David McCullough’s Speech angered some, but touched on something the entitled youth in our country struggle with daily. Being number one, the best, the most special. As informed parents, we’ve worked so hard to develop their self esteem from the time they’re born. We read books and listen to all the advice out there on how to raise the most secure, stable, and brilliant children possible. We’ve been there with the camera to snap a photo every time adorableness occurs. Mostly we’ve just told them how great they are and how much we love them. But if they’re so great, why don’t they feel the satisfaction of all life has to offer?
In the world where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, it’s a tough thing. At some point, say around third grade, school gets hard. The grades don’t have smiley faces anymore. The teachers don’t use that kind and happy tone all the time like they used to.
We’ve omitted a few important things in the process of pumping up our offspring. Everyone can’t feel good about everything all the time. Life is full of failure and the consequences of obvious bad decisions and things we can’t control. We must teach kids how to deal. Deal with the bad things that happen to good people every day. Starting with not always being first. There are lots of people in this world. Lots. Rarely will they finish first more than once in awhile, no matter the situation. Coping with less than winning is essential to happiness.
People get sick, accidents occur, people die. Those are the really bad ones. The small disappointments happen every day. Learning to cope with frustration without mom and dad around or someone to rush in and fix things needs to be taught early. As parents, we have to prepare them for the very idea that while we love them and believe they are our great gifts, there are several billions of others just as special to their parents as well. Or as the intuitive Rolling Stones put it, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Respect for the specialness of brethren is essential for a balanced sense of where one belongs in this world. The me, me, me is understandable as a toddler, but in this day and age, the idea that our young adults carry this egocentric ideology beyond childhood is rather sad. What’s even worse is when they do learn how small each one of us in relation to the big world, it’s likely a nasty smackdown, sometimes causing real emotional issues.
We are all special. But no one deserves applause for being. So, as we parent, it’s a kindness to our children to feed self esteem as we feed an appreciation for the specialness of those around us.
That’s my soapbox sermon for today. I hope my kids read it.
Have a great week!