Parenting is hard: Part 1

OPINION: My 14 year old son believes in “quiet quitting” and I’m wondering whether or not I should advise him against it.

Editor’s Note: The following article is a commentary and the views expressed are the author’s own. Continue reading opinions on theGrio.

My 14-year-old son came up to me the other day and said he’d read something on the internet about “quiet quitting.” He then twisted his face into a confused, questioning expression before continuing. “How, duh! Of course I will not work more than my boss pays me.”

He’s someone who’s never had a job, but he has a clear vision of who he should be as an employee. And he is also certain that companies are looking to employ employees. He won’t allow that. When an employer asks him to do something special, his response is, “Okay, how much are you paying me?”

“Quiet Quiet” is the much-touted term that implies the idea of ​​doing the minimum at work. It means doing exactly what your job requires and refusing to take on all the little extra requests that come from management for no extra compensation.

Silent cessation marks a big difference in work attitudes across generations. I asked myself, “Should I try to change my son’s mind? Am I a bad parent if I try to get him to think about work the way I do? Or am I a bad parent by not letting him find a way of working that makes sense for him?” So often parenting is about making the less bad parenting choice.

I learned how to work from my father. He ran a small accounting firm in Mattapan, Massachusetts with hundreds of clients. Every year in March, April and May he had a lot of work. There were many nights when I didn’t see him at all. He was in his office all day taking care of clients. I missed him but Mom taught me that his absence was a sign of his love. He loved his family so much that he worked hard to support us. I’ve learned that showing love means giving, and doing that might mean working all the time. That was life.

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When I came into the working world, I worked all the time. I was a young writer who wanted my work to be great, so I spent hours all night tinkering with my articles before submitting them. When I had a family, I didn’t just write articles. I also wrote books and worked on TV shows. When my son was born, I was hosting two shows on BET, so the workload was heavy. I worked as often as I could. I tried to earn money for my family to show them I love them.

Back in the ’90s and ’80s, a lot of people thought it was a badge of honor not to sleep because the workload was so challenging. It proved that you are valuable. When people got together, we’d ask, “How are you?” People would respond, “Oh, I’m sooooo busy.” It made us sound important. We didn’t talk about work-life balance. We talked about the many movies about the work like Mr. Mom,” “Wall Street,” “Baby Boom,” and more, who talked about how impossible it was to strike a work-life balance.

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But as with so many things, millennials came along and found a better solution — setting boundaries, turning off phones, going for real weekends, taking care of themselves, refusing to work full-time, and demanding work-life balance. My son is Gen Z, but he works with the Millennial approach, which focuses on maintaining mental health. Put it that way, it makes sense.

I think the idea of ​​quietly quitting makes sense in some situations. But I also believe that hard work pays off in the long run. I paced back and forth for a long minute deciding how to respond to my son.

Parenting isn’t just about getting kids to think the way you do. It’s great when they contribute their ideas. But you should also protect them from bad ideas. Quiet isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but…

I said this to my son: “There are two kinds of work in a way. There are jobs you do just for the check and there are jobs you care about. If you work at a company you don’t care about and the job isn’t something you want to do for a while, then, yes, take the quiet-quiet ethos with you. Do your job strictly defined and keep it moving. But hopefully one day you will find a job that really suits you. It will be a company you believe in and really want to be a part of, with a founder you really want to follow. The company will have a mission that you believe in and the work you do will get you doing things you really want to do and will pay you a solid salary to do it. In this situation, you should work with the company to do whatever it takes to help it grow.”

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I envision my science and technology loving son going to Silicon Valley one day and joining a group of people who are building a new company with a goal that he believes will make the world a better place in valuable and fundamental ways could. He used to talk about building an app to help people find parking spots. Then he talked about developing an app to help people develop apps. When he finds something like that – a job that really appeals to him, at a company he really likes – shouldn’t he work hard to help them succeed?

That doesn’t mean giving the company your life and never taking a breath, but I think there’s value in going to work and giving your all and believing that you’re there to help this company succeed because you really believe in them.



Touré is the host and creative director at theGrio. He is the host of the Toure Show podcast and the Who Was Prince? podcast documentaries. He is also the author of seven books, including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U. Keep an eye out for his upcoming podcast, Being Black In the 80s.

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