The roots of the entitlement of so many young people, reach deep. Theirs was an adolescence shaped by the emergence of their fake lives on Facebook; the expectation of instant gratification on Instagram and Snapchat; being given trophies for simply participating in athletic competitions; and being told by the government that little grit is expected of them, because so much is already due them.
Now we can add to the prescription for continued entitlement the likes of recreational marijuana, which quiets the nagging suspicion in the minds of some millennials that something isn’t quite right within them, that they have been put to sleep by social, cultural and corporate forces that steal their genuine, potential personal power.
How do parents of children and adolescents fight back? Recently, I discovered a way when a friend of mine, Bret Siarkowski, reached out to me to join the advisory board of a new technology company he founded. I did. Bret is a technology entrepreneur with plenty of successful startups under his belt. He’s also someone who didn’t have enough money during the first years of college to pay for tuition, food and a place to live, so he picked the first two and slept on friends’ couches or at the library or anywhere he could. Now he is a mentor to would-be entrepreneurs at that school and others.
Ourly.help (www.ourly.help) is a technology platform that motivates kids to work for the money they are given, by doing chores around the house, in the yard or anywhere else their parents might choose. It turns allowances — too often given without any expectation — into earning capacity. It teaches kids the value of a dollar. It also gives kids self-respect, because it allows them to work harder and, thereby, have a little more financial independence.
Here’s how. Parents fund an Ourly.help account for one or more of their children. The money can then flow to their kids as a gift card or a money card, but only after they complete the chores their parents have selected and assigned a value to — whether $2 or $10 or more. The app requires that they send their parents before and after pictures to document the completion of their assignments. And the app lets them and their parents know when they’ve missed an assigned job, too.
And here’s something novel: The kids who use Ourly.help have to decide on a percentage of their income that the app will automatically give to charity. So Ourly teaches self-respect and selflessness, at the same time.
I told Bret I would try out the app with my 14-year-old son, Cole, and get back to him about joining the advisory board.
First of all, I saw that my son decided to give 20 percent of his income to the Wounded Warrior Project. I was impressed.
Second, I noticed that Cole objected to none of the tasks I assigned him. Not one. Because he was being paid. Take that, Bernie Sanders. And Cole liked sending me the before and after pictures of his room cleaned up or the deck power-washed before getting paid. I was actually surprised by just how much he loved earning his money, fair and square, instead of being handed it.
Third, on our way to lunch this weekend, Cole warned me, “We can’t hang out all day, Dad, because I have to get home and put teak oil on the yard chairs. It’s 10 dollars.”I was sold. I called Bret and told him I would join the advisory board and help him launch Ourly.help. Sometimes — this time — building out a technology and building character coincide.