Monday, December 12, 2011

Gold Stars

Recently I came across an article about kids & their sense of entitlement--I thought it rather a timely concept as the holidays approach & a cacophony of little petulant voices start whining for this toy or that game or that iphone.  I thought I'd work it up into a blog post but just hadn't found the right moment until I heard this story at lunch today & it just knocked my socks off.  I reference this article where I first gained my inspiration for this post:

One of my co-workers read me an email sent to her husband who is an assistant coach on a travel league.  Recently they had their awards dinner & recognition for a good season.  Sounds pretty good, right?  Kids playing team sports should be recognized for demonstrating good sportsmanship, courage, being a team leader, & most improved player, etc.  This isn't handing out gold stars, just basic positive reinforcement--nothing over-the-top.  This email basically said that the mom couldn't understand why Johnny, who has been coached by the husband for two years was passed over yet again for an award.  She went on to say how much her son deserved the specific award (apparently the most vaunted one) & that this coach was very short-sighted for not seeing what a brilliant player Johnny was & how pissed off she was that he wasn't recognized, even for something small like, "great job this season," publicly. How dare Coach___ for not seeing this.  She went on to say that Johnny will never be coached again by this manOMG!!  This woman probably didn't read this out loud or to her husband before she pressed the send button & maybe she didn't want to, but if this is her typical behavior where Johnny is concerned, I fear for his future.  No wonder Gen Yers are so difficult to work with--they expect to be praised for everything they do, including farting well.  And now they are passing this trait onto their children. I'm sure that this mom doesn't realize what she is doing to her boy--by expecting to receive praise at every turn in his life, Johnny will not understand the harsh reality of the future that "Life Really Isn't Fair" sometimes. Ah, the wonders of Helicopter Parents.  Hovering so close so as to make sure that Johnny never gets hurt, disappointed, embarrassed, or ever feel sad. ever.

But I have to say that with the onset of Helicopter parenting there is a positive.  Believe it or not.  When I was a child parents really never considered the kids' feelings about big lifetime changes like divorce.  Parents just did what they wanted--move in with a new guy?  Ok. Never mind that he was an alcoholic, or hated kids, if mom wanted to live with him, so be it.  Thankfully, that seems to have come to an end (at least in my circles)--I know that when I was thinking about divorce I very carefully considered my kid's feelings.  And when I started dating again?  You best believe that he didn't meet the guy until it was fairly serious.  And if my son didn't like Xing Fu?  Probably a deal-breaker (Glad I don't need to even think about that--they have a great relationship).  I think a lot of this parent concern has come from the over-protective trend--sorta the plus side of it--twisted, but it is a positive outcome. 

Yup, this parent behavior just makes me cringe--especially around the holidays--so my statement to this woman?  Lady, you are doing your kid a huge disservice.  Teach him that when you are successful at your job as an adult, you usually get recognized by the boss by giving you more work.  There are no gold stars for farting in the real world.

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