Such a simple statement, and yet, it says so much.It is arguably the most important message that the youth of today and tomorrow need to learn as early as possible, in their lives. I am not advocating cruelty towards children, as some of today’s “fragile psyche” crowd will take this. I am calling for parents to stop eliminating every hurtful moment and/or disappointment that children used to be forced to face and overcome.
Children who learn to cope with disappointment at an early age will most definitely be stronger and more able to successfully overcome letdowns and disappointments, which tend to be under much more important circumstances, as an adult. Is there any doubt as to why we have so many teens and young adults suffering from depression.
It is quite simple to me (insert joke here) that we have pampered and babied our children to the point that they make it all the way into their teenage years having experienced little to none of the trials and tribulations they need to successfully navigate their high school years and adulthood.
We have eliminated winners and losers, grading systems which tell a student they have “Failed” a subject. We threaten and/or sue the family and school district the minute we hear that our child was so much as picked on at school by another child.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, we taught children that there are winners and losers. All the way down to the lowest level, kids learned that if they were hit in dodgeball they were out. If they were consistently eliminated early they were forced to face the fact that they weren’t very good at that contest. They were required to navigate a crossroad: they could (A) practice and work harder to improve their performance in dodgeball, or (B) stop playing dodgeball and find a new hobby in the schoolyard. This taught them the skills they needed to one day embark on a journey to successfully find a career.
Today they are being taught that if they are not good at a particular game or hobby that must inherently be an unfair game that should no longer be played. It is being ingrained, via the action of adults, that any game where there are winners and losers and/or any child could get their feelings hurt or feel as though they are not equal to another, must not be allowed on the playground.
Additionally, we as parents, are not allowing our children to cope with disappointment. When I was a child my parents divorced at a fairly young age. My father would set up weekends to come get me. My father worked 2nd shift, meaning he would come to pick me up late, often 1am to 2am. I especially loved when I knew we would be going fishing when he picked me up. We would drive straight into Illinois on a 3 hour or so excursion, listening to Hank Williams music as the sun began to light the morning sky. I still cherish every one of those trips and always will, but guess what? There were times that while I was patiently and anxiously waiting to be picked up that the telephone would ring. Trust me, when the phone rings at 1am, you know what it is. My father worked very hard and would often, at the last minute, be called on to work weekend overtime. Any time I heard the dreadful ringing of that phone, I knew that I was not being picked up or going fishing with my father.
Did it hurt? You’re right it hurt. In fact, as I typed that it still hurt a little. It wasn’t my father’s fault and I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose to teach me to cope or anything, but I do remember vaguely the first time it happened and that I was somewhat of what Dane Cook would call a “babbling brook” on the phone about the situation. My father told me he was sorry, but that it couldn’t be helped and I had to learn to deal with disappointment from time to time. He couldn’t have been more correct. Looking back I wouldn’t change those times for anything. being forced to deal with the disappointment of not being able to go fishing with my dad pales in comparison with the trials and tribulations I have been forced to navigate in the last two years. If I had not learned to cope with these problems, at a simpler level earlier in life, I would not have dealt with injustices and troubled times as well as I believe I have.
Today, society is nursing and protecting their children at all costs from any sadness, disappointment, or anger all the way through their teenage years; and often into college. They then, having never been forced to deal appropriately with these emotions, are thrust into the real world where these emotions are a daily occurrence. What a joke!! The fact that we expect any different result than what we are seeing today is hilarious.
When it comes right down to it, every kid needs go through a few things in childhood. Every kid needs to get their butt kicked by another kid, at least once. Every kid needs to have something stolen from them. Every kid needs to be bullied (Yeah, I said it!!!) at least once and be forced to cope with it. Every kid needs to be told by a teacher that their test was horrible and they failed. Every kid needs to play a sport and be involved in two big games; one that they win, and one that they lose. Every kid needs to experience a situation where their parents either let them down, or are unable to assist them. All of these events build character and strength in children, and ultimately create winners in life. And yes, as painful as it is for everyone to accept, there are still winners and losers in life, and they generally arrive in each of the categories via their own actions or inactions; though not always…life isn’t fair.
Ronald Williams maintains a political blog at www.silentnomoremajority.blogspot.com
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