Do you ever feel like you're drowning in an ocean of flattery? It seems to me that this generation of parents has almost lost the ability to be honest with their children...and maybe themselves.
Don't get me wrong. I am not at all suggesting that we go back to the time where kids were almost regarded as non-people. Expected to be seen and not heard. Never given a chance to voice their opinions. Always told they couldn't do it. They weren't good enough. They didn't measure up. No, those were bad times and many adults have the therapy bills to prove it.
I must wonder if it is not equally as damaging to let children believe that they have arrived at a place in life that they haven't? Why do we, for instance, give ribbons and awards to everyone who participates in anything? Why is it considered unhealthy and damaging to reward those who do their best? To reward the winners? Why can we barely admit that some people are just better at certain things than other people?
I just don't think our kids are that weak, or let's be honest, that dumb. They know when they're not doing something as well as they can or as well as another person. Do we look ridiculous when we try to convince them that they are? I think maybe we do. Not to mention, what does it set them up for in their future? Come on, you've seen all those people on American Idol who think they can sing and they CAN'T. Who is responsible for letting them think that they had any business auditioning for those judges? And here's the kicker, do you think it was good for them to get up and humiliate themselves like that? On national television?? I don't really think it was.
I have a confession to make. I really try to shoot straight with my kids about stuff like this. When they, for example, ask me if I think they're a good singer and I don't think they are; I just say "no, I don't really think you're great at that."
But, here's what I don't mean when I say that. I don't mean, "No, you stink at everything you try." I don't mean, "Because you can't sing, you'll probably wind up working at McDonald's for the rest of your life." I don't mean, "Because you're not the next Lady Gaga, I don't love you." No, no. I just mean, "That doesn't seem to be a talent of yours."
But, here's what I believe, about each of my own children and about every child on the planet:
You are amazing. You won't be good at everything, but there are things you will be good at. You are unique. You are valuable. You should pursue the things you love and that is how you will find out what you are good at and how you will leave your mark in this world. You have a lot to offer. But, even if you are talented, you will have to work hard. Things won't just be handed to you because you breathe air. And finally,
When I am honest with you, that is how you know I love you.