Here’s to bedrooms becoming dens!

Melissa: Thanks for speaking your mind. Regarding being “extremely frustrated” by the generalizing of your generation: A definition of “generation” is “a group of generally contemporaneous individuals regarded as having common cultural or social characteristics and attitudes.” Hence the root, “gen.”

Elizabeth: Your post kind of made me wonder how much parents spend on adult children living at home. While one may “save” $1,000.00 living at home, is this really a grown-up version of protecting the kids from reality, allowing the child to put away the money while ignoring the costs faced by parents providing the housing?

Onmyownearly: I only we could see then what we can see now! I’m glad I made you laugh. That’s really all I want to do!


I applaud this post and agree without exception! Moreover, you have taken what is apparently a touchy subject to the Gen Y’ers, added what seemed like obvious humor, and made me chuckle out loud.

I am a Gen X’er. When I was 18, my parents moved away from the home where I had spent my entire pre-college school life. They did ask if I wanted to come. I told them “no” and have never lived with them in their home since (26 years). I am proud of that. And, more importantly, I am proud of them for raising me the way that they did. I did my own school work (or didn’t and suffered the consequences), I did not get a ride to my ball games in the mini-van (I walked or rode my bike), I trick-or-treated with my friends (not my parents), and I lost plenty of times and still knew it was not the end of world or anyone’s fault but mine…. All of these things made me stronger and I would not change a thing.

I am raising my Gen Y’er the same way I was raised. She will be better for it in the long run, even if she does not see tht now, as I did not see it then.



You are right, I am lucky. But keep in mind I was making the point that not ALL Gen Y’s are like what is depicted in the blog above. I get extremely frustrated when my generation is generalized (just as I assume all generations do) and find that it happens much more often with Gen Y right now since many are entering the workforce.

What happened to the days were parents supported their kids in making the right decisions – like supporting their children in the decision to save money instead of throwing it away on rent? Maybe I’ve seen too many of my peers fall into deep debt due to ill guidance and ill decision making, but I’d much rather have my generation be fiscally responsible – even if it means not living independently post-college – than falling into the same traps I’ve seen many of my peers’ parents fall into. While I might choose not to spend $1000 on rent, I find the more responsible choice in taking up my parents’ offer to stay with them until I can really support myself.

I think the real issue, and root of the problem, is that there are SO many of my peers in my generation (myself included) that cannot support ourselves independently post-college, even with a full time career. Is that because our parents raised us that way? Possibly. Is it due to the economy and the menial salaries some of us had to accept? Possibly. I just don’t appreciate all the blame being put in one place. The situation is much more complex and all I’d like to see is people realize that.


Melissa, if it’s a choice, than you are choosing to make it, not being forced to make it. The fact that you choose not to pay $1000 in rent implies that living on your own and paying the rent is actually an option, which you are not taking. You are choosing to live with your parents and put $1000 into savings, which is much different from the alternative being to live on the streets. Consider yourself very lucky that you have the *choice* to live at home and save your money, and that your parents are also *choosing* to allow you to do this. The fact that both you and your parents have *chosen* this option for you kind of supports the article, in my opinion.


As a Gen Y myself, I take offense to the comment about not living at home. While my generation has many faults (no one is perfect), the unique economic climate left many of my peers without a job and they had no choice but to move back home, or live on the street. Myself, I still live at home – as I work full time and am going to graduate school part time. I could not justify throwing away over $1,000 per month on rent (seeing as though I’m home for a maximum of two hours before going to sleep), etc… and would MUCH rather put that away in savings to take advantage of compound interest (if and when the market turns around) for my retirement.

I, too, believe that kids should do their own school projects, and that 12-year-olds can trick or treat without their parents (I most certainly did). And I didn’t always win when we played monopoly (I actually lost most of the time to my father who was a CPA… go figure). I did gain independence and I know I’m not the only Gen Y brought up that way.

While I do believe many of my peers expect too much instant gratification, I don’t believe living at home post-college is always symptom of how we were raised, but rather a choice many of us are forced to make.


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