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Posts Tagged ‘participation trophies’

While an important part of parenting is caring and providing for our children, another equally vital element is preparing them for life in the adult world. Many times our efforts toward the former can unwittingly undermine our efforts toward the latter.  As I watch an unprecedented number of my contemporaries raising their grandchildren, most often because their own children can’t be bothered with it, I can’t help but think that some of these ideas may have contributed to the problem.  As you read through these it’s easy to see how interrelated they are.

 

  1. “Education is the most important thing.” While I would never argue the importance of a good education, I’ve come to recognize that ultimately there is something of even greater value, and that is work ethic. After dealing with highly educated people, who possess little work ethic, and uneducated people, who are hard workers, I would choose the latter every time. I’ve found that you can teach someone with a good work ethic just about anything, but without that quality, a good education becomes of little worth. Like education, work ethic is something that has to be consciously cultivated throughout a child’s formative years.

 

  1. “Why stand in line when you can drive thru.” Western culture has taken the attribute of “convenience” to absurd new heights, and, more often than not, has sacrificed genuine quality along the way. Few would argue that fast and/or processed foods have much nutritional value, yet we as American’s tend to view them as a worthwhile trade-off for the convenience that comes with them. Unfortunately, we are raising generations of kids with that same “fast food / microwave” mentality to life and relationships.  They increasingly have the expectation that everything should be fast and easy; and they have little patience or perseverance for anything that isn’t.  Unconsciously they are coming to prefer the weightlessness of virtual reality (e.g. Facebook, You-tube, Twitter…) to the friction and gravity of the real world.  These patterns render them unprepared for the adversity that is an inherent part of human existence.

 

  1. “I don’t want my kids to have to struggle like I did.” Undoubtedly, no one likes to struggle and as parents, we hate to see our kids struggle even more. Unfortunately, it is in the midst of the struggle that we tend to develop the character and work ethic that it takes to overcome adversity. Like lifting a barbell with no weights on it, the lack of any real resistance prevents muscles from developing.  A truly successful person isn’t as much defined by their victories as they are by how they handled the adversity they encountered along the way.  As I raise my own children, I’ve come to realize that saving them from every struggle will likely handicap them for life.

 

  1. “You’re the exception to the rule.” As a parent, it is important to let each child know that they are truly unique and special; but often times, in our efforts to convey that, we make them believe that they are the exception to the rule. While that generally does make them feel special, I’ve found that it doesn’t take long for a child to believe that they ought to be the exception to every rule and that “if you really loved them”, you’d find a way to exempt them from all the rules they don’t want to follow. For such a child, life becomes an endless series of rationalizations, negotiations and manipulations with the people who have influence over them (e.g. parents, teachers, coaches…).  Ultimately this pattern tends to carry on into their adult relationships (e.g. with their spouse, with their employer, with their creditors…) as well.

 

  1. Everyone’s a winner. My kids have walls full of trophies (and medals) from all the sports they’ve participated in. One day they asked me where my trophies were and they were genuinely amazed when I explained that, when I was a kid, only the champion’s won a trophy. While as a parent I can appreciate the idea of building self-esteem by giving everyone a trophy at the end of the season, as someone living in the adult world, I can also see the folly of it. That same kid who always had an excuse to miss practice, who never came to games prepared to play, who never really contributed to the team, and who got the same trophy at the end, is generally the guy who does the same thing on the job and expects to get the same paycheck as everyone else.

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