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Are young adults today lacking life skills that inhibit them to determine an individual life track?

So I'm an Asian American raised under immigrant parents who came to this country to start a family. Therefore, I wasn't taught much about the system pertaining to everyday life skills. For example,

*How to do taxes
* What taxes are
* How to vote
* What political parties are
* How to write a resume/cover letter/anything related to getting a job
* How to write a check/balance a check book
* Anything to do with banking
* How to do loans for college
* How to jump start a car or other basic emergency things
* How to buy a car or house

We are distracted with the free flow of information that we forget how essential these skills are in order to promote confidence for independence.

I understand that these can be learned through parents or as you go on, but what about the 99% protesting on Wall Street? If they knew about credit scores or interest rates, would so many students have taken out those loans?

Throughout my study, I found most high school graduates who are going to college don't have any idea of what they want to study. I believe it is because they lack the confidence to believe in themselves to pursue a higher purpose in life.

I hope I explained my idea clearly enough as this is my first conversation here on TED. I hope to hear from most of you!


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    Jul 16 2013: Abraham, you are very observant.

    As an immigrant myself, I also was not taught zippity dooda.

    I had to learn to do things on my own once I left high school.

    It has served me well.
    I do not depend on anyone to resolve issues.
    I know how to live independently, and I'm self motivated.

    I think as you grow older, you will realize that you cannot justify ignorance.
    You have to learn on your own, and look for things on your own.

    Expecting others to do the leg work for you is not healthy.

    Today in the information super-age.....there is just no excuse for not knowing.
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      Jul 16 2013: Yes you are absolutely right that we all learn on our owns how to solve problems through interaction and hands-on experience. However, I believe that teaching children and ensuring they go the right way is the responsibility of schools and parents as well. No one was born with knowledge in his head, but we gather information as we grow and interact with people around us and it is these people that shape us who we are.

      We can't just leave our children to learn everything by themselves. We've got to guide them or else they may go the wrong way. You maybe lucky that you got on the right track but there are hundreds or even thousands of kids out there who don't. There are youth crime, teenagers suiciding, drug addiction, high youth unemployment and so much more. We can't just assume that children will learn best through the Internet. Information over the net is overloaded this generation, with a vast majority of the content are unverified. Moreover, the mind of an adolescent is complicated, and unlike that of adult, they are turbulence and struggling with inner-self problems. As a teenager I understand how hard it is to be on your own and unknown of where to start and which is the right way to go. We already have a hard time defining who we are and how we fit into these worlds. We've got a lot of questions to ask but we don't know who to get to and who would listen to us.

      I think children need to be prepared before they are thrown into the harsh world. You can't just leave them to figure everything out by themselves because maybe they would have broken down before they make it that far. The idea is to prevent bad outcomes before they happen.
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        Jul 16 2013: Hello Son Huynh,

        As a teacher, and a mother, I really have to agree with what you say.
        My parents could not help me because they spoke Spanish, and we were in the United States, at a time when there were not too many other speakers of Spanish around to help us.

        Once I learned English, then I served as interpreter, and helper to my parents.

        I answered Abrahams question directly.....because he used the experience of being an immigrant, and that resonated with me.

        But, I agree with you, as a parent, I have been helping my own children to be independent when they start to live on their own.

        Something I did not have, but that would have helped me tremendously.

        I think something that did help me, was the fact that my parents taught us morals and values.
        Right from wrong.

        I want to continue to exchange ideas with you.
        You speak with a lot of insight.

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          Jul 17 2013: Thank you Mary. I think you have great parents there.

          Also thanks for addressing the "immigrant" side of the conversation that most of us haven't paid much attention to. Personally in my view, the walls that are obtruding the immigrants from integrating with the host society are the language barrier and culture clash.

          But you are right. If this question is more directed to the "immigrant" side, then we have a whole different problem. Because normal kids without life skill is less worrying than immigrant kids without any preparations.
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        Jul 18 2013: Oh, you're welcome Son Huynh, thank you also for your thoughts.

        You know, I thought, that the point of Abraham's introduction was to point out how he lacked certain skills due to having immigrant parents.

        I will say, though, that many young people lack certain knowledge because of a lack of communication between their parents and them.

        I don't think it is mutually exclusive to immigrant families.

        As a matter of fact, usually children of immigrants master the English language before their parents, and are in a great position to end up helping their parents with all these life skills.............and in a way, this helping of the parents, helps them also.
        I remember having to translate letters for my dad, and reading signs, and instructions in manuals, and also making phone calls for him.......wow, I just now remembered all that!!

        Each family is different.....the important thing is that there is good open communication.
        And, that parents take advantage of teachable moments to expose their children to life skills which they will need as adults.

        This is a wonderful conversation.

        I hope more young people participate.
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      Jul 16 2013: Mary M, You make me shy. Now i'm 24 years old and i am student. Although I have some part-time jobs but i still have to live depend on my parents. Because 4 years ago, i caught a strange disease, it was called halluciation of hearing. But i didn't agree to give up my university to cure myself. Near 3 years later, my result in University was so bad, so my parents forced me to reserve one year in university to cure myself. One year later, i returneId my university, everything with me is very strange. My friends graduated. I had no friends. I liked a fresh student.
      Everybody say that I am lack of life skill so much. I often create trouble for other people and don't know how to deal with problems in the real life.
      I admire u so much. You are a mirror with me. I have to learn many things from u so much.
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        Jul 16 2013: Le Hoai, thank you for answering my simple comment.

        You are so very brave.

        I am on my way out of my home now, but I will come back and write some more later today.

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        Jul 17 2013: Le Hoai, let me just come back and say that we humans are a work in progress.

        Sometimes we feel like we are creating trouble for others, but in reality, we are in need of help until we learn to handle things ourselves.

        Be patient with yourself, and continue to reach out to your family.
        Family is very important.

        I hope you will learn much from participating in our TED community.
        There are a lot of kind individuals on here with a lot of years of life experience.

        You might not agree with everything you read, but you can always take what you find useful, and ignore the rest.

        It is nice meeting you.
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          Jul 19 2013: Thank you so much. Your advice is very useful for me. Now it is my summer holiday and I am working in a company.
          My wish is simple: to have fresh new start. But if I want a new beginning, it has to start from within. I’m not a perfect person. In fact, I’m a perfectly imperfect person. Being perfect is not something I seek, because it is not possible. But do you know what is? Becoming a better person. That’s something we can all do. Becoming a better person than I was yesterday is a beautiful promise I can make to myself. And I wish: have a new beginning with TED. Because I will know and learn many things from many people like you and other people...
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        Jul 20 2013: I am looking forward to reading your comments on TED.

        Welcome, and see you around Le Hoai!!!
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      Jul 16 2013: Hi Mary,

      Here's an interesting, humoristic comment on what may happen if it is indeed school or so-called carrers advisors that become a part of the bigger picture and have responsibility for the development of the children, you can stop at 0:52:


      The schools and parents and other sources of influence do have do have some responsibility, I agree with that, but they also need to be caring, respectful of individuality and be competent.

      You say "Today in the information super-age.....there is just no excuse for not knowing." . - agreed. But what happens if the people who are supposed to take care of you don't really care to get any knowledge? I'm not speaking about my parents or schools. And assume things that are not true because of their own inhibitions or just lack of interest or knowledge? I can write pages on that.

      And you're right. There is no excuse for not knowing and not caring. There is no excuse for assuming, lying and staying uninformed and wanting to stay uninformed by not asking the right questions or being engaged. And there is no excuse for trying to categorise somebody by a faulty system of either loans and economy or culture.

      There is no excuse for saying 'that's just the way it is' without questioning.
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        Jul 17 2013: Very valid points Anna.......I enjoyed the video link.

        You know, when kids are small, sometimes they believe what they are told.
        And if they are told that they will not amount to much, well then, some might choose to believe it.

        Other children, despite not having loving parents who encourage their growth, might have a wonderful teacher who cares, and who mentors, and who inspires.

        Many famous people speak of that special teacher who made a difference.
        Remember Rita Pierson's TED talk on how teachers can inspire?


        I just think that today, children have a lot more information at their fingertips.
        They don't even have to leave their home or call anyone, like I had to do, to get information.

        There are so many options.

        Our public schools do a pretty good job of counseling kids about college and other options.
        It starts in the junior year of high school.
        What about in your country?
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          Jul 17 2013: Thanks for reminding me of the talk, Mary. Very important points there about connections, influences of the community and not giving up.

          "What about in your country?" - it's complicated. I'm sure the teachers are doing the best they can, but they cannot fix the world or the system. I've of so many unbelievable and sad stories from both countries I have a connection to. Here's something about a good teacher and one of the sad stories, just a link, but it shows a lot of what was mentioned in Ritas talk about champions, mentors and feedback:


          I posted this link before, it's just a perspective but it reminds me of my teacher of Polish, she had a very hard time in class (kids can be cruel...). I showed her some of my scribblings once, I wish she had more time for me, the only things she had time to say during a five minute break was "This aspires for higher goals than just that." I wish he had said it differently or had more time for a conversation or counselling, as you describe it. But she still got flowers from me on graduation day, that was the only time I saw her smile. I wish she could read this now :)
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        Jul 17 2013: That was some link Anna.
        She is a very talented comedian.....I had no idea that she had that experience in her background.

        I think, as a teacher, we sometimes want the students to trust us and share thoughts with us.
        And, also students, wish teachers to take interest in them.

        I think writing in a notebook, back and forth, between students and teachers, to be a very wonderful way to get attention.

        I used to make my second graders do book reports on the weekends.
        On Mondays, they would turn in their composition books with their reports.
        I would spend the week writing my reaction and thoughts in the book reports, and asking questions, or making observations that made them think.

        After a month or so of having implemented the assignment, I noticed the kids really looked forward to Friday, so they could get their notebooks back, and read what I had to tell them.

        The whole thing was great, because by the end of the school year, it was like a journal of thoughts. And they got to take a nice keepsake home from their second grade school year.

        Writing is very therapeutic. I think that is why I enjoy TED so much.
        I get to write my thoughts. And, I can go back and reread what I wrote.
        Sometimes I am astonished at my own words..........I think.........did I really write THAT??
    • Jul 17 2013: Thanks Mary! And thanks for all the feedback you guys!

      After reading ALL the comments, I came to the conclusion that there is indeed, a problem. Whether it's trough society, culture, or education, we all seem to be attempting to finding the culprit of this conflict. However I found it wise through TED Friend's Comment that we should look at our history. Simply taking the concept of how previous generous were raised back then, can tell how they are parenting now. There is a lot of logic behind his comment so go take a look.

      Now I want to start reading some solutions to this problem. We've identified it as the lack of self identity or incentive to learn. Or even be lazy in some terms to the point where it affects our ego and become spoiled. (I'm talking young adults to adults?)
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        Jul 17 2013: You're welcome Abraham.

        Like everything else in life, I think we can not put everybody in the same bag.
        I think "some" young people lack life skills, but others don't.

        It is good for you to discuss this topic out in the open.
        I hope you learn quite a lot.
        It is good that you, as a young person are worried about these types of questions.

        I hope you find some good TED videos to shed light on your dilemma.

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