I’ve been noticing a trend in recent years, but I’ve only complained to my mom about it. I’ve been feeling led to say something publicly for quite some time now, but it seems everyone else is starting to notice, too. Recent happenings have brought to light just how bad this problem has been allowed to get. You may or may not agree with me, but I am a “call it as I see it” kind of gal.
We’ve been doing our children a great disservice. We’ve allowed them to think that they are “special”, above all others. If others are afraid to say it, then let me be the first, “You’re really not that special!” With that being said, don’t think I’m some kind of monster. I promise, I’m an empathetic person who wouldn’t hurt a fly – ask anyone who truly knows me.
Here’s what I really mean. By all means, your children should be the center of your world, second only to God and your spouse. They’re also going to weigh in super high on their grandparent’s scale. Their aunts and uncles? Sure they’ll be way up there. I even have a very few, very close friends who I have no doubt would drop everything if my children truly needed them. Let me reiterate, in case you didn’t get it, I have like TWO friends that my children are special to. That’s it. Period.
Other people in your child’s life are going to be fond of them. Some kids catch the heart of their teacher and remain special for a time. Some kids are special to their soccer coach when they’re the star player or if they are their own team’s biggest cheerleader. Some people hold special places in our lives for just a short time and that’s where it ends. Sound rude. I’m sorry if it does, but it’s the truth. That doesn’t mean you aren’t kind and supportive of that person in the future. That doesn’t mean you forget they existed. You simply don’t hold quite the spot for them that you used to because you have other people who have occupied those spots. More than likely your own kids and extended family.
I think my main goal for writing this post is to point out that acting like you’re above the rules or allowing your child to do so doesn’t really get you anywhere. It makes you stand out alright, but not in a good way. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean – one bad, one good.
In my first example, I saw a lady in the grocery store a year or so ago. She had a pretty full cart which also contained her 3-4 year old daughter. Woman and child both looked like a million bucks (side note here: People, you’re lucky if I brush my hair to go to the grocery, but that’s just me.) Anyway, the little girl started whining that she wanted to be done with shopping, so this lady apparently found herself too special to stand in line behind the few people. She promptly said to her little girl, “We’ll take care of this!” and went to a closed register and started placing her groceries on the belt of said register. A young girl that was bagging groceries approached her and said, “Ma’am, this lane isn’t open” to which the lady barked, “It is now!” The worker, not knowing what she should do, went to the service desk and someone there promptly rounded someone up and opened the lane. So, the lady did indeed get her way and benefit from this, but what did everyone around her in the store think? You could see it on our faces. The biggest point here is that I can’t imagine how she’s going to handle her little mini monster in a few years. Having teenagers is hard enough when you haven’t allowed them to be “special” in the first place. They need to know that if there’s a line, they need to stand in it to wait their turn just like everyone else.
My second example happened just a few weeks ago. I was attending my son’s final soccer game of the season. We’re talking a 1st and 2nd grade team. It was really not a huge game and about as run of the mill as a children’s soccer game can get. Around the start of the game, I noticed someone in the small crowd who could possibly tout themselves as being a bit “special.” My tiny little home town has recently turned out a young man who happens to have fulfilled his dream of becoming a pitcher for Major League Baseball. Many young men of this stature would come in with their pen in hand, ready for all the autographs they knows they’re going to be asked for. He simply walked in and greeted his family and proceeded to play catch with a few young boys, back behind the crowd. These boys may have been part of his family or they may not have. If any other little boys had come up, he would have graciously allowed them to play, too. Did he sign any autographs that day, I have no idea because if he did, he didn’t make a big deal about it. Nate is a humble young man and I’m pretty sure he would have waited in line behind those people at the grocery store that day, too. The biggest point in this story, the young people surrounding him that day saw a normal guy. Not someone “special” who demanded to be treated that way. Do I think that such a role model could have had a positive influence on those young boys? You bet, and they probably won’t know it until they’re adults.
It’s time to stop rewarding mediocrity, but especially, it’s time to stop rewarding entitlement. You aren’t entitled to ANYTHING you didn’t earn and some even need to evaluate what exactly it is that they’ve even accomplished.
For the record, my son’s soccer team came in 2nd for the season and 3rd in the tournament (out of 4 teams). We didn’t bring each kid a snack at every game and none of our kids got trophies (not sure about the 1st place team because we didn’t have a catered banquet to celebrate the season, either). Our team met with the coach after the last game, at a local restaurant to get an ice cream cone for a good effort during the season. Do I think their psyches are screwed up because they didn’t get a trophy? Nope. I think they’ll be better people for not getting one.
2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.