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A notice to people who know my kids: Please tell them what to do.

One mom's strong case for letting your kid make lots of mistakes.

A notice to people who know my kids: Please tell them what to do.

There was a kid running at the neighborhood pool the other day.

Photo via iStock.


The pool attendant asked him to walk ,  as pool attendants have done since pools existed. Then the boy’s dad  (a big-chested, serious kind of guy ) came over to the attendant and told him that as the child’s father, he was the only one who could tell his kid what to do. He said that if the attendant has something to say, it should be directed at him.

Basically, don’t talk to his kid, and this dad will decide if his kid needs direction.

The attendant kept his cool and replied — carefully — that it was his job to make sure that people follow the pool rules.

He explained that "no running" is pretty much the universal pool rule. The dad pushed back and added some aggressive posturing to intimidate the pool guy, saying that he didn’t see anything wrong with what his kid was doing. As far as he was concerned, the pool guy needed to back off.

In summary: The kid was free to run at the pool because the dad said so, screw the pool rules (this is America!), nobody tells my kid what to do except me.

There’s a weird sort of fear spreading among reasonable grown-ups.

My sister’s family had some friends over, and one of the adults gave one of my sister’s kids some polite direction about sharing. Then the grown-up realized the grave error in 21st century feedback rules concerning kids who aren’t yours and apologized to my sister for shamefully overstepping.

"Are you KIDDING?" my sister said. "I absolutely want you to tell my kids if they’re doing something you don’t think they should be doing! In fact, do more of it! They need to learn to hear things from people other than me."

If I’m the only one who can tell my kids what to do, I’ve failed them in every possible way by making sure they have completely unrealistic expectations of the world.

Also, I can’t ever die because my kids won’t be able to take care of themselves. Following Big-Chested Dad at the Pool’s logic, a lifeguard can’t lifeguard, teachers can’t teach, coaches can’t coach and, later in life, managers can’t manage ... you see where this is going, right?

Is cushiony perfection for our kids a new national obsession?

We all know That Mom in the neighborhood, who is literally at the school every day, escalating everything to make sure her kid gets an A, is chosen for student council, or gets placed in the gifted program. Later, when her kid is in college, professors will hang up on her and laugh behind her back because she’ll call about something that’s none of her business.

You know this kid. We all know this kid. Photo via iStock.

My middle-schooler and his project partner failed to turn an assignment in on time after many reminders of the deadline. The other kid’s mom (who I met once, briefly) came to my house and wouldn’t leave until I talked with her for nearly an hour about the injustice of it.

She was heartbroken for the disappointment her kid must be feeling at the failure and wanted to fix it somehow. She left, but I think it was only because I told her I had no idea how to reverse the course of what happened and suggested she escalate to a school administrator if she believed the teacher could be convinced to reverse his decision. I haven’t heard back from her.

I don’t mean to brag, but my high schooler fails at quite a few things, too.

None of them too epic, but there’s still time. We talked about it recently. I told him it’s my job to let him fail while he’s still at home with me because he needs to learn how to lose his shit and then pick it up and move forward.

That’s the most major of life skills —  in my experience anyway — and I’ll be damned if any kid of mine is going to fall to pieces his first semester in college because I’m not there to fix life for him.

You remember that person from your dorm days precisely because that person became an utterly forgettable shadow.

This is an open notice to people who know my kids: You can tell them what to do.

It’s really, really OK. Tell them not to put their feet up on your coffee table. Tell them to stop running, not to play with that knife, or not to touch your things.

Actually, now that they’re older, you’ll likely be telling them not to eat all of your potato chips and beef jerky and not to take that drink onto your freshly cleaned carpet.

Whatever the rules are at your place, tell my kid to fall in. I have a selfish motive.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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