Parenting 101 - Your daily dose of RAH

@Nebuloso (179)
United States
April 18, 2007 11:32am CST
One author who has had a huge influence on me has been Robert A. Heinlein. There is a quote from one of his books that I think is interesting and I'd like to share: "Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy." How much of today's problems with the younger generation come from ignoring this advice? Some examples of what I'm talking about: It used to be that 1st place, probably 2nd place, and sometimes 3rd place would get a trophy. Now, everyone who even bothers to show up receives trophies. Doesn't this just teach kids that putting forth any sort of effort is really irrelevant? Liberal grading policies have gotten to the point that many local school districts are getting away from the traditional 4.0 grading scale. Since getting an A (and therefore a 4.0 average or close to it) isn't much of a challenge anymore, some local school districts have started giving kids in honors classes 5 points for getting an A. This of course wreaks havoc later on when these kids start applying to college. Wouldn't a better solution be to simply toughen grading standards? I could come up with more examples, but I thought I'd throw it open for discussion. ARE we giving our kids a much easier ride than we had growing up? Is this necessarily a bad thing? Please feel free to chime in with your own examples - on either side of the discussion! Perhaps more interestingly...if you do agree that we're being much easier on our kids than our parents were on us...why do you think this is so? What are the underlying reasons? I have my theories, but I'd really like to hear others' opinions on this topic.
3 responses
@wachit14 (3600)
• United States
18 Apr 07
I agree with some of what is said here. However, I think the emphasis is being taken off of losing and just trying your best, which is really a better reinforcement for kids. Otherwise, I have to agree that children are treated more gingerly now than we were growing up. I think discipline got mixed up with punishment and many parents don't do either, which will have a negative outcome in the long run.
@Nebuloso (179)
• United States
18 Apr 07
First of all, thanks for responding! I'm not disagreeing with what you're saying, but I have to ask... Whatever happened to accomplishment being its own reward? I've never been what you would call artistically gifted. By that, I mean I suck. lol Sometimes, I make drawing of stick figures and people can't figure out what they are. As a child though, we always had art projects and often, they were for little competetions. I never won first place. I never even got an honorable mention. Yet somehow, I didn't lose all my self-esteem, get moody, and go shoot up the school. Why is this? Because when I brought it home, my mom would take a look at it and tell me how much SHE loved it and how she could tell that I worked very hard at it. Through this, I learned three very important lessons: 1) I wasn't going to be the best at everything I put my hand to 2) The effort WAS important and WAS appreciated 3) It's important to have people in your life that will appreciate your efforts All in all, not bad lessons to learn and carry with you in life.
@kamalila (193)
• United States
19 Apr 07
I'm not sure how we disagree on this, if at all. My children are always rewarded in some way for their efforts. They are disciplined if they need it. I lean on reward, and discipline seldom. This does not mean some kind of gift, or money, or anything like that. I give them my time, listen to their stories of their days. I encourage them to try, even if they aren't good at it. They all love to read. How do I reward them? They have lots of books to read. One still collects rocks. I introduced her to a geologist I know. It isn't just the rewards, it is helping them to strive for their goals, but knowing that they will encounter obstacles.
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@miamilady (4924)
• United States
21 Apr 07
One thing you'll find out about me quickly is that I can't help but try to see all points of view on any given topic. I'm not sure if it's my nature to be contrary or open minded. I'm going to break down my reply since you brought up a few examples... Regarding the trophies. My children are active in sports, so I've heard that complaint/question/argument about trophies. I hear what your saying but perhaps they've begun rewarding everyone as a form of positive reinforcement. What's wrong with commending the kids simply for coming out and trying? How many kids don't come out? How many kids just stay home and play video games? I understand the quote and I do agree with it on some levels. I do think that if you give a child everything and do not teach them that you need to earn certain things, you will handicap them. People do need to earn their way in this world. If a child isn't taught that, they will be in for a rude awakening when their parents aren't there in the future. As far as the grading system? lol Don't get me started on the school system! Actually, right now I'm frustrated with the school system. I've had issues with my own child but I also think that's its next to impossible to accomadate the huge range of children that go through the system. Again, I think expanding the grading scale is a way to include and credit the wide range of students going through the system. The fact is, we do have overachievers and we do have kids who are more challenged. I don't think that giving a child good grades when they haven't earned them is a good thing, but I also don't thing that degrading a child and making them feel like a failure when they are struggling is the answer either. Did I get off topic? If I did I'm sorry. I just happen to have children on both sides of the spectrum. It's hard to watch a child get down on himself when he can't live up to his teachers expectations and think of himself as stupid. You can teach a child to figure things out for themselves and to earn things but sometimes I do think its okay to give them a helping hand. I think everyone needs that from time to time. Also, I think oftentimes parents give their children to much to make up for what they may have been lacking in their own childhoods.
@kamalila (193)
• United States
18 Apr 07
Oh, what a can of worms... I have three kids. The elder two have chores. Not much. Feed the dog, do the dishes every night (using a dishwasher, even). Every other day they take out the kitchen compost bucket to the compost heap. Keep their own room clean. Occassionally help clean parts of the house. Naturally, they complain endlessly about it, say they don't have time for homework, that sort of thing. But they are required to do these things anyway. In the summer they will have more, as they will have an area of responsibility in the garden as well. Despite their arguments, I believe that having these chores are very important to their development. They do need to be able to do these things on their own. Now's the time to learn. I encourage them to work out any problems on their own, though I certainly help if the problem is beyond them. "Come on, use your brain for more than homework," is often heard in my house. They get great grades... I also discipline ("punish" if you want) my children. Usually it is a taking away a priviledge, like watching television or playing on the XBox. On very rare occassions it entails a physical reinforcement. By rare, I mean the last one was about two years ago. The children know that we WILL administer a spanking if warranted. They also know that they'd have to do something pretty bad to warrant a spanking. As a result, I have fairly well disciplined children. They are able to manage their time, do well in school, and still have time for fun. I'm hoping this will carry over when they are no longer protected by me or my husband. That day will come. I want them to be prepared. Too many children today, who do not know any hardship, or work, or discipline, have no coping skills when they get out on their own. To quote Bill Gates, "Life isn't fair, get used to it." I want my children to understand that and deal with it in a possitive way. They won't if they don't get a little of the unfair ("I don't care if you did it yesterday. You are doing it now.") while young.
@Nebuloso (179)
• United States
18 Apr 07
Your parenting style sounds a lot like mine - and the one I grew up with. Kids are ALWAYS going to complain about their chores. I did it, you probably did it, too. I still complain about doing them! lol So long as they get done and get done correctly, my kids can complain all they want. They have just as much right to speak their mind as anyone else. ;) As for corporal punishment, I agree with you on that as well. Spankings were always a rare event in our house and usually only came when one of the kids persisted in doing something that might cause them to really hurt themselves. My youngest is almost 9 now and there probably hasn't been a spanking in our house for 3 or 4 years, but I think both our kids (my daughter is 15) strongly suspect that they could resume if necessary! lol I couldn't agree more with your last statement. Another of the frequent complaints I hear is this refrain of "It's not fair!" from young students. Whenever I get one of those, I challenge them to find somewhere in the Constitution where there is a guarantee that life will be fair. So far, no one's met that challenge. ;)
@kamalila (193)
• United States
19 Apr 07
Oh, that's good. I haven't tried the Constitution angle yet. The cries of "that's not fair" stopped long ago. They know I try to be fair, but that sometimes I'll just go with what is faster, or just works. For instance, the girls take turns with the dishes or the dog. On odd nights, the eldest has the dishes, the younger has the dog. On even nights, opposite. Why did I do that? So I didn't have to deal with, "You were gone last night, so it's YOUR turn." and the ensuing argument. Regardless of what happenned the night before, your chore depended on what number was on the calender. Where is it not fair? More than half of the months have odd number of days. That means the eldest has to do dishes two nights in a row. Ah, shucks, that's the breaks. When you're on your own, you'll have them every night.
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