03 Dec Safe Zones and Just Deserts
Imagine this little scenario. Your 17 year old son comes to you with a notebook in hand. “Mom and dad, I have some demands I’d like to review with you. First, I’m done doing chores around the house. House work is just too menial for me and it makes me feel sad. I will no longer have a curfew because it hurts my feelings when I come in late and you get mad at me. I don’t feel safe. I also demand that my weekly allowance be raised to $400 per month. I know that’s a jump but I also need a new truck and it will take a lot more upkeep.”
Ok enough of this nonsense. You get the drift. If this was one of my kids at my house or me at my parents’ house, that would have been met with raucous laughter or a slap back to reality. Yet this is what we’re hearing from college students all across the country. Demands for free tuition, all student debt forgiven, a “safe place” where no one disagrees with them, and a $15 minimum wage for all campus employees. What is even more incredible? That reputable American universities are caving to these children! The University of Michigan, Yale, Brown, Princeton, and Dartmouth to name a few. I won’t take the time to document examples of ridiculous demands because you can find any and all with the click of a button on the Internet.
It’s embarrassing but the old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” is certainly prevalent here. These protesting students from the LGBT, black, transvestite, etc. communities make up a tiny percentage of college campuses. While I empathize with any group that feels oppressed or “unsafe” because someone actually disagrees with them, that’s….life. That would be awesome if everyone agreed with me and did it my way. Ain’t going to happen folks! Everyone on this earth has trials and tribulations. There are people who have more than you, there are people who have less. People who are more talented, richer, prettier, or smarter than you and way more who have less. It’s what we do with those challenges that makes us stronger, develop character and become productive citizens that can then contribute to our individual communities. Facing them head on is what will make you feel “safe” when someone disagrees with you. And they will!
I contend that Dr. Spock from the 60’s may have given birth to this idea that we were to shower our children with hugs and love and to tell them they were special at all times regardless of their behavior. Believe me, nothing is more important than love but something went a little haywire with this philosophy of raising children. Soon we were not keeping score at kids’ t-ball games and everyone got a trophy merely for showing up and breathing. I remember my daughter in the fourth grade receiving an orange ribbon for coming in last at a swim meet. Even at that young age she knew it was bogus and threw it in the trash. Did she feel “special”? No! What she learned was that swimming was not her gig. What she should have done was organize a sit in and demand that she get a head start before all the best swimmers. Certainly it wasn’t fair that she was terrible at swimming when so many others were great!
Nonsense! We would have been ashamed at such thinking.
There’s such a fine line with disciplining with love while raising children. The more stable a home environment the child has, the more secure he/she will be growing up. Studies have consistently shown that children in a two parent home who are taught principles of love, honesty and trust are generally more well-adjusted and can handle it when trials and challenges come up. Which is going to happen! As parents, our number one duty is to arm our children with the tools they will need when they encounter bullies at school, difficult teachers, trying to earn a spot on a team, tough coaches, learning to play a instrument, studying a difficult subject in school, etc.
I have talked to several young men and women who, when entering the world of adulthood have experienced obstacles and demands that have seemed almost overwhelming. There is a direct correlation between those in their youth who learned to face the difficult and demanding with stick- to-itness, and those who were pampered and coddled while parents picked up the slack when they failed. The coddled generally had a much harder time coping with the cultural changes and the difficulties encountered. Failing is as important as succeeding. We need to allow our kids to experience both.
So here’s another scenario. You’re head of human resources at your company. You need to hire two new employees. You interview both and this is what you hear as they reveal a little about themselves. Candidate 1: “I graduated from Yale University in Chinese Women Studies. I led a group on campus to promote diversity and fairness for four years. Because I am 1/32 Indian, my tuition was paid for by the government. I was taught to do what I wanted throughout my life because life is unfair and I would never get as big a piece of the pie as other white kids despite anything I did. Life is unfair and that’s just the way it is. This would be my first job ever because my dad felt like my studies were way more important than me working.”
Candidate 2: “My parents were divorced when I was three. My mother raised us five kids while working three jobs. She would allow us only one hour of TV per week and demanded that we do our best in school. C’s were considered average, and my mother said we were above average. We believed her. I worked all through high school to contribute to the family budget, therefore, I didn’t play sports. She taught us that God had given us more talent than we would ever know and that we could do anything with those talents. I graduated in the top three I my class in college. We never had assistance from anyone. We did it ourselves.”
Who do you hire? No commentary needed. We’ve done it to ourselves. Raised a generation of socially crippled children who cannot cope with today’s issues because they see themselves as victims. What can you do? Hug your children and love them. But make them responsible for their actions. Do not bail them out if they don’t do their homework or get in trouble at school. Make them face the music. They will become stronger and develop a character of steel that will prepare them for the next challenge which is on the horizon. Wake up America! Celebrate your children’s successes and love them through their failures. That’s called a “safe zone”.