Counting the Cost of Convenience ? Do We Even Bother?

The traffic getting my wife into work yesterday was much lighter than either of us anticipated. With the extra time we had, we stopped in at Dunkin? Donuts to get coffee. There was a line of seven or eight cars queued up at the drive-up window. As is our usual custom, we parked the car and went inside. And not surprisingly, while everyone else waited at the drive-up, we were served in about two minutes. It made me wonder if anyone even bothers counting the cost of convenience.

The more I contemplated this question, the more it began to sink in that convenience has become a driving principle in our culture. I suspect most never question the cost of convenience ? it?s become a virtual default setting. But at what point does convenience morph into blatant laziness?

Counting the Cost of Convenience ? Do We Even Bother?
Counting the Cost of Convenience ? Do We Even Bother?

That?s a question that we should all contemplate. The implications are virtually life-changing.

Drive-Up Mania

The Dunkin Donuts experience is hardly isolated. I?ve seen the same situation play out countless times at banks, pharmacies, and fast food restaurants. In virtually every situation, I find it much quicker and more stress-free to simply go inside the building and take care of my business.

Maybe I should even be thankful. After all, the drive-up windows are a big reason why the inside of so many establishments are virtually empty. Everyone else is busy waiting in line outside.

There was a time when drive-up windows were mostly about speed. If you wanted to get in and out in a hurry, you went to the drive-up window. But not anymore. In recent years, you?ll almost always wait longer at the drive-up than you will if you go inside.

But if drive-up windows are no longer faster, then what?s the advantage?

I?ve come to the conclusion that it?s pure laziness. People simply don?t want to get out of their cars. They?re willing to sit in a traffic line for 15 or 20 minutes, instead of going inside and getting out in two or three minutes. The payoff is not having to get out of the car, and walk to and from the building. Far from being faster, it?s an exchange of time for ease.

Use the drive-up if you think you must, but count the cost. It?s probably taking you more time, not less. And you?re also sacrificing an opportunity to meet and connect with some interesting people inside.

Gotta Park as Close to the Building as Possible, Otherwise?Otherwise What???

Ever see those people who, come hell or high water, they have to get the closest parking space to the building? If need be, they?ll even park in a handicapped space.

Now it?s possible that people engaged in this practice are so consumed at getting as close as possible that they don?t see the big picture.

But here?s what the big picture looks like to me, standing afar:

  • You work diligently to get the closest space, which usually takes more time than parking farther out.
  • You have to exert more effort dodging oncoming cars and pedestrians, the closer that you are to the building. After all, you?re not the only one who wants that close-in space.
  • You run the very real risk of being involved in an accident, or hitting a pedestrian.
  • If you park in a handicapped space, and you aren?t in fact handicapped, you risk getting a citation and fine.

Given all of the apparent risks that go with parking as close to the entrance as possible, why would anyone do it?

Again, I submit that the primary motivation is laziness. But it?s also likely that people who engage in this practice do it on instinct. Very little thought is given.

They can avoid all of that trouble and hassle by parking a couple hundred feet from the entrance, and walking to the building and back. That also provides the benefit of physical exercise. But again, we should suspect that that?s not a motivating factor when your primary objective is avoiding physical exertion.

Casual Dress that Screams ?I Don?t Care!? ? About Anything

There?s a rising dress code in our culture, particularly among younger people. Or maybe it would be better to say that there?s a rising lack of a dress code in our culture.

Example: You?re at the grocery store ? or anywhere else for that matter ? and a couple of twenty-somethings jump out of a car wearing PJ bottoms, flip-flops, and faded T-shirts. They look for all the world as if they just rolled out of bed. But it?s 2:15 in the afternoon.

Have you ever seen people like this? I?ve seen it in both Georgia and New Hampshire, so it?s not a regional thing. It?s common among teenagers and twenty-somethings. But I?ve even seen a number of people who I?m certain are well north of 30 in similar attire.

What?s up with that trend?

What?s wrong with that trend? Am I splitting hairs? I don?t think so.

Back when I was in my 20s, and trying to formulate life strategies, I listened to a lot of motivational speakers. A repetitive theme was to be ready for opportunity wherever it may develop. Put another way, put on your game face early each day, and be ready to play ball.

It was all about being prepared: opportunity usually comes by surprise, not by appointment. I took that message to heart. Even today, that I work from home, and could spend the day working in my PJs and still being totally productive, I still get my game face on early in the day. It really is true, you never know what?s around the next corner. Or the next phone call or email.

Overly Casual Dress Displays a Lack of Discipline

It?s also a matter of discipline. I fear that the younger generations aren?t developing it. They?re even repulsed by it.

More so than anything else, success requires discipline. It?s even more important than skills and talent. And if you don?t have skills and talent, it?s even more important. But that message is being lost. It?s apparently much more convenient to be ?comfortable? than to be ready.

How can you take anyone seriously, who?s over 18 and dressed in furry slippers, Pokemon PJ pants and a Superman tee shirt???

Imagine an unemployed or underemployed Millennial is at a bank and happens to run into the hiring manager of a company where she hopes to get a job, dressed like she just rolled out of bed? Opportunity lost!

She didn?t have her game face on, and wasn?t ready to play when the situation called for it.

Buying Prepared Foods ? The End of Cooking

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 43.1% of all meals fall under ?food away from home?. That?s up from 25.9% in 1970. Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly purchasing prepared meals even at the grocery store.

What this means is that the number of meals either prepared or eaten at home is plummeting. It?s hard to reconcile this trend, given the popularity of the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, as well as the popularity of designer kitchens. How is it that people are watching cooking shows on TV, and building designer kitchens, while at the same time preparing and consuming fewer meals at home than ever?

Typical American schizophrenia is certainly the immediate answer. We do things that simply don?t make sense.

There are all kinds of reasons offered to explain this trend. Busier schedules leaving less time for domestic responsibilities is the most common. Part of me gets that, and part of me doesn?t.

Not only does eating in restaurants and buying prepared meals cost more than home cooking, but there?s mounting evidence that it?s also incredibly unhealthy.

My suspicion is that it?s a trade-off of convenience, at the expense of health and finances. That?s a steep price to pay.

The End of Cooking Goes Beyond Health and Money

It also comes at the expense of creativity and self-reliance. For many people in many jobs, work is done by rote. There?s little or no opportunity to be creative. Cooking is a chance to be creative. We should hope that people would get at least that message from cooking shows.

Then there?s also the self-reliance factor. The more that we come to be dependent on others to cook our meals for us, the more we lose the skill to do it ourselves. It?s entirely possible that many young people are coming into a world fully expecting that someone else will do the cooking.

That?s tragic, because among everything else, it makes us dependent on someone else for something as simple as meal preparation. We can think of it as a voluntary surrender of autonomy.

“A healthy homecooked family meal and a home garden are revolutionary acts.” – Charles Hugh Smith

Revolutionary only because it?s becoming increasingly rare. Food preparation and eating meals have been culturally significant throughout human history. But we?re now coming to view meals as just another commodity. They?re something to be eaten on the fly, rather than as a celebration of life in community with others. We?re willing to sacrifice all of that at the altar of convenience.

Counting the Cost of Convenience, and Why it Matters (Because it Really Does)

It is of course human nature to seek out easier ways to do things. But once convenience becomes a driving principle, it takes over our lives. It even has the potential to change our lives in seriously negative ways.

Sometimes the harder way is the better way. The perfect analogy is the student who chooses to pay someone else to write an essay for him. The student gets the assignment in, and maybe even gets a good grade on it. But at the same time, he has learned nothing from the exercise.

Convenience is usually paid for either with time or money or both. But the bigger cost may be lost opportunity. Convenience has a definite insulating quality to it. It minimizes our contact with people and experiences. And while we mostly think that we?re eliminating unpleasant face-to-face exchanges, we may also be cutting out opportunities for personal connections and the greater financial and occupational opportunities they present.

In and of itself, convenience isn?t a bad thing. But at the same time, it can?t become a ruling principle. We have to count the cost of convenience, and that includes looking at costs that are not so obvious.

Can you think of other examples of where the cost of convenience is unexpectedly high? Don?t limit those costs just to money either ? there?s always more going on beneath the surface.

( Photo by dno1967b )

35 Responses to Counting the Cost of Convenience ? Do We Even Bother?

  1. HI Kevin. Speaking of appearance and clothing, have you been to an airport lately? It’s disgraceful. We had a 3.5 layover at a NY airport a few months ago, and it was so packed with people you couldn’t move. There was no where to sit, people sitting on floors, restaurants were packed, lines everywhere. Awful, I tell you, awful. It’s true what you said, pure laziness. That’s what I believe. I’m no fashion queen here, but there’s no reason for dirty work clothes, flip flops with dirty feet, dirty hair, dirty kids…I have to stop or I’ll scream. I won’t even tell you what I witnessed on the plane with a woman who had a cold…use your imagination. And what irritates me the most is when we showed up at the home we were visiting after flying, someone there asked why we were all dressed up! My husband in a pair of khaki pants, comfortable shoes, and a short-sleeve cotton shirt, I was wearing jeans and a nice sweater and a pair of earrings. That’s it…and we were dressed up! To use your words, success takes discipline, and that is what is sorely lacking in today’s world. Simple, daily disciplines/habits will make you or break you.

  2. Hi Bev – I actually thought about making this whole post about the way people dress, but it would turn into a certified rant. When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s things were a lot more formal. Yes, we were casual in casual circumstances, but not as casual as people are today. School dress was becoming more casual during the 70s (not the 60s though). But people still dressed well to go out to dinner, whether at a restaurant or to someone else’s house. We also dressed up for church. Business causal in the office hadn’t come about yet.

    Now all that’s gone, and I don’t think it’s a positive development. There are times, often unexpected, when you need to be properly dressed and ready. I even believe that the super casual dress of today is highly disrespectful. We increasingly look like a society that doesn’t care. It’s symptomatic of a people who have lost their way. I’d say even given up. That is, how people dress isn’t just about comfort (or lack of effort). It’s symbolic of the way people feel about themselves and society.

    Personally, I despise wearing anything formal, like a jacket and tie. That’s even to a wedding or a funeral. But I’ll be damned if I’ll go out in public looking like I hate myself or don’t care what anyone thinks. Right now, sitting at my computer at home, I’m dressed better than a lot of people who go out in public. It’s a matter of pride in myself, and respect for others. It’s also a practical matter. If a family member or a friend needs me for an emergency, I’m ready to roll. But I don’t think that the people who dress in this sub-grunge style (that’s the closest I can come to putting a label on it) realize what they’re sacrificing, and what kind of statement they’re making.

    I have an even uglier airline story. A few years back I was flying from Flint, Michigan to Atlanta, and there was a couple in the row behind me who were obviously out-of-control drunk. Now it’s late afternoon, so I’m suspecting that they had a liquid lunch, and just kept drinking, because they were kackling, slurring their words, and the lady couldn’t walk a straight line. This continued for the entire two hour trip. The whole plane could hear them, but I was at ground zero. They were even talking out loud about the plane crashing or a bomb, which to my understanding is totally illegal.

    It was a three ring circus, but the airline did nothing about it. That was the most uncomfortable flight I’ve ever been on, and it was all because of two people. In the end, some people just don’t care, and don’t hold themselves responsible. That lack of personal responsibility is becoming more normal all the time. Discipline and self-control are passe, and you can do whatever you want.

    I might do a post about how we live in a culture that doesn’t want to grow up. When I was a kid, kids wanted to grow up and be adults. Adults acted like adults (most anyway). Today, young people don’t want to grow up, and even 50-somethings act like teenagers. Look at all the Hollywood celebrities who are over 40 but wear teenage hairstyles. Argh – celebrity worship – that’s a whole other rant!

    I need to stop…

  3. I like your rant, and I think both of those would make good posts. Your second paragraph says is best…people who have lost their way or given up on themselves and society overall. Quite poignant. I have a family nephew who won’t grow up…22 y.o., never worked a day in his life, barely finished high school, a slob, lazy, addicted to his parent paid-for cell phone and reality TV…and his mother wonders why he is like he is!! I couldn’t tell you…could you!!! 🙂

  4. It’s called “killing them with kindness” when people treat their kids like that. They’re even hurting themselves, because a kid who won’t grow up and be responsible will be a lifelong dependent, even when they’re retired and can’t afford to take care of the “kid” any more. I’ve seen this scenario again and again.

  5. You touched a number of topics under the heading of convenience, so I thought I’d ramble about some of them.
    Casualness of dress when in public— Yes, I have seen all sorts of dress that makes me wonder if the person looked at themselves in mirror before leaving the house. My pet peeve besides the use of pj or lingerie as clothing is wearing something sheer enough that makes me wonder why put it on. I have been complaining to several makers of clothing lines about why I should have to wear several layers of clothing to not have everything showing. I come from that era when girdles and full slips were worn over underwear and then you put on a dress until they came out with Spandex which is just a modern version of girdles. By my point being, the top layer of clothing worn wasn’t sheer. You could hold to the light and not see the light. This sheer thinness has also trickled down to denim jeans. Barely 5 years ago, I brought jeans that have withstood wear and tear of being worn at a job that needed tough clothing. Now that I want to replace them, it appears even Levi jeans have become thinner and fragile not worth the prices charged. As far as dress codes go, I am all for uniforms at school, extremely economical for parents and less hassle in getting dressed for school. I believe the problem of not being dressed proper stems from a lessening of ediquette rules for different settings.
    Convenience of drive thru versus walking in—This I put on the reliance on technology and lack of interaction person to person. It is so much easier to use the technology versus talking to a person because that would mean you would have to actually look them in the eye. Besides a lot of these places are eliminating staff because of the higher minimum wage. Soon all of the personal interactions and everything will be done by technology. Please thank our millennial generation for that.
    Store brought meals versus cooking– Now that I have the time to plan and cook meals, I agree home cooked is better for multiple reasons but I see the lure of a quick meal especially if you are working and commuting long distance to work making a so-called 8 hour work day into a 10-12 hour one. You don’t always have the time or inclination to cook something that you have to wait more time to eat. For those situations, I recommend knowing what ingredients made that meal you picked up or had delivered, to at least be healthy in what limited choices you have available. On the topic of delivery,especially with rise of Uber Eats, try not to go fast food. For the same price, they are plenty places with healthier meals.
    Cost of convenience–When I was working, like I will be doing as a poll worker for elections, I will pay for someone to make my meals ( lunch and breakfast plus my coffee) because that day is an extremely long day starting very early in morning. But I budgeted that expense versus time. I make choices for convenience when my time is limited, not as the easy way but the necessary way to spend my time.

  6. I with you on the clothing Maria. Like everything else, it’s being made cheaper – even if the prices don’t go down. Interesting that you mention jeans. I used to buy only Levis. But that was back when they were very well made, extremely comfortable, and moderately priced. Best of all, they lasted forever. The last couple of pairs I bought have been a different story. I got both on sale, but noticed that they began to wear out after only a few months. I now rate them as maybe one step above JC Penny’s Arizona jeans, but refuse to buy either brand. I’ve switched over to Wranglers that I can usually get at WalMart for $18 a pair, and sometimes two for the price of one. They’re half the price, but they look better and last a lot longer. You really have to be careful where you buy clothes these days, the quality just isn’t there anymore.

    I get what you’re saying about buying meals when you work. But my wife, son and daughter have found that prepared meals are expensive and usually either pack leftovers, or they make something at home specifically for meals at work. We’ve also taken to cooking in bulk. For example, this past Monday, me, my daughter and her girlfriend made a batch of 50+ meatballs. This weekend, me my son, and his girlfriend are going to make a huge pot of ratatouille. We’ll get several meals out of that, including meals to take to work. It’s good for saving money, it’s creative, and it creates bonding. Oh, and it’s healthier and it tastes a lot better than prepared meals too.

  7. The dinner hour in America has become non exsistant. I place alot of importance on this hour. The problem I have, especially with three kids who all play soccer. All these activities are scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. Some days because we have kids who play on different teams due to age is that sometimes we are going back and forth betweeen games for two or three hours four days a week. On the non game days their are practices. All scheduled between 5 and 8. When are we suppose to eat?

    We also have to network alot for our business. Which means we have to attend variious functions. When are they scheduled? all between 5 and 8.

    Nobody ever thnks about dinner when they schedule these events or seems to care. I can’t tell you how many people I see nightly eating fast food at these games. Whole families eating McDonalds at the soccer fields almost everynight.

    Thank god my mother in law cooks nightly. She lives with us so we always have home cooked meals. We are lucky. Not many are.

    We have lost the art of sitting down as a family and spending time eating a meal. My wife’s family is from Lebonon. There whole day is based on meals. They spend and plan their meals all day. Then they all sit down and spend two hours eating, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
    They are much happier and in better health than us.
    We have such a rat race lifestyle here in this country. So much that I have considered leaving the country someday to live this lifestyle myself.

    I’m on a tanget but this topic of meals really bothers me.

  8. Hi Tim – My kids are out of school but I remember those days well. It was always catch-as-catch-can. Some days we made sure to eat before leaving home, and others we ate late. But we did eat a fair number of meals out. But one thing we did do is eat together, whether that was at home or in a restaurant. We still do that a good bit today, even with all the wacked out schedules.

    I’m with you, mealtime isn’t just about eating. It’s about slowing down, communing with family, and bonding over the breaking of bread. This has strong social and familial roots and implications. In modern America, we ignore this at our own peril. But we’re certainly not escaping the consequences. I blame a lot of the social desintegration on the lack of family meals. We somehow equate busyness with success and accomplishment. But I think that success is only achieved if you can get where you’re going in life while still enjoying age old practices, like having meals together.

    I think we can slowdown and we don’t have to leave the country to do it. We just have to decide what’s important, and drop everything else. Social conformity has become another destructive trend, and I’m moving further away from it, and that’s by design. In so many ways, modern social practices have become nothing but toxic.

  9. LOL
    Maybe that is a bit dramatic. I do plan on leaving the country. It’s kinda of always been in the plan for us. Since I have family living in other countries.

    We do eat together but it’s difficult to do. My parents had such a different life. It’s an endless topic. I would love to see us go back to more tradtional or old school ways of doing things.

    We have attempted to do it in some ways. Again it’s a whole other topic.

  10. It’s interesting you’re talking about leaving the country. When my kids got out of high school I urged them to learn a foreign language. My thinking – and what I told them – is that they’re part of the first generation in American history for whom moving out of America would be common. In previous generations, people flocked to America, and nobody who was here ever left.

    But today it’s shifting. Older people are retiring to Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica. Younger people, with strong computer or internet skills, are globe trotting. There are American ex-pat communities all over the world. Now that living standards have largely flattened out across the globe, people have become more mobile. It’s no longer certain you’ll live in one country. The Europeans have been doing this for centuries, and now Americans are gradually joining in.

    In an interesting turn of events, years ago I had a mortgage client who had emigrated to the US from Poland. He’d come here during the early 1980s when Poland was controlled by the Soviet communists. But after more than 25 years in the US, he became increasingly convinced that as freedom had grown in Poland since the Soviet withdrawal, it had declined in the US. He was contemplating going back because he believed that there was more freedom in Poland than the US. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I can certainly consider the possibility.

    The point is, life isn’t static, and things change over time. We’re certainly seeing that with the social disintegration here. 50 years ago we had a lot of the “old time values”. Today, we seem to have no values any more.

  11. I can se this thinking in someone who has not become totally immersed as a citizen here. Okay, you don’t need to be a lackey for a politican, but you should have an active interest in your local area ( know your neighbors and what goes on in neighborhood). I find too many people around who ignore who lives next door except when they do something like complain about where you park your car. I see that especially in the winter, when people delay shoveling snow until way after the snow has stopped and the sidewalk is solid ice. Even better if you clean out your parking spot after clearing the snow off car, they take your nicely cleaned spot for their car and leave their uncleaned spot ful of hard frozen snow. In my city, the plows don’t come out in ful force until after the snow stops, so if you are a diligent person you can get the snow removed from the parking area before the plows bury the spot.
    Because of the multiple cultures in my neighborhood, I know that there are differences in how people view things but we all live on the same block and should work together to keep neighborhood safe. But I can’t even get any of the young to help out ( for pay) to shovel snow..
    Maybe this is why some people who came here from other places want to go back–because they would have to become part of the neighborhood and they never intended to do that. Well,I say, good riddance, as they didn’t ever want to stay here, they wanted to get what they could and return to wherever and live better, because costs are cheaper. We who live here, have been allowing this to happen because of the tendency to not know who or what goes on outside our home setting. How many kids do you see playing with each other outside of school or an organized sport activity. Even Little League, no longer lets lesser skilled players learn how to play, those get the pleasure of wearing the uniform only as only the better talented players play ball.
    I got a few brochures over the years, describing how luxurious I could live outside the US, but I read the fine print, too. You are stuck in a secured area only. Anything outside that is at your own risk. ( think like living only inside a gated area)
    I plan to make my area better even if the leftists think I am crazy. I’d rather be the crazy one than the sheep.

  12. Again,
    Intereting comments. I can tell you this. The people that I know who live overseas all tell me the same thing. They never would move here. Many comments I’ve heard basically are the same thing. There are too many rules in America.
    We are not a free country. Not anymore. We don’t realize it because most of us our afraid to travel overseas and find out. I find it interesting that when I do leave the country I feel totally different. It’s like someone removed some indivisable black cloud of stress that exsists here.

    There are many many places all around the world that our three to four times cheaper. Visually stunning and more advanced in a lot of different areas.
    The opportunities don’t exsist here like they used to.

    I’m getting off topic. The old time values don’t exsist here anymore. Just the common courtesy of the way we treat each other is terrible. There is so little respect for each other now than I ever remember in my life.

    These our all great topics for future blogs. My mind is endless. Hope I am not to much of a pain in the A–.

  13. The reason the “old” values don’t exist is that the younger generation has never been demanded responsiblity for things we (older generation) do. We don’t even discuss things in conversation because everything is twisted by selective hearing. I cal that not paying attention.
    We have rights, all of us, and no one has the right to use violence to overcome another. The only one standing in the way of our living free is how we react to others. I have 2 milliennel children who don’t feel the government owes them benefits and demand being paid for their contributions to job and don’t with co- workers who only just show up to work and not contribute.
    I also encouraged them to know who their elected officials are and to be active voters. Plus I taught them how to pay correct amount of taxes without cheating the system.
    All of this is not hurting my rights to be free. If you find the tax system the problem, then you complain to those lazy elected officials to change the tax system. Moving away doesn’t solve anything.

  14. Hi Maria – I also add that the education system has a big hand in the disappearance of values. They teach as though they’re the possessors of the ultimate truth, which is handed down from on high (from the authorities). They also at least subliminally infer that the “old” ways were corrupt and hurtful to certain parties. That’s throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    I see what you do with young people, but I don’t think it’s their fault. In the past 25 years or so they’ve been protected to their own detriment. As children nothing has been asked of them (unless it’s related to education). Then as adults, they’re expected to magically “get it”. What we’re seeing is totally predictable. When you think you’re the center of the universe, and anything more than 10 or 20 years old is ancient and obsolete, you gain nothing from collective human existence.

    I’m not saying everything old is good, but neither is it bad. And it all helped to guide humanity for generations. Now we’re supposed to pretend that we’re something new under the sun, and the “old rules” don’t apply? That’s a recipe for the disaster we’re witnessing.

  15. Aren’t we the generation that has raised these kids? We have created a culture here that says don’t worry the governement will take care of you.
    There are no three or four generations of welfare. Free cell phones, food stamps, heat and electric relief. I personally know people who have had four, five, six kids because they get paid more by the state per kid.

    What are we teaching anybody by that? The people who do work and pay there taxes pay for all that. After awhile it takes the incentive away from everybody to earn more or work harder.
    Why should I when my taxes go up every year while joe welfare gets a new cell phone on the governemnt (us). Governemnt doesn’t exsist without picking the pocket of it’s citizens.

    We have been zapped of strength, integrity etc etc by all this. I believe that we are starting to witness the begining stages of a crumbling empire. No empire has stood for ever. This one won’t either.

    I’m sorry to say it. At this point of my life. I’m 53. I’m tired and basically looking for a life boat.

    I know this isn’t very positive. I blame our generation for alot of whet I see from young people. I’m sure your a great parent but 1 out of every 100 isn’t gonna cut it.

    Sorry for all the comments. This wasn’t the orginal point of the blog. Which was on point as usual.

  16. This may sound like an oversimplification Tim, but I think TV has a lot to do with the parenting style of our generation. I even wrote an article about it a couple of years ago (How The Brady Bunch Destroyed Parenting For a Generation). I think so many baby boomers took the TV parenting messages to seriously (if only subliminally), then decided that they were the better way. In the process, we abandoned discipline and even made it illegal on many levels, coddled kids, tried to be their friends rather than parents, and denied them the authority that kids need.

    As that played out, government filled the void, acting as both benefactor through benefits, welfare and “disability”, and disciplinarian, which has resulted in the US having the highest rate of incarceration in the world. I agree, all these things are pointing to the end of the empire.

  17. And then we wonder why convenience is so rated high. We can only hope as this group of millennials realizes as they enter into the delayed more adult activities like home ownership and parenthood, they will realize some of the things , that us oldies commented on, while they were growing up, are actually right.
    Maybe, they won’t make that umbrella parenting mistake and overdoing everything to make life easier for the kids routine. I am not suggesting we step back into the 1950’s style of parenting either but a way of dealing with life less stressful on both parents.
    Some how, the US business programs for work have to change. Work schedules have to become more flexible to fit everyone’s needs. Having children should not put a detriment on a career (male or female), We also need a better standard of living in the US without going into a Communist state of everyone equal, by having free enterprise, where one earns by work effort, not just by right. How else do we better ourselves?
    Anyone who made money from nothing gets my respect.

  18. I remember reading a comment from Robert Bork, the supreme court nominee who was turned down by the senate. He once said “there’s nothing morally wrong with America that a good depression won’t cure”. I have to agree. Our problems center on the fact that things have been too easy for too long. No one has to make hard choices. That breeds a softness that doesn’t serve an individual or a society well. Not that things are really great now, but we seem to have learned to submerse ourselves in easy as a way of hiding from reality. Missing a few meals, sleeping in a cold room, and having the electricity turned off for non-payment could go a long way toward fixing what’s wrong socially and cultural. It’s called a cold dose of reality. We’re long overdue.

    I like the saying, “God sees the truth, but He waits”. Which is to say, this will all work out in due course, only not the way we’d like it to happen. Alas, people don’t behave just because. They behave when they have no other choice. A friend of mine once wondered aloud if Sodom and Gomorrah could have possibly been worse than we are today. It’s an as yet unresolved question.

  19. I had TV growing up. We had three channels. I don’t remember watching it except for after school for about an hour and after dinner I remember watching the news that my father had on. I can still remember watching some of the vietnam war on the news.

    My parents were very strict. They were not my friend. I never looked at them like that. I basically have raised my kids the same way. I can remember going to my grandmothers and my sister and I disappeared. It was adult time and they had no problem telling us to leave.

    It didn’t ruin me. It made me become more reliant on myself. I didn’t go to them when I had problems unless I had to. I figured it out on my own. They were there if I needed.

    I cannot agree more. We are so spoiled in America. We have had it too good for too long. We have lost touch with reality in many ways.
    We are due for a major fall. I believe it’s been coming for a long time. I welcome it to be honest. It’s time for a huge dose of reality here in this country.

  20. Tim – We’ve gone full circle from “children should be seen and not heard” to children at the center of the universe. Which method has produced more well adjusted kids?

  21. Sad but true, perhaps with these hurricanes and the cleanup/rebuild effort afterwards we might see some realization of reality. Right now I am praying that my daughter and family ride out Irma, in Orlando while Irma hits the area. Last I heard from her, they were all inside and it was already raining hard and that was at 11 this morning. If I send any aid down it will be directly to her, not any charity organization.
    But based on what I have seen of the residents both left down there and the ones who left, there’s a whole lot of self-centered people. I saw young people who left their aging parents down in Florida and flew North. Plus the ones lined up for the shelters were complaining about having to wait and expect hotel services.
    Let me stop here. We need to stop be dependent.

  22. It would be nice to say that we’d collectively learn something of value from Harvey and Irma and whatever will come next. But then there’s FEMA, so no lesson is ever learned. This is how insulation becomes toxic, and we have it society wide, and have for decades.

  23. I would say the way I was raised was much better in the long run. I learned how to do things on my own. My parents never bought me a car. Never paid for my insurance. If I wanted to go to college I was on my own. I never went but they would not have paid.

    When I finished high school I went and got a job and started paying my own way. They never gave me money. If I wanted sometihng I had to figure out how to earn it on my own.

    I’m not going to say that I wasn’t mad at certian times. Especially when I saw my friends getting money or things from their parents. Turns out though that I surpassed them all in the long run.

    I’m not sure when it changed. I do not consider my kids friends at all. I’m their father. My job is to prepare them for the world. That’s always been my focus. I do not want them here once their out of high school. They have been told this from a early age.
    I’m always here for advice but I’m not a bank.

    No Kevin
    The old way in my opinion is still the best way. There were things I didn’t understand back then but I do now. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  24. I agree Tim, the old way was better. For example, so few kids now work before graduating from school and college, that it seems that many have lost the connection between work and earning a living. A living is seen as a “right”, while work is optional. That’s what happens with a pampered and protected youth.

    One of my first jobs, when I was still in high school, was at the A&P. Now I lived in an upper middle class town, which is relevant to this story. One night I was talking with two of the assistant managers, and they both said that they would rather manage a store in a working class community. They said that in an upper middle class town, the kids weren’t motivated. One of the managers said that kids in our town only worked for pocket money, and if they didn’t need any that week to go to a concert or whatever, they didn’t show up to work (he was right about this). They both said that in working class towns kids were working to save money to buy a car, move to an apartment or pay for school. Grown up stuff, rather than fun stuff.

    40 years later, it seems as if most kids are coddled by their parents, even if their parents aren’t rich. I even read an article on this a few years back. Most people today indulge their kids, and don’t expect them to contribute or work, even in working class households. It’s like mass insanity!

  25. This topic came up the other day in my house. My oldest son ( Who is in 10 grade ) had a problem with his schedule at school. My wife wanted to call the school and I wouldn’t let her.
    I left it up to my son to go and figure it out. He needs to learn how to deal with his problems without my help.

    I hate excuses. He tried all that early on. My teacher hates me, etc etc. I told him basically that I didn’t want to hear it. There will always be people in life you have to deal with that you dislike or they dislike you. It never ends. He needs to learn that now !!

    He never makes an excuse anymore for anything. He knows I don’t want to hear it. He knows I won’t help him. He has matured beyond my expectations. He basically is a man already.
    I believe it is a direct result of this approach.

  26. I think I got too involved with my son when he was in school. But I also think he needed it. I think. But as soon as he got out of high school, I backed off and told him he needs to fly solo. It’s taken a while, but he’s finally cut the umbilical cord. In fact, he’s developed a toughness in the face of troubles that I don’t see in a whole lot of young adults. He still consults with me when he’s up against something, and I’ll get involved if it’s something that I think is beyond him, but in most cases he’s pretty autonomous.

    My daughter, on the other hand, has been self-reliant from a very young age, and still is, way beyond her peers and even than people older than her. She has superb people skills and money management skills. I can’t exactly say my wife and I taught her that, but she has said that she learned by watching us. Again, she frequently consults with me over situations, and I will get involved where necessary. But that isn’t too often.

  27. Looks like there’s more people who were raised that way, Tom, and we didn’t just come from another country. It all comes down to values emphasized by parents. Yes , there was a big push on ” white collar ” work which also came with nice high income and these individuals strived to make sure their children lacked for nothing, but forgot to teach the value of waiting to get something.
    All of us commenting on this blog put a value of earning money by working hard and any purchases are made with thought not on impulse. We also believe in having conversations with our children about important topics. There’s more of us around than you realize. We just don’t go around protesting like The complainers.

  28. Follow up comment to Tim…I heard a few years ago, I think it was during a sermon in church, that a parent’s job is ultimately to become unnecessary in a child’s life. That is, to enable the child to grow into an adult who’s no longer dependent on mom and dad. In a way, that sounds sad, which is why so many parents don’t want that outcome, and prefer to keep them dependent. But it’s really the only way it can be. If we do anything less, we’re not doing our God-given job as parents. But then our culture has also worked hard to push God out of the picture, so it all make perverse sense.

  29. Interesting you mention the push toward white collar, Maria. The same pastor I just quoted to Tom, also said that “the last thing the world needs is another MBA with no scruples”. That got a lot of the flock squirming in their seats. It was a while collar flock that pushed their kids into white collar careers 😉

  30. Whatever job supports the household is a good job and it doesn’t have to be a white collar job. Problem is most think that a white collar job is the top of the food chain job. That’s only true for CEO position of which there are very few available. And most jobs created aren’t white collar jobs..
    I hope the working class area that your old managers from the A&P were referring to wasn’t in a poor section because those areas encourage anyone who works to stay on limited availability to keep benefits rather than get better pay.

  31. That was 40 years ago Maria, so it was a different dynamic. The towns they listed were true working class towns. Not so many people were on public assistance back then. We don’t always appreciate how much the world has changed in just a few decades, but it really has. The world I grew up in and was trained to navigate no longer exists. It’s as if history/events are speeding up. The problem is that some people think we’re in control of those changes. I personally think we are no longer, and that’s where things get spooky. As a friend of mine said, “we shouldn’t be surprised at anything that happens from now on”. I say AMEN to that!

  32. I think what Kevin was trying to say is that their is a certian hunger in a lot of kids who come from poorer type areas that doesn’t exsist in kids who come from a more middle or upper class areas of life.

    I can’t tell you how much respect I have for people who come from horrible situations and become sussessful in life.

    You said a mouthful Kevin. The world I was trained to life in no longer exsists. If that doesn’t describe my feeling I don’t know what does.
    I’ll admit that I’ve basically hidden out in life for the past five year’s. I love to travel and I do. Other than that I really find it hard to go out anymore in my home town. I just don’t have the patience or understanding of people I used to.
    Every now and then I’ll meet someone who surpirses me but I find 90 percent of the people I meet or talk with have little or no substance anymore.
    That is why I seem to be attracted to this blog. I love the dialog. These are topics and conversations that I long to have with people but never seem to.

    Anyway, Great topic and conversation.

  33. That’s exactly what I meant about the working class towns Tim. As to getting out around people, I’m pleasantly surprised by the people I run into. Most are a lot more conversant than I anticipate, and I learn a lot from talking with different people. They also make me realize that I’m not alone in what I think. For example, this past spring when I was in the hospital having my appendix out, I got friendly with the guy in the next bed. I heard him on the phone talking to his wife and he said “You’re not going to believe this, but I’m sharing a room with a guy who thinks just like I do.” I was both flattered and reassured by that.

    I tend to have an outgoing nature (my wife has described me as “ballsy”), so maybe I attract the kind of people I hope to find. However it works, it gives me hope in humanity, or at least in a slice of it. I believe that God keeps a remnant of the sane in the world as part of his divine grace on humanity. I’m not sure how this will all work out, but I’m certain it will. Though not without some serious ugliness. But that’s how we human beings learn. Every now and again we need a good spanking to keep us real 😉

  34. Wow, Kevin. I missed all of this dialog. Where was I? Busy working I guess, which is a good thing considering the discussion. I enjoyed reading all of this and especially liked Tim’s input about having these types of conversations with people, but we can’t seem to find the right people anymore, except on blogs like this. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. Thanks for that.

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