DON'T BREAK IT TO ME GENTLY
If you are an overly sensitive, self-entitled individual, who suffers a meltdown when things don't go your way, I suggest you forego reading this article unless your therapist is on emergency standby.
I’m a product of suburban Americana, which at no time found me on the streets suffering for survival. Loving parents and supportive siblings raised me in the comfort of a good home, fed me nourishing home-cooked meals, and provided for my health, education, and overall well-being. Thanks to ‘Mother and Father Inc.’ I always had more than I needed.
Most importantly, my parents instilled the notion to work for what I wanted. They taught me to always try my best, and to keep pushing forward when my best wasn't good enough; never give up until I am satisfied with the results. Now, there seems a pattern of socially accepted mediocrity in the hope of sparing young children the emotional unease of failure.
The relatively new concept of young children involved in competition all being declared winners, regardless of the outcome, sparing anyone the unpleasantness of being labelled a ‘loser’ is ridiculous. Just because you failed to win doesn’t mean you are a failure. To me it teaches children they don't have to try too hard, because they will always succeed. It should come to no surprise when little Johnny needs a therapist by the time he gets to high school when he doesn't make ‘the team’…because he’s not good enough…because he has never been pushed to excel. Perhaps a better message would be, “Although you failed, it’s important you gave it your best, and you can be successful if you persevere." Offering a child the necessary lessons needed to develop the confidence and abilities to improve is a better option than simply ignoring life's difficult trials on the pretext of avoiding hurt feelings.
Some will argue the myriad acts of global violence are proof we need a bit of ‘softening’ to reduce conflict and intentional malice, providing a safer environment in which to live. Perhaps, but interspecies competition is a force of nature, and nature is neither kind, fair, or non-violent. Life’s brutality demands we are vigilant, and we cannot allow arrogance to elevate our species above other animals within our kingdom. If we are to overcome adversity and ensure the collective success of our species, we must teach our children mental toughness with acuity acquired through education and experience.
Humanity reveals threats to our physical survival with menacing individuals who prey on the weak, sick, and the disadvantaged through acts of cruelty and brute force. In association with children, many wrongly describe these tormentors as ‘bullies’, but the distinction between the childish, verbal taunts of a bully, and the flagrant acts of a criminal must remain clear; We must stop calling true acts of violence bullying!
The role of a bully is to taunt, mock, and ridicule; a longtime accepted right of passage for generations of children hoping to provoke feelings of hurt. These relatively harmless acts are meant to toughen our skins, giving us the ability to recognize outside minor threats before they become serious confrontations. With stock retaliations, we managed to navigate our way through the school house gauntlet, and emerged a little tougher as a result. Have our skins become so thin we can now barely withstand harsh words against us, or is the level of violence so great it has lessened our willingness to accept ridicule?
We have witnessed bullying amongst our youth escalate from verbal harassment to physical violence, with guns and knives replacing sticks and stones. A learned behavior, bullying manifests itself in individuals lacking proper education, respect, empathy, and consequence, with most continuing this behavior long after their days of schooling. Therefore, we must demand equal resolve to recognize and defeat those threats, passively or not. Attempts of resolution through blames of cowardice or pity are futile, and fail to recognize legitimate violence. If children are better educated from an earlier age, perhaps both ‘sides’ of society would benefit and both suffer less. We cannot eliminate conflict entirely, but preparedness lies at the heart of resolution, and recognition of a divide is one key to understanding the complexities of social interaction.
Modern technology has given us the convenience of instantaneously shared information alongside numerable means of entertainment and stimulation. The vast array of computer devices and virtual social networks diminish levels of active human discourse and tolerance. A growing reliance on electronics for constant connectivity is debilitating to both children and adults, decreasing development of the proper mannerisms needed for a social environment containing actual human beings. Parents, ever reliant on electronic devices for convenience, and a bit of peace and quiet, decrease their chances to educate an independent thinker who can raise themselves above the level of being a pack animal. Massively integrated social technologies require long periods of time before any negative consequences can be thoughtfully eliminated, but it should be obvious, artificial reality is only meant as a temporary distraction and must never replace the experience of satisfaction gained through accomplishments in the tangible world.
With certainty I can say everyone wishes to provide their children with the best possible education and support to become adults with the needed skills for independence, but In our attempts to create a more accepting environment, are we allowing society to dictate parental control in the hopes of better raising our children? Has the collective whole become so overbearing we prevent each successive generation from experiencing the true realities of natural selection, thus propagating the weaknesses we are trying to overcome?
Never having children of my own, I admit I lack complete understanding of the efforts involved in child rearing. However, it does not discredit my attempts to understand nor mean the complexities elude me. I agree it’s nice to coddle the ones we love, and lavish them with the fruits of our labors, but we must not forget the priority of preparing our offspring for survival, durability, and success.
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