June 21st, 2015

Do These People Talk to Each Other?

Over at the NYT last week, there was this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/books/review/how-to-raise-an-adult-by-julie-lythcott-haims.html

Don't waste your time. It's a kids these days/parents these days article of the form, if you are anxious and your kids are anxious you should Just Get Over It article. You would think we'd all be intelligent enough by this time to recognize how unhelpful this kind of advice is, but no, when you are doing undergraduate advising as your second act (after corporate law), you're bound to have some clashes with parents who Think They Know Better. So when third act is supposed to be an MFA in poetry, I suppose we should have expected an anti helicopter parenting screed. Get off My Lawn! But just note for the purposes of this juxtaposition, that it is about being LESS involved in the lives of young people, where young people are defined as undergraduate years.

This week, there is this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/opinion/the-cost-of-letting-young-people-drift.html

In this, young people are defined as 16 to 24, and the group in question is conspicuous in their absence from our two primary institutions, school and work. Things don't go well for them, a study or three say.

Good news: the piece starts with a paragraph about My Brother's Keeper, so I suppose a reader might go, oh, hey, I should worry less about my kid at Stanford (altho how you do _that_ given the tuition cost and other high stakes I am unclear) and instead pour myself into helping the less privileged around me?

But really, I think the real take away is that parents whose kids are largely happy and do well in school and have good executive function should maybe be less quick to poke at parents who are trying to get their kids through college, even tho the kids have deficits in executive function and maybe elsewhere as well. You may think your kids have great executive function because of your parenting, but I'm betting that anxious parents have anxious kids and this whole executive functioning thing probably has a significant genetic component to it.

The balance of the piece argues for more investment in public education (yay!), mentoring, etc., as well as finishing the project of desegregation. All things we should be working towards. Perhaps it would better for all of us if we adopted Een Zes is Goed Genoeg, like the Dutch; it might make us more willing to divert resources currently devoted to making the already excellent even more excellent and send them off to bring as many people as possible up to contributing competency.

That Grexit Fear

My walking partner finally became aware of the term Grexit and the idea that Greece might exit the European Currency Union. I think this is risible, and immediately pointed out to her that if you look at how long there has been a risk of Greece leaving due to money problems (call it sometime in 2009 to today, let's say 6 years), it is actually _longer_ than Euros have existed as a paper and coin currency prior to when people were afraid of Greece existing (which started at the beginning of 2002, call it 6 or 7 years from then to the bust).

Really, it's like your friend who has a high conflict marriage. You're constantly hearing about how the partner did something Just Awful (and, hey, they probably _did_ something that was Just Awful or at least mind-bogglingly insensitive), but your friend doesn't ever want to leave for a wide variety of reasons (which, to be fair, are often excellent reasons). For the first few rounds of this, you're thinking, I should research divorce lawyers and figure out how to help with the kids' transition and blah blah bleeping blah.

But after a while, you're like, yup, that was Just Awful. Yup, you're not going to leave. If you can think of something I can do to help out -- including listening to the latest developments -- I'll do my very best, because that's what friends do.

If you're worried about Grexit, I think that's how you should be feeling about Grexit. And you should feel like Draghi is kind of amazing, to have stolen a page from divorce mediation, and having the various sides of the divide in separate rooms, with lawyers and mediators ferrying back and forth, so the opponents don't actually have to share the same air.