This post was written a couple of years ago and I decided to use it for this post. Most of these observations come from growing up the way that I did. We didn’t have a lot, but we had what we needed and didn’t always get what we wanted. Looking back I’m a better man for it. I don’t know if he did it on purpose, but my dad taught me the value of hard work and that you get out of life what you put in it and nothing more.
I understand that people are concerned about the self-esteem of children these days. Nobody ever “loses” at anything. Even the losing team at the sporting event gets some kind of prize or they still get a pizza party, etc. When we were kids, it wasn’t like that. Somebody won and somebody lost. There was a reward for people that were talented or willing to work hard to achieve. People who lost were expected to show good sportsmanship. It didn’t mean you had to like or enjoy it, but you had to recognize in that moment that the person you were dealing with was better than you. Maybe the losing team could use this as motivation to work harder.
“equality” is a hot topic word. Another buzz word among society is “self entitlement”. We are all concerned with making sure everyone gets equal treatment and rewards for all efforts, but many people are also aware of this behavior of self entitlement that is emerging.
My niece played soccer 3 years ago. It was a lot of fun watching 8 year olds running around trying to figure out the rules of the game. The parents are all standing up screaming which way to go, to kick the ball into the net, etc. There was a little girl whose dad was especially loud and boisterous throughout the game and was shouting orders to his daughter loudly. At one point during the game, his daughter looked up to the stands where her dad had been screaming and shouting from, and in a moment of honesty she said, “Dad! Don’t talk to me while I’m playing!” I was happy that she finally said that. For a long time, I was thinking the same thing. My neice was on the same team, but with this guy shouting at his daughter the whole time, it was like the game became about only her. Or maybe the game became all about the dad. The dad that could yell the loudest in the stand gets the most eyes. We sign up kids to be in sports with other kids so that they can get the experience of working as a team and forming a community, while the adults don’t know how to behave as a community. We go to sporting events and pretend it is all about us and nobody else is there.
I also went to a church that had a ballet recital this past year and watched parents standing up in the aisles filming their kids dancing with their ipads. I sat behind them in my wheelchair, my vision obstructed by where they were standing. People couldn’t get out of the aisles if they wanted to. For those parents, the ballet was all about them and their child. I understand that you’re obviously going to watch your own kid during a recital and be proud of what he/she is doing, but it’s not only about YOU. Otherwise, why sign the kid up to dance with other kids? Kids dance just fine in your living room to Barney songs. I don’t see you standing there blocking the door to your home while family members want to come in because you’re filming uber important dancing to “Mr. Golden Sun”.
I think the sense of entitlement that is emerging so strongly in our culture is due in part to parents who have over-rewarded their children in a “positive discipline” effort, and now those kids are growing up and having kids of their own to be raised in the same way. Everyone feels like they deserve the trophy, yet nobody feels they should have to work hard to get there. People say they are willing to work hard, but more often you hear complaints about how meager efforts are going unrewarded, and there must be a clearly defined “reward” for every bit of effort we put forth. I don’t know what the reward will be for my physical therapy sessions, but I know that if it doesn’t make me worse it is making me better, and that is enough reward in itself.
The image was borrowed from here