At least in America, most moms and dads do disservice to their children by not explaining the reality of the world to their children by the time their children enter teenhood.

By the time their children graduate from high school, their children flounder into adulthood. Those who do so, often end up having unfulfilled, mediocre lives. It's no wonder they end up taking anti-depressants by the time they reach their 40s.

To help out a friend whose daughter has been in her final months of high school, I wrote the following in an email.

At day's end, the work world hinges here: either you work for private industry or you work for legislators of a government, directly or indirectly.

If you work for private industry you can work:
  • extracting stuff (mining, logging, fishing, harvesting)
  • making stuff (manufacturing, construction) 
  • selling stuff (wholesale, retail) 
  • transporting and storing stuff (transportation, warehousing)
  • destroying and re-purposing stuff (deconstruction, waste removal, recycling)
  • financing stuff (credit for all the foregoing activities)
You can work recording stuff, either for the entertainment others or for the dispersion of facts (movies, music, publishing). You can work letting people or machines talk at distances (telecom).

You can work serving others for leisure (restaurants, gambling, sports, zoos), for business (accounting, designing, engineering, computing, testing, repairing, defending legally, advising, marketing) or for personal reasons (grooming, cleaning). You can work hauling away stuff that is no longer wanted (waste control).

You can work providing credit to all who do the above (banking, securities), paying off on loss when things above get wrecked (insurance), or brokering things of construction (real estate).

If you work for government indirectly, you can serve people by indoctrinating them into prevailing beliefs paradigms (education), by babysitting them (child care, chronic disease) or by helping to heal them (acute disease).

Working for government directly, you can provide political bribes to the lazy or needy (welfare). You can do oversight of those making stuff in private industry (regulation) or their personal behavior (policing). You can collect facts for those doing private work or government work. You can kill foreigners whom your politicians don't like (military).

In general, you earn more when you are willing to put your life on the line while fewer are willing to do the same. This is so whether you face immediate dangers (e.g., high rise construction, underwater welding) or you postpone living to educate yourself in ever harder to learn things (surgery, medical arts).

On average, those who work as doctors, engineers and those who sell high-priced stuff earn the most. The best rules of thumb are these:

  1. The harder it is to get a skill used in producing property (right of ownership) that others are willing to bid high to acquire in purchases and sales, the more pay you can earn.
  2. The more pressing and acute something is, the greater the willingness someone has to pay to solve it or to pressure others to pay for it.
In private industry, from the 1950s and 1970s until now, technological advance has replaced dumb hands with smart machines amplifying the work of smarter men and women. Thus, all job growth has been in specialization trades or support activities for the various major divisions of industries.

If your plan is to become a CEO, you must start from day one with that goal and every act you do at work must be geared toward the politics of office life toward reaching that goal. At minimum, you must earn a bachelor's degree. It's best to do so in the fields of finance or economics.

Also, among a world of more than seven billion, few rise to the top. Dreaming of being famous, a celebrity is a waste of time, unless you are willing to sacrifice yourself and all of those things that accompany everyday life for the typical person. In short, you must become a monster, a caricature of a man or woman to become a political leader, a CEO, a movie star, a pop star and so on.

Moms and dads of future teenagers should stress math, especially math for decision (odds, interest, ratios, rates of change) and measurement, English for expression (writing), visual communication (2d, 3d sketching for storyboarding), competitive athletics and musical performance.

Parents ought to lead their children in acquiring the skills and ways needed for self-expression. For self-expression is the key to good living. Those with the highest skills in self-expression end up earning more precisely because they can make property in things or experiences that others tend to bid highest to acquire.

Tattoos, fashion, idol worship of celebrities, and the work of psychologists and psychiatrists, thrive because most Americans grow up lacking skills needed for self-expression. Those with the weakest skills of self-expression live vicariously, dependent upon others to do the expressing for them.