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Youth economic empowerment

By Farrah Gray
NNPA Columnist

What are the current and future options for Internet savvy young people reading “the sky is falling” economic news on websites and blogs?

The economic downturn is affecting their single or duel-income family households. And parents still want to give every possible advantage to their children. The economic crisis has begun to leave the lives of many in dire straits, especially families living from paycheck to paycheck.

Some parents have decided not to be victims of their situation and are seeking ways and means of creating income generating projects for and with their children.

You may not be able to give your children money or connections, but you can give them the values to live by: pride, respect, honest work, preparation, inspiration, the desire to give back, and the strength to never give up.

The other side to the economics of youth relates to how parents can support the ideas of their youngsters. You never know: maybe your next big idea will come from your tween or teenager.

It’s important to note that whether you are single or married, you are the single most important factor that can influence your child’s growth and development. Your love and support can help put your child on the path to great success. You can teach your child the art of survival and how to solve the problems he or she will inevitably face.

Here are my first-step suggestions:

1. Fill your home with seeds of success. Let it be a place where ideas and inspiration are welcomed and abundant. Tell your child the following: “You can become and do anything you set your heart and mind to.” Let your child grow up believing that there are no limits to what you can do and that anything — and everything — is possible.

2. Share your words of encouragement and affirmation. Let there be plenty of “can do” conversation in your house. Eliminate any and all evidence of overwhelming hopelessness from your home. Remind your children daily that they are destined for great things. When talking to your kids about career choices, stress that they should start with their interests and values.

Let them know its okay to change their minds as they learn new things and develop their skill sets. The more they expose themselves to, the greater chances they have at finding the job that wins their heart. They shouldn’t feel rushed or grim about their future. Life is too short not to approach one’s career and future with a genuine sense of adventure.

3. Show them the values of dedicated work and open-hearted love. Get them up with a kiss as you leave for work. Kiss them as you come home after a hard day. No matter how much money you have or don’t have, be a culinary and financial genius and a super parent — and show them how to turn a bag of potatoes, a can of beans, a package of ground beef and a loaf of bread into delicious meals that last for a week. Put tender loving care into the small things you do no matter how scarce the resources are.

4. Engender and encourage independence and an attitude of self-reliance. Drive home the lesson that “you always want to have a backup plan.” Teach them that there’s no one going to change it, so what’s the point of complaining?

5. Encourage them to work and mak e money. Believe in them and help them taste the sweet smell of success. Teach your child to get out of the lottery ticket mentality. Let them start businesses, work for neighbors, baby sit or a ‘take-the-trash out’ service for local retailers. Encourage them to be creative and make things to sell. Let them experience the thrill of creating something themselves and selling it. This will also help them come to terms with their passions, talents, and purpose in life. Only then may they discover their true selves and find work they love.

Help your children find good mentors and teachers early at the local area YMCA Black Achievers and Boys & Girls Club.

Remember, great careers and successful lives start with small ideas and literally baby steps. Just like adults don’t always hit home runs on the first or second or third try, children don’t, either. But they’ll never hit a home run if they don’t learn to swing.

Farrah Gray is the author of Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You from Success and the international best-seller Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out. Dr. Gray can be reached via email at or his web site at

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