Thomas Friedman Endorses Free-Range Kids (Sort of)*

Readers – Here’s a sit-up-and-go-yikes oped by Thomas Friedman of the The New York Times. Friedman sort of specializes in these, but this one talks in particular about how we are facing a “401k future.” That is: Unlike the salad days of long-term jobs and pensions, we’re in a new era of morphing and even disappearing jobs, so we are now responsible for constantly re-inventing/marketing ourselves, even as we must secure our own long-term solvency:

If you are self-motivated, wow, this world is tailored for you. The boundaries are all gone. But if you’re not self-motivated, this world will be a challenge because the walls, ceilings and floors that protected people are also disappearing. That is what I mean when I say “it is a 401(k) world.” Government will do less for you. Companies will do less for you. Unions can do less for you. There will be fewer limits, but also fewer guarantees. Your specific contribution will define your specific benefits much more. Just showing up will not cut it.

What will? Being flexible, resourceful, creative, brave and ready to roll with the punches. Which sounds like any kid who has ever organized a neighborhood hide and seek game — especially at night! As self-reliance becomes the goal, Friedman says, the value of mentors and role models will rise: “Indeed, parenting, teaching or leadership that ‘inspires’ individuals to act on their own will be the most valued of all.”

Does that sound like helicopter parenting to you?

Didn’t think so. I believe he just endorsed Free-Range Kids (though perhaps without realizing it!). – L


*Free-Range Kids will rule the world, say Friedman. (Just not in those exact words.)

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