That’s right, you’re not as special as you were led to believe

I want to preface this post with this:

I fully believe that every single person on the planet has something unique and special to offer to the world.  Just by our being here, we will influence people and we will make a difference – if we choose to.

But, now, I have to get up on my soapbox for a moment:

I have worked with children for years.  I love children. Some more than others. Some WAY more than others.

Alright, some I outright abhor.

These are the ones that think that they are all that because they have been told this over and over and over again.  They have been given a false sense of entitlement.  They think that every single person in the world should treat them like the royalty that they have been led to believe they are.

And why shouldn’t they believe that?  I have reams of certificates from my sons’ schools saying that they are “special.”  For example:

Good Attendance Award:  this award is given for not missing any school in a quarter.  Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that you were supposed to go to school every day unless you were a) throwing up & running a fever; b) just hit by a car/bus/any other vehicle; c) had to go to a funeral of a CLOSE relative (cousins twice removed don’t count…unless you’re in West Virginia cause then they might also be a sibling); d) you are having life saving surgery.

See, I don’t think you should get an award for something that you should be doing anyway.  Which leads me to my next one:

Citizenship Award:  this award is given for being a good citizen.  In my school days, this was considered something that you should do every day and not get rewarded for.  In fact, this is something everyone should do everyday.  It covers being helpful, polite, conscientous, etc.  In other words, treating your fellow students the way you would like to be treated.

Since when did this become award worthy?  I thought we were all supposed to be doing this!

There are tons more.  Homework award (doing your homework every night), Testing award (doing well on tests), Friendly award (for being friendly).

What???

These things are all things that are supposed to be done in school.  You’re supposed to do homework, you’re supposed to do well on tests, you should never be rude.  Why do these get a certificate?

I can understand a certificate for making an honor roll (you have to work hard to achieve that).  I can understand singling out a valedictorian or salutorian at high school graduation.  Those things should be celebrated.

But that other stuff?  Those are responsibilities, not things that should be given awards for.  That would be like me giving my kids a certificate for doing their chores.  No, thank you.

And don’t even get me started on youth sports.

Hasn’t anyone figured out that if EVERYONE gets a special trophy then NO ONE is special?  We hand them out like they are candy and they are about as worthless.  It’s another piece of hardward to put on a shelf somewhere so that it can collect dust.

The dust is probably more special than the wholesale trophy that was handed out to EVERY SINGLE teammember.

And the kids expect these things!

Because we have conditioned them to expect them.

Why?

Why can’t we make children understand the difference between being truly exceptional and the difference between participation and responsibility?

Because we don’t want to.

My generation is the worst.  The baby boomers were unduly under the influence of Dr. Spock and other pop psychologists when they raised their children.  Then we grew up in the 80’s (Greed is good….instant gratification) where we got pretty much whatever we wanted.

Now we have children.

I have always made it a point of pride to tell my children “No.”  I remember being in a store and my children going nuts over the check out counter candy, asking if they could have some.  I told them, “No, and don’t ask me again. You don’t need any candy.”  The guy at the counter looked at me and said, “I don’t know how many times I’ve seen kids come through here and throw a fit and their parents just give in.  You’re the first one that I’ve seen say ‘No.'”

Seriously?

Don’t parents understand that “NO” is a word that their children will hear more often throughout their life than any other word?

– “No, we’re not hiring.”

– “No, I don’t want to date you.”

– “No, you’re not qualified.”

I mean, telling your children “Yes” all the time leaves them ill-equipped to deal with the real world.

Know who says “yes” to your children all the time?

Their friends.

How about you try being a parent instead of a friend?

How about you do your job and prepare your child for the real world rather than coddling them and giving them an unreal idea of how the world is going to treat them?

Your child is special, no doubt.  They’re special because they are here.  They will make a difference in the world because they exist.

But, let’s face it.  How many of the children out there are truly exceptional?

Childhood should not be the best times of their lives.  Childhood should be a safe, secure time where they learn how to be productive adults and they get a good foundation to go out and have the best times of their lives.

A teacher at Wellsely High School gave the following speech.  I thought it summed up very nicely what I’m trying to say here and did it with humor and panache as well.

Notice he ended his speech with this comment:   “The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.”

No one person is more special than anyone else.

We would do well to teach our children this.

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22 thoughts on “That’s right, you’re not as special as you were led to believe

  1. Great post! Great video too. “Why can’t we make children understand the difference between being truly exceptional and the difference between participation and responsibility?” Used to be that we’d send’em off to war, and they’d come back knowing the difference, counting blessings, but sadly celebrating mediocrity is the new, celebratory “1st place”.

  2. I agree completly, I think it is good to award children for doing something well and showng them you see that they are trying or doing as good as they can but teaching them that they will always succeed is wrong and makes for weak grownups

    • It is sickening to see how people award children for doing what they should be doing instead of awarding them for rising above and going beyond. We are raising a generation of entitlement children. They are going to be shocked when they get out into the real world!

  3. Standing here clapping and cheering!! And while we’re rewriting the rules of parenting, could we also teach our children how to solve their own problems?

    • OMG! Wouldn’t that be awesome! When are people going to realize that making mistakes is part of how children learn? We need to stop being “helicopter parents” and let go of the tether. There’s a reason they cut the umbilical cord when they’re born!

  4. Agreed. Completely. I was saying the same thing a week or so ago on my blog. It’s going to be a sad day when all these pampered kids turn 18 and then find out what life is really like.

  5. I think you hit the nail on the head with that word ‘responsibility’. We seem to have bred a generation that doesn’t seem to see the responsibilities they have in the world and the sense of entitlement comes from everyone making excuses for everything … I think your soapbox is shared by many 🙂

    • If it’s shared by many, then they are the silent majority. I see so many children that do not take responsibility for their actions and they have been taught that they don’t have to. I think the most outrageous example of this (and if I was at work, I’d include the link) was the boy that was kicked out of his honors english class for cheating (after signing a pledge saying he wouldn’t) and his father sued the school. WTF? How is that teaching your child responsibility.

      I wish the idea was shared by more and put into practice much more often!

      • I think many do share the soapbox but feel powerless to say anything because of the mistaken social pressure to make everyone ‘equal’ at any cost. For me it’s a relentless pressure by Governing bodies to dumb down the population and I see a lot of it over here in the UK.

      • The governing agencies (and those that work in them) are not helpful to the parent that wishes to do as I have stated in this post. However, if you want to make all the children equal and just as good as everyone else, then they are sure trying their hardest. Sometimes, the government just needs to get out of the way. Not always, and I reserve my right to be a totaly hypocrite about which situations I think need government attention, but sometimes they need to just let the parents do their thing.

  6. Where was this guy during our Graduation, heck during our ENTIRE senior year?!!! His message was one of truth but also done with class and a side of hilarity to make it all wash down real nice.
    In all actuality we as a human race just need to get our of our way. We are politically correcting ourselves right out of the very society we started because we wanted to be different and making each and everyone of our kids “cookie cutter”. Its kinda like ONLY Having sex in the missionary position, which gets the job done and CAN be interesting with a few adjustments but gets rather old and dull after some time.
    hmm did I make my point? I sure hope so, cause honestly I Had some of those “cookie cutter” kids running around my house yelling questions about making dinner. Oh yeah…mine are trained to make dinner….maybe not soo cookie cutter after all?
    PS they are 16 and 18 and I will be willing to rent them out to teach yours to cook dinner for you!

    • I bet this guy is an awesome teacher. And you did make your point. Graphically, but it was made well. We do need to get out of our own way. We need to allow parents to parent and give the responsibility back to them to do so. We are raising our children in a nanny state. I think that is way more dangerous than socialism any day because it removes the responsibility from the people that should have it. And those people that should have the responsibility need to take it and actually exercise it.

  7. I’m in total agreement, if the Government’s took a step back and placed responsibility for parenting back with the parents, it would mean that the teachers could concentrate on teaching 🙂

    • Truth!!! I’m so sick of hearing how parents think that the teachers and/or school district should parent their children. That is the parent’s job, not the teacher’s and not the school’s. Just another example of how parents don’t take responsibility and their children are learning the same behaviors!

  8. Pingback: “COMPASSION” is The Weekly Word – how would you use this word? | woman on the edge of reality

  9. It is a different time now. It’s been very touchy feely for awhile now and it probably boils down to someone’s political career down the line. The technology and the psychology is foreign to me most times, but it is the world of now.
    I have accepted the awards and kudos given to all and I even have one of those Citizenship Award Kids residing in my home. The only thing I can do, is keep them grounded as much as possible. Tell them to try their best, always behave better than you do at home, treat everyone as fairly and kindly as possible and always say thank you….even if it’s for an award that everyone else around you just got. BUT…..above all…..No one is better. Just different.

    • I have accepted each of these awards, too. But, I’m with you. Making sure that they understand that they are not better, just different, is extremely important. That’s a lesson that some parents would do well to learn.

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