I have reference Tim Elmore in previous posts, and I have shared my thoughts about both parenting and the development of resiliency or grit among young people. This is a topic that I continue to dig into as in my opinion there may be no issue more important from an educational perspective. As parents, many of us are suffocating and debilitating our kids through good intentions and what I believe is a warped perspective. We want what is best for our children, but in my opinion, we drank from the wrong glass of Kool-Aide. The whole self-esteem movement has ended up crippling a generation of young people who lack the ability to fend for themselves, pick themselves up when they fall down, and tackle problems that they cannot resolve in short order. Kathy Caprino, a contributor to Forbes, shares her perspective on the topic along with Elmore's in this article from last month.
7 Crippling Parental Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders
Monday, February 17, 2014
Thursday, February 6, 2014
I got into a debate with an online friend after a Nebraska football game that on the surface may appear to be about vocabulary, but in reality goes much deeper than that. First off, I am a loyal member of a community of Big Red football fans that watch our beloved team play on television and communicate through an online thread, chatting about the game. Yeah, it is kind of nerdy, and yeah, I could probably do things a lot more productive than chat on my computer with other folks, only a couple that I know face-to-face. But I enjoy it and it keeps me connected to my alma mater’s football team, and gives me a chance to “hang out” with friends that love the Cornhuskers as much as I do.
Okay, so what was that debate? What it really comes down to is the use of the word “we.” I do not use the word “we” when my favorite football team wins. I am not part of the team. I do not practice with the team. I do not sweat with the team. I do not coach the team. I watch the team. I do not own the team. I do not contribute large sums of money to the team. I watch the team. I wear red clothes with the team’s name on it. I have a cap with an “N” on it. But, I am not on the team. The same is true for any fan. So, when I hear a fan say “we kicked your butt” or “we’re number 1!” it gives me pause because those making the statement generally did nothing to earn the right to make the statement! There are people that is seems live so vicariously through their favorite team that they honestly believe they have a stake in the teams success! I find that incredible!
This manifests itself in a couple of ways that I find interesting. First of all, in our society we place a very high value on being a winner, and if you cannot distinguish yourself as a winner by your actions or accomplishments, people will “hitch a ride” with one so that they can proclaim themselves a winner. I have been fortunate to be at a number of national championship events, including the football game a few years back at the Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Miami. When it was over, you would have thought that all of those Buckeye fans were out there on the field playing the game! The fact that it has been a number of years since Nebraska has won a conference championship has had an impact on the psyche of Big Red fans. I believe that the reason many of them are so critical of their coach, who by the way, has won a minimum of nine games since he took over, is because they can’t strut around like roosters with their chest pumped out feeling good about themselves. They want to be able to brag to fans of other teams that their team is best, kind of like that childhood argument of “my dad can beat up your dad!” The fans want to be viewed as winners!
The other part of this that intrigues me is that fans believe that their opinion should matter. I got news, unless you own the team, fund the team, or are a member of the team, you’re opinion really doesn’t matter! I understand the role of boosters, but the reality is that unless we are talking about professional ones, teams are part of an institution and answer to the people in charge of the institution. It is part of a community, but it is not the community. However, those of us on the edge or the periphery need to be careful of putting ourselves too close to the group that did the work! In our case at NFVHS, I didn’t see too many 40-somethings out there on the football field this year!
Perhaps more concerning to me on this whole “we” thing is the parent that lives vicariously through their child. I could go on and on with this and actually get quite nasty. Generally speaking, those parents that do this are frustrated former student-athletes that were never as good as they thought they were. The most common indicator is when talking about their child they use the term “we.” “We” think “we” have a good chance to beat Joe Schmo. “We” are looking forward to taking on Billy Bruiser. “We” think there’s a good chance to get to state. “We’re” working real hard on improving our swing. The parent is so wrapped up in the pursuits of their child that they are living vicariously through them! And you can often seem them on the sidelines emotionally and sometimes physically invested in their child’s performance far beyond what is normal. They fail to see the reality that it is not “we” but rather “he” or “she.”