Dear Grandparenting: My son-in-law has never knocked them dead as a provider. He jumps from job to job. The grass is always greener for him somewhere else, and I am the one who ponies up the greenbacks when the going gets tough and he can’t put bread on the family table.
That has never stopped him from dispensing advice to my two grandsons about how to make a living some day. As you might expect his advice is always changing. At the moment he is big on becoming an auto mechanic because it’s steady work. My daughter and I try not to interfere while the job genius is speaking so we won’t miss any of his pearls of wisdom. When he stops yapping, I might sneak in a word or two. What advice should I give my grandsons? They are 8 and 12. I think it is very hard to predict what a grandchild will be doing in 20 years. Janie, Hagerstown, Md.
Dear Janie: Tempting as it is for grandparents to indulge in speculation about grandchildren’s future occupations, it strikes us as putting the cart before the horse.
For one thing, the whole nature of work will change. Millions of jobs as we know them will disappear — perhaps two billion by 2030 predict some big thinkers. Take automobile mechanics — if futurists are right, the first wave of driverless vehicles that perform autonomously will hit the road in less than 10 years, revolutionizing the industry. Then what?
Now for another horse idiom — you can lead a horse to water but cannot make it drink. Who knows where a grandchild’s eventual interests will lie, or which aptitudes will develop? The best-laid career plans can fall by the wayside. As so often happens, finding a job is more often a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
Instead of being pointed toward a specific occupation, a grandchild would be best served to develop essential personal and technology skills employers seek. An employee can be trained for a service or product, but they cannot be trained to have integrity, resiliency, self-confidence or a work ethic.
Finally, it is worth noting that granddaughters would have been excluded from this discussion in generations past. A good marriage was their best bet. But it’s no longer a man’s world. When companies go to war over talent, a good woman is often the prize.
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GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
“Two things I dislike about my granddaughter — when she won’t take her afternoon nap, and when she won’t let me take mine.” Ð Humorist Gene Perret
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Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.