Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why Johnny Can't Compete?

If you were a prospective employer reading Bonnie Ramthun’s description of her teenage sons and nephews, would you hire one of them?

Obviously, there are many reasons why Johnny can’t find a job. He cannot compete against the illegal immigrants and does not offer enough value to be hired at the minimum wage.

We are happy to know that our politicians are addressing these problems forthrightly: they want to grant amnesty to illegals and raise the minimum wage.

You start thinking that candidates for Congress should have to pass an IQ test.

Why can’t Johnny compete?

In the eyes of a mother who loves him unconditionally and who has coddled and indulged him, Johnny has grown up to be a slacker. Ramthun tries to put the most positive spin on it. She says that Johnny needs a job in order to learn everything that his parents and teachers should have drummed into him.

Now you, Mr. Employer pick up this letter of recommendation for a job candidate. Would you be more or less likely to hire him?

Ramthun describes:

a lazy American kid who pauses in the middle of the job to set up a different playlist on his iPod. No haphazard weeding or indifferent weed-wacking. No missing a mowing day because they’re sick or have other plans.

Or better:

Teenagers [are] not worth very much as workers. They’re lazy, scatterbrained, unable to remember instructions and have no callouses on their soft hands.

Compared to older, adult candidates, teenagers don’t measure up:

Teenagers have few skills, an undeveloped work ethic, and no experience. The adults looking for the same work are experienced, they have communication skills and they’re desperate. Employers aren’t in the market of giving out charity jobs to inexperienced teens who haven’t figured out how to show up to work on time. They need good workers and they need them immediately. They have them. They have more than they need. Your teen doesn’t have a chance, and the employment figures show it.

Of course, Ramthun is asking employers to give her children charity jobs. She believes that her teenage sons should be hired because they are worthless. They need the job because they need to learn skills and habits that no one has bothered to teach them. Parents expect that employers will do their job for them:

So really, why would anyone want to hire these unformed humans and begin the arduous process of turning them into skilled and eager workers?

Why, indeed?

What if, Mr. Employer, you are interviewing a college graduate, a fine product of the great American higher education system? Would that candidate be any better?

As they say, in your dreams:

My brother interviews job applicants who have graduated from college and has expressed profound worries about the abilities of these newly-minted professionals. They don’t understand how to come in to work on time, how to stay at work all day, how to focus on a task and complete it. They’re more worried about their social media, their benefits package, and their workplace.

One appreciates that mothers are especially indulgent toward their children. But, try explaining how these teenagers turned out as badly as they did? Do parents have anything to do with it? Are teachers to blame?

Or do we just wash our hands of the mess and shift the responsibility to employers?

Where’s the Tiger Mom when we need her. I will bet you that her children are not at all like the adolescents that Ramthun describes.


Katielee4211 said...

These are the results of helicopter parenting and child rearing theory. These kids never have, or had, to make a decision,they never have to self-regulate or figure out what to do. Their parents structure their every minute. School, extra-curricular activities, outside activities, chores have a reward tied to it, you name it. They never have to take responsibility for any of their time or actions.

These parents think, and were led to think, that by having every minute structured and planned, they'd learn discipline, it would be ingrained. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Apparently it's had the opposite effect.

Leo G said...

Both my sons work. One at a salaried position at a music store, the other reffing hockey. Both my sons attend university full time.

Tiger Mom? Nope, just raised to take personal responsibility, and passing it on.


Sam L. said...

Well, she MAY be discussing her own kids, but as I read it, you are assuming that she is. And I don't read her as asking for charity jobs for her boys. One of us, or both, has/have misread her. YMMV.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

She says that she has teens at home and nieces and nephews who cannot find work... seems reasonable. Then she describes teenagers in general in less than flattering terms. I see where it is not clear that she is talking about her own family, but it seems to be the logical inference. I accept that she might have been implying that her children are much better, but she doesn't really say that many children are better than those she describes. I'm assuming that if she had specifically called out her children, there would have been hell to pay.

Anonymous said...

She shows a photo of her son on a construction site, so I'm not sure she means he was lazy, etc. But I do see that she doesn't call out her peer group: parents who don't teach their children what they simply must do on the job.

I agree with Leo G that it doesn't take a "Tiger Mom." (And actually, reading the original Tiger Mom piece, I got the idea that TM was an upper-class dame who wouldn't cotton to her offspring taking a part-time job that would infringe on music practice time.) When I was a kid, my family went to visit relatives on the East Coast but my 17-year-old eldest brother didn't go. He was scheduled to work at McDonald's. My parents wished he could have gone, but it was understood that he had to meet his responsibilities.