The Lost Art of Resourcefulness


How do you both provide for your children and teach them to be resourceful?

My daughter graduated from college a year ago. Her plans were clear. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she wanted to get her master’s degree and become a counselor. I loved her ambition.

So she asked if she could move back home and save money to pay tuition for this second degree. I said yes, but with one stipulation: she’d make payments for living at home with her parents. (After some difficult conversations—she’s doing it.)

Along the way, I have learned a valuable lesson as a dad, a leader and an educator. Because I love my daughter, I find myself making life easier for her, buying her a new laptop for the schooling ahead, a new pair of jeans, giving her petty cash, some perks here and there. It’s natural. I’m her father.  But I noticed a principle in action:

The more I do for her, the less resourceful she has to be, and the less ready she is for life away from home.

Resourcefulness is actually a mark of maturity. When I finished college, moving home wasn’t an option. Suddenly, I had to be resourceful—with my money, my time, my furniture choices, my grocery shopping, staggering my bill payments, everything. Knowing my mom and dad loved and supported me, I was positively challenged to make it all happen. I didn’t expect them to do it for me. I grew up. I got resourceful.

You’ve read the statistics before—the vast majority of students last year planned on moving back home when they finished with college. The number was 80%. While I understand the economy is bad, I wonder if allowing this postpones the development of their resourcefulness. It’s no wonder they move back home—they don’t want to have to start at the bottom of the career ladder, eat macaroni and cheese everyday, and use cinder blocks for a coffee table. But that’s what deepens our constitution inside. Suddenly, young people:

Learn to adjust their expectations,

Decide what they REALLY need in order to live,

Become grateful for even little blessings,

Become skilled at planning ahead,

Find that they can delay gratification.

For those of us who lead young people—stop and think the next time you’re prone to give them something or do something for them. It may feel like “love and support” at the time, but is it really? Would real love and support better be expressed through helping them figure out how they can be resourceful and do it themselves, even if it takes a lot longer?

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of this topic. When it comes to equipping students with resourcefulness, which side do you find yourself on?

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