There is something really healthy right between how we raise our kids today and how our parents raised us. When I was growing up, the world didn’t revolve around the kids. We were one generation after “children are to be seen but not heard”. In those days, parents would never change their plans to accommodate children. If we wanted center stage, we had to either do something really good or really stupid. Somehow though, without being the center, we knew we were deeply loved and didn’t feel short changed. A lot has changed in society since those days. Advancement in technology and inroads in psychology have shaken up how we look at just about everything. Some things wonderful, some, not so much.
Let me make this absolutely clear. There is not a bone in my body that doesn’t want kids to feel good about themselves. There’s nothing as heart-warming as a happy kid! I must confess that while writing this piece, I came to the realization that I could easily qualify as a helicopter mom. At least when my kids were young. Looking back, I remember the pressure. Countless hours striving away to get them on good teams with the best coaches, into thoroughly vetted schools, orchestrating playdates and signing them up for way too many activities. Ahh, exhausting! As my children aged out of this phase, I burned out of it.
Lately, in the news, the phenomenon of the “Participation Trophy” has been front and center. A friend of mine calls this movement, “the downfall of western civilization.” Where that may sound dramatic; think about this. The lessons learned from playing sports are supposed to be about teamwork, responsibility, passion, accountability, attitude, winning and losing. While an honorable attempt to make sure that nobody’s feelings get hurt, the ‘participation’ philosophy encourages a sense of entitlement while hindering our children’s growth in so many valuable life lessons.
A ‘give me, give me’, mentality is contributing to a society of takers. Instead of trying to build up our children’s self-esteem with a trophy, why not concentrate on loftier lessons with lasting impact.
Author and motivational speaker, John Maxwell says, “If we are always growing, we are always outside of our comfort zone.” (Whoa there, don’t we want to keep them in their comfort zone?) He goes on to say, “The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.”
Do we save our kids from failing young only to be devastated by failure later in life? How are kids going to learn and grow from their mistakes if they are led to believe they never make them?
There’s a balance between being tossed out of the nest to learn to fly and being handed a first class seat. Let’s pay closer attention to the spiritual side of things instead of material rewards. Knowing God is the ultimate trophy. Think about who we are “modeling”. In weakness and adversity have confidence that a greater purpose is in store.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” Colin Powell