Joyce E. Pennington
In observing the trends of today's youth and
their parents, I have found that over the past ten years a trend has formed.
Some parents have a true 'phobia' of allowing their children to experience
disappointment or defeat in any form. Instead of scolding a small child for
doing something wrong, the parent will just "distract" the child with
a toy or treat and never correct them. If the tears ever come, the parent
becomes almost desperate to avoid the child's disappointment.
As the child is older and goes into high school
programs and activities, some parents have accelerated this method to the point
where the teachers and administrators are "always wrong" and the child
is "always right." Instead of helping the child as they are hoping to
do, the damage begins to multiply and life skills are tossed out the window. By
the time they go away to college or seek a career, and they realize they are not
in control of the situation, they are ready to quit and try something else.
have observed this exact situation when my oldest son went to the University of
Texas. His roommate was a successful student in high school as senior class
President, as well as graduating cum laude. When he arrived at UT, he was
helpless in that his mother had always done everything for him including
cooking, washing clothes and buying any necessities. After three weeks of not
waking up for classes, he cried to my son to "please throw cold water on me
to make me get up!". He had no furniture in his room and did not know how
to go out and look for it because he had never had to do anything for himself.
By the end of the semester, he had dropped out of school and went back home. The
next semester he registered at SMU and lived at home. He graduated with honors
in three years, only because his mother would wake him every morning for
classes, iron his clothes and cook for him. Even though he was a brilliant young
man, he was helpless to function without someone else's help.
As a parent, it is so difficult to see our children
disappointed. We know that we have the control to put them in a 'glass cage' and
shield them from so much. Unfortunately, we are not helping them with the life
skill values that they so desperately need. What is more valuable to our
children is learning how to cope, make adjustments and compromises. Learn how to
be a 'team player' and sacrifice so that the group does better. They need to
realize that not everything is always equal and if it is unequal, it is not
necessarily unfair. It is LIFE. I am sure that we could trace many of today's
divorces to young couples that are faced with compromise and adjustments and
have never had to experience these when they were young. Students today are
anxious to have restrictions and guidelines for their lives. It is a challenge
that they can meet and learn.
As a parent and educator, I challenge the parents
of today to re-evaluate their approach to their children NOW, before it is too
late. Help them to cope with adversity by allowing them to problem solve with
you. Teach them that not always do things always work out as planned. Encourage
them to set short term and long term goals and know that they are not always
automatically achieved. Remind them that when "God closes a door, He opens
a window." There will always be something good for everyone who is honest,
works hard and treats everyone with fairness and respect. As teachers and
educators, we need to emphasize these same values to our students and try not to
make them 'robots' who cannot make their own wise decisions. These are the
values that will make it a better world for all.