It's Football Sunday, And Events Have Pushed This Question Into My Mind
Are Our Kids Learning How To Lose And To Become Independent?
Now this is not earth shattering news, it does not concern Iran's nukes or Obama's Czars, but for the future of society it is one often overlooked that needs to be addressed by parents around the country. And what better day than an NFL Sunday to do it. Tomorrow it is back to the larger questions at hand.
The Simplicity Of Competition
You either come in first, or you lose. My mentality in any sport I have ever played was to give 110%, and to play to win. Little joy was taken from the fact that both teams played hard, but only one could win and it wasn't me. But that's life!
In any endeavor, play to win is the only way, but by the same token, to understand that the potential to lose also exists. Not to be happy about losing, not to get a thrill from the experience, but to accept it and understand that the next time you go out there adjustments will have to be made either within yourself, the team concept or in the style of play to improve the result. At the end of the game, you would shake the hands of the other team who got you this time, but not next time.
Kids Today Are Sheltered, Protected From The Inevitable Disappointments Or Bumps In The Road - Some examples:
Everybody makes the team or some team - no cuts
Everybody plays at least part of the game regardless of the impact on the team
Parents will talk to coaches at all levels about playing time, unable to objectively see the capabilities of their child or to respect the parent/coach relationship
Screaming at referees and kids on other teams because winning is the only option, and losing can only be the fault of someone else, not ourselves
I don't like the teacher, change my kid to another class
Classes are pass/fail because kids shouldn't be differentiated by grades.
Writing the college essay for kids helping make sure they get into the college they want
Calling Johnny's mother to find out why your son wasn't invited to his party, and then getting your son invited
It Sounds Trivial, But They All Send A Message
When kids grow up and leave the house for college or career, a parents ability to manage the expectations and results of life's road ends, or at the very least is severely curtailed. Your professor gives you a bad grade, a boss is overbearing or unfair or a relationship hits the rocks, it is up to your child to handle it, resolve it, or not. We are out of the loop, but have they been adequately prepared for that eventuality?
By teaching children that losing, or disappointments, are extremely rare or that any unpleasant situation can be resolved to an acceptable result, we are implanting unreasonable expectations and a sense of entitlement that does not exist in "real life". There are going to be winners, and there are going to be losers. That is the reality.
While nobody wants to see a kid crying or devastated from disappointment, parents have to use them as a tool to teach life's lessons. When kids see parents getting on the phone to talk to the league commissioner to try and push their son or daughter onto a team they probably don't belong on, you are teaching them a dangerous lesson that at some point will come back to haunt them or you.
Play hard, try hard, fight hard, work hard and give 110%, and if it wasn't good enough this time, it may be next time. Shake hands and move on.