Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good job! I Knew We'd Ace That Interview!

In addition to checking my four letter word habit, shutting down the "I get a toy every time we hit Target"expectation, I am supposed to stop praising my daughter.

At least that is the new parenting admonishment.

"Good job" is now a taboo phrase in the world of childrearing.

Apparently "good job!", "way to go!" "I knew you could do it!" and other seemingly innocuous phrases, tend to build expectations of constant commendation when used in excess.

For the toddler and school-age set.

Instead, it is recommended that I, as an astute parent [insert laugh track here], when handed the daily artwork, look my 3 1/2 year old in the eye and say ---

Not - "What a beautiful picture!"

Rather - "I see you used green in the corner. Can you tell me why you did that?"


Let me tell you from my oh so uninformed point of view that the entitled generation that is taking its first tentative steps in to the real world of jobs and rent and relationships are not hindered by the fact that their parents told them they were fantastic little beings far too regularly.

No, my money is on the fact that the parents went several steps further. Stormed in to parent-teacher conferences demanding their precious biddums get an A rather than the earned B+. That these same parents wrote their kids college application essays, and likely their resumes and cover letters.

I am sadly old enough to have managed a few of these "winners" in my professional life.

And winners they think they are too. Because we have created a culture where every kid must succeed.

Even the losing team gets a trophy.

No. They. Don't.

They lost!!

Life has winners and losers.

That is reality. At least the reality that most of us grew up with and are, frankly, the stronger for it. By denying our kids the ability to experience the natural highs and lows of life, we are creating losers. Because these kids are not going to have the tools and coping mechanisms to weather the inevitable storms that come their way when they step out from the over-extended parental shelter.

When La C makes the soccer or whatever team, I am going to whoop and holler. And when she loses the science fair or spelling bee I will hug her and tell her that's the way the cookie crumbles but she gave it her all (if that is so).

And when she gets ready to apply for college I will support her 100% and give her a nice cushion for the desk chair as she writes her essays.

"Good job" is not the culprit. And engaging in a philosophical discussion with your child about how they feel about their newly minted baseball player status is great. But a hug and a "Way to go kiddo" is also important.

It is when we take away their opportunity to fail that we create the expectation for commendation. Subvert their ability to define themselves. Deny them the rush of overcoming an obstacle.

I tell La C she is beautiful and smart, pretty much every day. I also tell her to pick up her toys, stop slurping, don't interrupt, say pardon and excuse me, far more times during the day.

Because she may be beautiful and smart (a mother's perogative to say that) but she also has to grow up and live responsibly just like everyone else.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more, though I think for me it is more based on a knee-jerk reaction to all of the books and BS being thrown at parents these days. There is something to be said for plain old fashioned parenting based on love with a big helping of loving discipline and boundary-setting on the side.