Photo Credit: Jon Flobrant

“How can I help my child continue learning?”

Systems break down, but our children don’t need to miss out

Paul Alan Aspen
7 min readJul 7, 2020


Times are not easy, and with the elections just around the corner here in my home country, I doubt any comprehensive solution will present itself soon. Uncertainty and fear permeate the current atmosphere: inconsistent mask laws, conflicting reports and rumors, closures and reopenings and reclosings and job losses, looming threats from fines to CPS to health and safety as gangs and mobs grow increasingly bold…

To top it all off, many schools aren’t opening yet which means we need to educate our kids somehow in the middle of all of this.

It’s enough to make you feel powerless, trapped in this weird limbo. It’s not hellish, but it’s deeply uncomfortable and nobody has any idea what will happen in the next month. How do you make plans?

When I was starting to plan out my future as a young schoolboy, asking myself what I wanted to do with my life and looking at the adults around me and my studies, my hobbies and preferences and skills, I believed that school was the surest path to success. I was told it over and over by parents, counselors, advisors, books and magazines, and the evidence of the monolithic educational institutions themselves. I’d say I followed blindly, but I was definitely led down the path I walked by a hundred hands.

The high school 4.0 gave way to awards and honors in college, fighting past health issues and sacrificing sleep, tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, close friendships, and the brightest years of my mind to get a degree. I had done it. I had won.

Photo Credit: Joseph Chan

Then I looked around for a life to settle into, a job that would look at my performance and accomplishment and say, “We want you to become a pillar in our organization, we’ll show you the ropes and reward your work for us.” But nobody cared, really. My credentials impressed many, in the superficial way of a factoid, but this promise that this was the path to a solid life?

Myth. Fantasy. An illusion. The path I felt so convinced was set and sure simply evaporated as soon as I put my hand on the diploma. School had failed me.

For a while I raged. Felt depressed, trapped. I blamed “the system” and my boss and parents and coworkers and my school advisors, lamenting… Lamenting what I was too crushed to admit were my own poor choices.

My younger-self’s inner battle is a mirror for the present circumstances. Everything seemed to be falling apart, and just as where I left off in my own story the United States does not have a clear path forward and our collective poor choices — especially our choices of inadequate and embarrassing democratically-elected leaders and publically-financed intelligentsia — are catching up with us.

We have a long way to fall, and it looks cold, dark, and scary. Our present looms large as hard times, hard decisions, and hard actions are all we can see from our position as we descend into the valley. Resolving these issues of reduced personal autonomy and powerlessness is just beginning.

Photo Credit: David Foti

Millennials like me have already been through this struggle once, internally. The most important division in my generation is exposed on this very hill: Do you fall into anxiety and blame others as you wallow in the present darkness, or do you admit your poor choices and work hard to make the future better?

We were sold a bill of goods all the way through school about how to succeed. We were told we would emerge educated and superior for having done so. We would not have a hard time finding work because we would come through those years with skills and understanding that would make us the better choice, every time.

At the other end, we found mockery as fragile, unprepared, and weak. An entire generation not unprepared, but even worse: malprepared. Right now, a huge number of my peers are out there burning buildings and breaking things, hurting people and destroying property because this is injustice.

The educational system chopped our knees off, and the legal system is enforcing the debts and perpetuating the consequences of our choices and trapping us. That this weight strapped to our backs is the result of our own choices is too much for them to admit, so they blame and bite and burn at the System. Anything to avoid personal responsibility.

Photo Credit: Heather M. Edwards

There is a more mature way.

It is a humble way, and it can feel like surrendering when compared to the adrenaline-pumping rush of rage and lashing out in a screaming tantrum for someone else to fix something— a new president, a new police force, a new employer or policy or whole blasted system.

You don’t have to say “it’s all my own fault” because it isn’t. I would never ask you to be dishonest. But you can choose to say “I will change my decisions so I get what I want out of life.”

Instead of dwelling on past wrongs, look to the future you are investing in. What are you making tomorrow look like? It is silly to scream when there is no authority who can fix it — the next president isn’t going to step down from Washington DC and fix your local issues. That’s in your hands.

Photo Credit: Leo Rivas

Work for tomorrow. All the energy spilling out of people these days is mindblowing. People are angry, frustrated, upset, sad, afraid, and they feel lost and powerless. Out of control. Attacked, even. All of these emotions are legitimate, but if you just hold onto a strong emotion it will do you no good, nor help those around you.

Emotions are fuel for you to use to make a change in your life, your neighborhood, your world. Emotions are powerful so that they can get your mental state shifted, so you have the energy and drive and power to get moving.

It isn’t just about feeling them, it’s about using them to act and get out of the uncomfortable situation. Lashing out at “Them” might work when there’s a stable parent who can dispense justice between siblings or offer you a way forward from some plight, but our System isn’t able to act as a parent right now. Even when it has in the past, it hasn’t been good at it!

So I encourage you to use your energy to invest in the future instead of tearing things down, and to focus on your life, your community, and especially your own family during this time. You can make those changes happen, and make tomorrow better.

The number one way to make tomorrow better? Ensuring that the kids around you keep up with their education.

Even when this battle is done, they will have to be prepared for their own and it is a parent’s job to see that they will be. You don’t have to grumble and send them away from you, uncertain that they’re actually learning skills or how to succeed. They learn more from you than their school anyway!

Photo Credit: Ricardo Moura

Take the reins. You are not locked in the present. You have the power to change the future.

I’ve put together a whole bunch of resources in a Summit for you to look through, absolutely free from July 26–28. Whether you want to cover the time your kid is missing in the Fall or you’re interested in switching over to home education, there’s something for you here.

This is a resource for parents struggling right now with current events, not general “parenting” or “teaching” or “homeschooling” advice. That’s already out there if you want it. Since the summit is so open, share it with anyone you know who wants more resources and support with their kids.

I made this so that you can make informed choices for your children so they can be prepared for life. I don’t offer one solution to every person, I offer resources for making a plan and executing on it so that you can help your child thrive in this uncertainty. I brought together experts from a variety of handpicked fields specifically so the Summit can address the present situation.

Keep your focus on what you can do, not on everything you can’t. No matter how endangered you feel, or how the System works or how you were failed, the innocent generation deserves your support.

Photo Credit: Bas de Korte



Paul Alan Aspen - I help visual designers get recognized by telling stories of their skills in a way clients will understand - courses & writing services for hire