Below is my slight reinterpretation of a great set of rules that Bill Gates gave to High School students. At least, that’s what the internet will tell you. In reality, it’s an excerpt from the book Dumbing Down our Kids by educator, Charles Sykes. It is a list of eleven timely pieces of advice that all kids should know. Some of it seems to go against the grain of modern parenting. Nevertheless, it has it’s place. If I teach this to my children, and live by these precepts, I will go a long way to helping them be self reliant, resilient and prepared for the world.
Obviously, there’s lots of things missing. There’s no mention of charity or of responsibility to others or many, many other things. Nevertheless, it is a very useful set of rules. It is designed to be controversial with kids. Just look at the first rule. Kids often complain that something is not fair. Their definition of fair is often nothing more than, “It’s not good for me”. Based on that, the rule makes every bit of sense. Apart from that, there’s lots of things in the world that aren’t fair but people have to live with them. I tend to say to complaining kids something like, “Yes. You’re right. Your life is simply terrible. It would be far better if you were born to a family that sent you to work down a coal mine or in paddy fields”. Sometimes I need to explain it further by telling them that putting up with doing 10 minutes’ more homework is not an imposition – it’s a slight inconvenience.
These rules for life should be implanted into each child’s brain – every child must learn, slowly and appropriately, that they are not the centre of the universe.
It’s just another stage in development.
Life is not fair – get used to it.
The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
You will NOT make $100 000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with secretary until you earn both.
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you meet your boss.
Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping – they called it Opportunity.
If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whinge about your mistakes, don’t blame other people for your errors – learn from them.
Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. When you grow up, get a job and move out of home, your parents can go back to being cool because they don’t have to spend their lives looking after you. So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the wardrobe in your own room.
Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failure and they’ll give you as many chances as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
Life is not divided into school terms. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
For other, more everyday, rules for life, click on the link below to go to the Raising Children Network. Not everything they say is fantastic but much of it is very helpful.Return to ARTICLES