By: D. A. Slinkard
I grew up in small-town America where if you were a loser, you knew it. It was in a time period on the cusp of handing out trophies for no apparent reason other than being afraid someone might have their feelings hurt. I grew up playing sports, and I remember watching in agony as the other team received their trophy for being the best of the best! I remember being envious of the trophy they would be taking home as I left empty-handed. This feeling of missing out made me want to work that much harder in the offseason to train and improve my own skillset. Yet, we live in a society today that is quick to hand out participation awards…so no one gets their feelings hurt.
We are teaching kids today that just showing up and not being the best is worthy enough to receive a piece of paper telling how great you were because you participated. I do not know whether to chuckle or maniacally cry when I think about the future generations of weak sissies we are raising. We are teaching our boys to be more feminine and teaching our girls to be more masculine. We are teaching boys that masculinity is a bad trait to have while applauding masculinity in girls. We are teaching girls that femininity is a bad trait to have while applauding femininity in boys. We have hijacked the mentality which made the United States of America the greatest country known to man.
We need to understand that life will not always be easy, and we will not always get our way. Participation trophies are for losers, and we need to teach our kids that losing is not fun. To achieve success in life, every child on the face of the planet needs to be taught that they will need to work hard for the success they want. No one is going to just give them their dream home, their dream car, etc.; yet too many parents are teaching their kids not to worry about the messes they (the kids) make because their parents will clean it up for them.
We are teaching these kids that no matter the outcome, they are winners in life, when in reality they are far from winning at times. I am all about positive thinking, but we have many people who are beyond positive, and they have become delusional by making everyone feel more like winners and less like losers. These children who go about life thinking they are winners will eventually have to face the harsh reality that they need to give more effort if they are going to achieve success. Instead of increasing their actions, they buckle because they do not know how to handle the pressures of life. Their entire life they have been lied to because people told them they were winners when in fact, they were losers.
How do we overcome this? We must first start being honest with ourselves and our children. We can no longer lie to our loved ones and pretend they are doing a good job when in actuality they are not measuring up. We are too worried about hurting their feelings when all we are doing is prolonging the hurt until they are older, and life smacks them right in the face.
What is the world going to be like in the next fifteen to twenty years when these participation award recipients find out that life does not give out imaginary awards for lackluster results? We have to instill competitiveness in our children and our grandchildren. We cannot wait. They need to be taught to be self-motivating; goal-oriented individuals who are able to self-sustain for their own good. Parents, please allow your children to learn from youthful mistakes; you do not always have to swoop in to save the day for them. Believe me, if you keep doing it, then your children are going to continue to rely on you well past the age you intended.
I write this article because we need to work on the mindset of tomorrow’s leaders. A failure to do so not only hinders ourselves but more importantly limits the ability of our children to become great leaders. People complain about the direction we are headed, but who is to blame? We enable this destructive behavior when we should be teaching our youth that participating does not make you worthy of a trophy, no matter how special you think you should feel.
By: D. A. Slinkard
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