To some it must seem like I’m always picking on the ‘challenged and misunderstood’ teenagers of our day. Not true. But I am concerned about those challenged teenagers who are not being taught what they need to know so they’re better prepared to live in an often unforgiving world. For many parents, they need look no further than their own living rooms or family rooms to witness what I am talking about.
It is true, of course, that there are many ambitious, well adjusted, highly functioning and productive kids out there. But what of those who are not? What is missing from their lives? This group of kids appear to be content spending their lifetime interested in nothing outside of an x-box or an iphone.
For me there are two basic things going on here that parents, in general, don’t want to see or admit to:
1. Many parents have relinquished their responsibilities to educate their kids regarding the basic ‘Life Lessons’ they’ll need so that they will have a chance at living a decent life when they leave home. Currently many of our kids are woefully ill-prepared to do this. These same parents are content to blame all their misgivings about their kids on an educational system that finds it more important to name our body parts correctly. Most of the ‘life lessons’ I speak of are not taught in schools today partly because too many parents are trying to be their kids ‘friend’ instead of their parent. They don’t need friends. They need parents who will teach them about boundaries, consequences for poor decisions, respect for themselves and for others, and the need to take some responsibility for their own success. Life Lessons. Sadly, our children are so bound in the belief that just because they show up to school everyday they are entitled to a diploma. Many of today’s kids expect their parents to give over whatever junior needs to get by ‘out there.’ After all, they say, they didn’t ask to be born. But the message they (parents) need to be sending is “if you want it then go earn it. There are no free rides.” That’s a Life Lesson.
2. Where does this attitude of entitlement come from? It comes from parents not doing their jobs as teachers of those needed life lessons. Kids are not exposed to nor are they being taught by their parents about the absolute need to learn how to compete-for anything. Parents, apparently, are of the belief that it is more important to protect their kid’s self-esteem–whatever that is or means–than to actually teach their kids how to face the reality that the world may not always give them what they want. They need to learn how to function in it as a real life adult person. That’s the real world not some fantasy world that lives or exists in a black box near the TV.
How can I say that? I have had too many conversations with and around parents who teach their kids that it is more important to pay attention to how you ‘play the game’ as opposed to winning the game. It’s like ‘winning’ is a bad thing somehow. Kids want to win–winning is fun. There is nothing wrong with winning. This is an extremely important life lesson that many parents are not delivering. When their kids are on their own they had better get the idea that winning the competition for a good job is vital to the quality of life they might enjoy. Winning is really good for the ego and self-esteem as well so if you are concerned about juniors self-esteem teach him the value of doing his best and of working hard to prepare for the ‘game’ or the competition. If you do your best that’s all you are required to do. The rest will take care of itself. Another important life lesson is ‘Not every kid should get a trophy for just showing up.’ They learn nothing from this non-sense. Real life doesn’t work this way. And what about the kids who understand the value of hard work and applying their skills to the task at hand. Do they not deserve recognition for their achievements? Yes–they do. They stand out above the others because they were willing to do what it took to WIN.
What we do need to be teaching our children is how to win with class, never to win at someone else’s expense and always with humility. If you have tried your very best and you have come second in the race–don’t hang your head but be proud that you know you gave it your best and it wasn’t quite good enough this time around. IF you want to win the next time figure out what else you need to do then work harder.
Victory at ALL costs is not the message. The message needs to be do your absolute best in all you try to do and learn from your mistakes. You’ll win your fair share if you do.
Bill Gates once commented: ” Life is not fair-get used to it”
Anyways, that’s how I see it–all the best Jim
Please send me your thoughts or comments at: jimcloughley.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org