Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the day “May 25, 2023”


Do not bother looking for this word in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary just yet. It is not a word, for now. But it is a term that has appeared recently, meant to be critical of today’s youth in reference to delaying entry into the workforce. Politically, a certain part of society would label these youth as lazy, not wanting to work. But an essay by Suzy Welch in the Wall Street Journal recently, brought up a different aspect as to why “Gen Z” is in no rush to apply for jobs.

To qualify Welch is a professor at NYU. She had been teaching MBA students when the topic came up about what they would be doing after college. A student who answered Welch, said she had no plans, and was just going to take advantage of some “funemployment.” The concept of “funemployment,” being the time period in between school or a job, and another job. This concept is really about attitude and approach with being unemployed, not being afraid, intimidated, or panicked with being unemployed. They simply just plan on being chill.

Anyone who has ever been unemployed for any reason, terminated or resignation, is likely to have felt the unbelievable stress, experienced mounting cash shortage, and possible eviction from their homes. It seems, this generation, “Gen Z,” may be on to something even bigger, perhaps by having seen their parents experience negative consequences during periods of unemployment, and simply have found a different way to deal with this period of time. They also may have seen their parents rush to take a job, just for the sake of taking a job, and being miserable for it, resulting in the entire household becoming one of misery.

Think about it. I know my daughters over their youth, while knowing only one company that I had worked for, knew that I had spent many overtime hours at work, totaling on average between 50-60 hour work-weeks, and often felt mistreated at work by my employer. They knew that my job also carried somewhat of a physical risk. And when my health started going south from my late effects from my battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, they saw how poorly the company thought of my worth. Though discussion of work with my daughters has not come up yet, I know that one thing I have encouraged both to be a factor when choosing a career, find something you have passion about and do not be forced to make it a job or work, and that will be something they can make a career out of.

One thing I will say about my daughters, I do not believe they are afraid of work. They have been and continue to be good students, carrying good grades. Their education has always been a priority for me, so I was not a parent who pushed for them to participate in year round sports, or as they got old enough, to get part time work. While there was definitely a reason to get part time work, from social skills building to earning money for personal things, maybe even save for college, my concern was sacrificing the time that was needed in the evening to complete homework, share family time with each other, and of course, make sure that they got plenty of rest and a good dinner. Anyone who ever worked as a teenager, knows an employer will take advantage of teenagers from long and late hours, and I simply did not want their grades impacted.

Getting back to the comment about what today’s youth have witnessed by their parents, again, there is a split among opinions. Most parents will state they did what they did, worked how they worked, made the sacrifices for their kids, so that they could have nice stuff and do fun things. I am no exception. Being from a divorced home, I wanted nothing but better for my daughters than I had. Here is where the difference occurs in opinion. Some parents will say, “now they need to do what we did, make the sacrifice. It is what you do.”

I find myself in a different thought process, especially in light of this new phenomenon “funemployment.” Were all the sacrifices that I made for my daughters worth it, in particular to my daughters? Until my health started failing, and it was occurring much quicker because of the physical toll I placed on my body with the extra hours I was putting in, I was able to provide nice gifts, went on trips, seemingly giving my daughters, “better than I had.”

But one day, my oldest daughter, ten years old at the time, asked me completely out of the blue, “Daddy, how come you are never home? I miss you.” That is when it hit me. I am sure at the time, my daughter definitely enjoyed everything she was given and experiencing. She also realized there was something she was missing, me, and time with me. We were out grocery shopping when this question came up. It was one of the rare times I had been home during the week with the number of hours I had been putting in at work. It left me with such a pit in my stomach. This was not what I wanted my fatherhood to be.

To keep things in perspective, neither of my daughters are likely to remember most of the trips we took, and except for some of the stories told, will not remember many of the gifts. But what they do both remember, is me working a lot of hours. And though we have different reasons for missing our Dads in our youth, their Dad lived in the house with them, yet they rarely saw me, especially as they got older. Sure, they knew I was working, working a lot. I am pretty sure they would have preferred that I not work as much. Because in the end, what they saw, was their parent, not happy with his work environment, feeling disrespected, underpaid, and underappreciated in spite of my commitment and dedication to my employer. I was a good and reliable worker until my health started going bad.

I know my daughters definitely do not want to be working in an environment that will require them to sacrifice themselves, time with family, self esteem. And if they are one of the millions of “Gen Z” who have found a way, not to panic about getting work, just so that they can take some extra time, to find that perfect fit, because clearly, our generations jumped into job after job, just for the sake of having a job, only to need to find another, I will not hold that against them.

My daughters are far from lazy. And it is likely, that many “Gen Z” are thinking the similar way. I am not naive though, that there may be some who are lazy. I just know that I can say my daughters will some day find their careers, and be the best at it. I do not want them rushing into something, only to be negatively impacted by an experience. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. I am okay with that.

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