We’re way overdue for an update here at Thriving, but there’s just so much gloom out there that it became difficult to keep posting all the stories about high unemployment among young people, student debt levels that push young people to bankruptcy (or, sadly, suicide), and the ridiculously high rate of boomerang kids, those young adults who cannot make it in the world after college. (A combination of higher prices and stagnating and even shrinking wages makes certain of that.)

Even those “fortunate” young people who borrowed tons of money to get their degree and found a great high-paying job now struggle to pay the rent or mortgage payment because they have those monthly student loan payments sucking up chunks of their paychecks. Since the government took over 90% of the student loan market, these folks are basically slaves for the government. I don’t think most parents dreamed of that kind of future for their kids.

There are bright spots. My personal favorite stories are those that describe young people who are fighting to grow their own businesses, or those who are learning to build their own tiny homes so they can live on their own and be financially solvent. More power to them! I also enjoy reading about parents who are developing homesteads and putting their teens to work on them. They have the right idea: all young people need to work. If that work can’t be found in the marketplace (and increasingly it can’t), then work must be found at home.

The worst outcomes will be seen among those young people who don’t know how to work, those who have been coddled and spoiled, and those who plan to live off the largesse of the taxpayers. Parents who put their teens to work are doing their best to make sure their kids don’t fall into those three groups as adults.

Many of the events I wrote about in Thriving are not even news now; they’ve become common knowledge. Just yesterday Bill Gates openly acknowledged that machines are likely to make many more jobs disappear. What will we do? No one can say for sure, but I still believe that there are things we can do to help our kids survive and even thrive in such an environment; you’ll find that information in Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality.

Top Stories:

New jobs pay less so learn to handle money well.

Some young people are learning to buy almost nothing in order to make ends meet.

Google employees have lived in campers or cars on campus to save on rent.

Cheap tiny loft apartments draw young people quickly, create waiting list.

He earns 10K so he built a tiny house for 3K.

Some teens are learning to build tiny houses in high school.

Home sales are hurt by young adults who have student loan debt and can’t afford mortgage payments too.

Study finds fastest-growing careers don’t pay enough to allow home ownership.

Temporary work has become a way of life for many people.

Job opportunities for high school grads.

Too many STEM workers, not enough jobs.

Will half of today’s jobs be gone in ten years?

There is a future in teaching kids to grow organic food. (Great video!)

College dropout grows eBay business into a $100 million fashion empire.

Another college dropout founds free code academy with 26 million students.

Here’s one young man’s impassioned argument against college.

Mike Rowe discusses the high cost of college.

Young woman dies, leaving her parents with $200,000 student loan debt.

Only 1 in 5 college students earns a bachelor’s degree in four years:


The Teen Unemployment Rate is Bad Enough Already!

One of the very best things that can happen to teens is that they go to work.

Work is an incredible source of education for young people. It gives them so many skills beyond the immediate task at hand, things like learning how to get along with your boss, learning to be polite to customers who may not be so polite to you, being accountable to someone besides your parents, and learning how to handle money you’ve earned.

But this lousy economy has increased the teen unemployment rate, and our government is likely to make things worse by raising the minimum wage. Read this article for some great insight into this situation. Then reread these three paragraphs, which every parent needs to think about:

It seems contradictory that the University of Missouri can charge youngsters $22,000 annually for tuition, room and board, yet it’s not OK for that same teenager to voluntarily sell his labor at a cost he and his employer deem fair.

Contrast this with a Kansas City youth lowering his hourly wage to $5. After a year, he’d have $4,680 less than he may have received, assuming he could have secured a job at the higher $7.25 government wage.

He’d also have a year’s worth of actual job training, experience and a track record to build upon. A year later at the university, and he’d have $22,000 in debt, three more years ahead and an additional $66,000 to borrow.

Fall Update

Folks, I’m so busy with other writing projects, but I just have to come back here and share info now and then. Since Thriving in the 21st Century came out a while back, it gives me no satisfaction to say that much of what I predicted in that book has come or is coming to pass. It’s a challenging time for our young people; more people now realize that the college degree is no guarantee of anything, and it’s hard to find a decent job and just as hard to keep one.

That said, here and there we see rays of sunshine. More young people are learning skills that will be useful to them. More adults are becoming aware of what’s going on in our economy and are trying to change things. Parents must stay up to date on what’s happening so they can prepare their kids for an uncertain future:

Sign of the times: nearly 6 million (15%) young people are out of work but not in school.

Study shows 25% of 18-24-year-olds only walk five minutes a day because of technology.

One opinion re: the most important skill of the 21st century, followed by even more opinions in the comments section.

For the budding entrepreneurs in your family: Eight habits of extremely successful entrepreneurs.

Good advice: Break up with the public school.

Why would teachers’ unions oppose background checks on school employees??

In some neighborhoods, “work has disappeared.”

Scroll down to a great list of skills everyone should have in case the economy collapses.

True story of how a family’s business saved their son.

Woodworking is a wonderful skill for young people. This young man  teaches woodworking on YouTube.


Barbara Frank


Weekly Update: August 1, 2012

News and Info for 21st Century Parents

Has parents’ aversion to sending kids into manufacturing forced companies to import workers from other countries?

Teens once found part-time jobs at stores like J.C. Penney’s; now JCP is ditching cashiers for self-checkout registers.

The humble binder clip is used for a wide range of purposes by those who tap into their creativity.

Looking for free-market economics and history courses online? Here are some free samples.

Like the U.S., the United Kingdom is finding that many of its college grads can’t find jobs that require a degree.


What Homeschooled Kids are Missing Out On

If you pay kids to go to summer school, won’t they expect the paychecks to keep coming all through the school year?


You Can Say That Again!

All we can do when we think of kids today is think of more hours of school, earlier age at the computer, and curfews. Who would want to grow up in that world?
(James Hillman)


So, how are you preparing your children to thrive in the 21st century? Check out the links to the left for articles and information that will help you.

See you next Wednesday,

Barbara Frank

Subscribe to these weekly updates via RSS or email: see your options in the top right corner.

Weekly Update: July 25, 2012

News and Info for 21st Century Parents

Life skills that are more important than a college diploma? Here they are.

Off-shoring the making of our Olympic teams’ uniforms seems a bit over-the-top considering our high rate of unemployment, don’t you think?

My alma mater joins the ranks of universities offering free courses online.

Ever notice that each week’s unemployment stats get adjusted (upward) the following week? Last week was no exception.

Worried about the future? Here’s some good financial advice for your entire family.

What Homeschooled Kids are Missing Out On

State makes standardized test harder, more kids flunk, so state lowers passing score. Why do they even bother?

You Can Say That Again!

Teaching is overemphasized in our society….Learning is the thing. Teaching doesn’t automatically result in learning. Learning requires love and desire, and when you have that, anything and everybody is a teacher.
Harlan Hubbard (painter, writer, agrarian homesteader)

Thinking About Homeschooling? Learn More:

Calling all homeschool newbies and maybes! Stages of Homeschooling: Beginnings is on sale for $2.99!

If you’ve been homeschooling a while, be encouraged! Stages of Homeschooling: Enjoying the Journey is on sale for $2.99!

Homeschooling a teen? Stages of Homeschooling: Letting Go is on sale for $2.99!



So, how are you preparing your children to thrive in the 21st century? Check out the links to the left for articles and information that will help you.

See you next Wednesday,

Barbara Frank

Subscribe to these weekly updates via RSS or email: see your options in the top right corner.