5 Reasons Why Your Kid Will End Up Being a 40-Year Old Barista

Wow.  That title is harsh.  Time to man up/woman up.

As whatever higher being you believe in knows—I’ve got my own challenges as a dad.  But there’s a couple of things I see out there in the world. And when I see them, I know your kid may end up as a 40-year old barista.  Now, my kid may end up that way as well, and that’s okay for him and for your kids—as long as it’s voluntary.

Being a voluntary 40-year old barista—because you have passion—rocks.  But being an involuntary 40-year old barista?  That’s a place you don’t want your kids to be.  So, gather round the campfire, kids, because I’m highly opinionated and ready to go.

Keeping pace - imageLet’s lead with this chart (–>), then get into the 5 reasons your kid is going to be a 40-year old barista:

Ready?  Here’s five ways you can tell that your kid may end up as a 40-year old barista:

1.  You aren’t pumping him up on math and science performance-enhancing experiences.  You’re going to allow your child to pick a Liberal Arts major.  And, why the chart to the right shows that it’s not as bad as originally thought, you need to get your kid into math and science.  You should be influencing Johnny with these types of charts right now.  You want to be a writer, Johnny?  Cool… get a kick-ass degree and a minor in English or Journalism.

 2. You give your kids what they want—all the time.  What do they want?  A second game console?  A new pair of kicks even though they just got a pair 1 month ago?  Screw that.  They need to know that denial is the spice of life.  If you’re giving them everything, they’re never going to be hungry.  Start telling them no, or tell them to go out and drum up some business in the neighborhood… unless your neighborhood is tough, at which point they should stay inside.  But then, the 1st-world problems in this post really don’t apply to you, right?

3.  Your helicoptering ways mean they never learn how to manage up.  You helicoptering in on every situation they are involved in, either directly or indirectly.  You should be listening to what’s going on, then giving them advice on how to manage up in any situation— then have them report back to you on how it’s going. Rinse, repeat.  You doing it for them isn’t preparing them for anything.

4. Your kids are 23 or older, and you’re giving them cash flow that’s the equivalent of a low end call center job while they “get on their feet.” This means they never have to take that low-end call center job and feel how bad it sucks.  So, they never get hungry. If you’re giving a 23-year old that much cash flow—and a lot of you are—then you’re basically taking the claws out of the lion.  They’ll never really hunt on their own.  You’d be surprised how many Boomers and late Gen-Xers are bankrolling their 25-year old kids.  It continues for many into the 30s, and even the 40s.

5.  You’re not actively selling your kids on their likely reality—that they are going to an in-state, state school unless they qualify for Ivy.  Private schools—I feel you.  There are a lot of positives.  Unfortunately, unless the private school is Ivy, Vandy or Stanford, the ROI doesn’t come close to justifying the cost.  If you allow them to think that Wistera College (I made it up, but I bet the co-ed scene is awesome and they have a crew team) at 50K a year is a viable option (they’ll study Liberal Arts, by the way), you’re hosed.

Employment. You’re thinking about it as a parent for your kids.  Being a barista isn’t a bad thing.  But for all the polish on that job and the jazzy music, it’s the suburban equivalent of going to work at the plant.  New world order—I wish there were more plants.  It’s the big town equivalent of working at a convienence store, which is what small-town kids do when it all goes wrong.

Small town kids with similar outcomes also used to work as video store clerks.

The new jobs being created are low end.  The competition is going to get rougher for the real careers.  Let’s put on our helmets and get to work as parents. They’re your kids and my kids, so you know they’re going to be smart and witty.  But if we aren’t careful, they’ll be having work conversations that sound a lot like the video below—while they earn $10.00 per hour (email subscribers, click through for video from “Clerks”).

FOT Background Check

Kris Dunn
 Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. Tweet him @kris_dunn. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard the good word, he's also jumped into the RPO game as part owner of a rising shop out of ATL, Kinetix. Not your mama's recruiting process outsourcing, that's for sure... check 'em out.


  1. teri smyth says:

    I completely agree. You are 100% correct and I wish I would have read your article 10 years ago.
    We think that we are helping our kids by giving them everything. All we are doing is making them dependent on us and encouraging lazy ass moochers.

    I give you a high five for posting this.


  2. Ryan Lowery says:

    A couple thoughts… 1) Have you been spying on my family!? And, 2) can my 19 year old son and 14 year old daughter move in with you for a bit? In all seriousness, well done. I am printing this out for a little dinner table reading this evening.

  3. Kris Dunn
    Kris Dunn says:

    Hey Teri and Ryan –

    Note my early reference to my own stuggles as a parent. I talk a good game, but I’m really better and critquing how others raise their kids. The fact that you read this and say, “yeah…” means we have a lot in common, and in my opinion, means your kids have a better shot than most…


  4. Justin Cowan says:

    Nice post Kris. I have a 3yr old and one on in the way, but this is a topic I think about all the time. I guess that’s why we play bball.


  5. Paul Spiech says:

    Couldn’t say it any better. A lot of those coddled 20-somethings come out of college with a skewed sense of their worth in the job market. Many aren’t willing to take those entry level jobs because it’s beneath them…

  6. Alex says:

    While I agree with just about everything you wrote, the choice of study should not be such a big deal; a lot of Liberal Arts grads end up doing quite well in business down the line, but people are so obsessed with immediate results nowadays that they can’t look past STEM anymore. It’s all about making yourself useful to your industry or employers, depending on the route you choose. To me, that’s what’s important, more so than what some piece of paper labels me. I also see it happening around me right now, as most of my peers graduate college

    • Beth says:

      I agree! The former teacher in was shaking my head at #1. If you’re sons and daughters excel at math and science, that’s great! Women are still grossly under-represented in STEM careers. However, everyone excels in different areas. Nothing’s worse than your parents trying to force you down a path you aren’t meant to be on.

      As for Liberal Arts degrees — universities (In Canada at least) are offering options for co-op and entrepreneurship across all faculties. Not only do these students graduate with far less student debt, they have a combined 1-2 years working in their field or they’re ready to launch their own business. Whatever degree your kids do, make sure they’re getting as much out of it as possible.

  7. Josh Kirby says:

    There is personal responsibility on the part of the parents and the young-adult children, but there is also societal responsibility that we all must assume. Nobody in this country should work full-time at minimum wage and still earn below the poverty line. This post continues the blame game that points fingers at the younger generation while their surrounding society, and its government, continues to screw them over. The concern that will come to bear one day is that after we improve our math and science education curriculum there may not be jobs for those people even if the families/schools/boards of education follow the advice to beef up math and science achievement. So, instead of only having young and poor baristas we’ll also have young and poor chemists and mathematicians joining them in the first-of-the-month SNAP benefits grocery shopping binge at the supermarket near you, and they’ll all be even more cynical than the generation that immediately preceded them.

  8. Karen says:

    Love this! I’m going to keep an electronic copy to refer back to when my kids (4.5 and 3 years old) are in school and old enough to know what it means to work for something. Couldn’t agree more on what you said about math and science. When my sister told our parents in her sophomore year of college that she wanted to switch her major from engineering to music, our parents (who are early Boomers) told her that no, she will not switch her major because of her talent in math, and music makes a great hobby. So what’s my sister doing now, about 14 years later? She is an engineer, and music is one of her hobbies. (And yes, she does enjoy her career as an engineer.)

  9. Sandy says:

    Love it!

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