By Dale Glading
I can picture in my mind’s eye the exact seat I was sitting in when Miss Metzger, my 3rd grade teacher, handed back our tests. From 1st grade on, I had been a straight A student and so, when I saw a big red F on my exam, I was stunned. Not only stunned, but crestfallen… and more than a little ashamed. I felt like I had been punched in the gut by Muhammad Ali or Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach led me to make a decision right then and there: I would pay more attention in class and study harder than ever to make sure that I never got a grade like that again. And I didn’t. One D on a quiz in 10th grade and one D on an exam as a college freshman were the closest I ever got. Ironically, they were all in math, not exactly my best subject, but I still managed to earn B’s as my final grade in all three cases.
I share that 53-year old story to make a singular point: parents should stop trying to protect their kids from failing. The taste that my first (and last) F left in my mouth was the only motivation I needed to work even harder and, as a result, to excel even more. When I graduated 6th in my high school class of 600 students, I had Miss Metzger to thank. And when I earned Summa Cum Laude honors in college, I could look back on that F in 3rd grade as what kicked my academic butt into high gear.
Sadly, too many parents are afraid of hurting Johnny’s feelings or damaging Sally’s psyche. And so, they make sure that their kids never once experience defeat or disappointment. In so doing, they create not only a bunch of spoiled brats, but also a sense of entitlement that fails to prepare their children for the real world.
Now you know why participation trophies are all the rage and why we no longer keep score in some youth sports. After all, everybody is a winner regardless of how hard (or little) they tried. Just showing up and putting on your uniform correctly makes you a winner, right?
Life has winners and losers, period. So, if you don’t like losing, find something you are good at and then apply yourself to the max.
Kamala Harris recently and ridiculously argued that equal opportunity is not enough. Our potential Vice President-Elect said that we should also strive to ensure equal outcomes for everyone.
What Ms. Harris was saying is that innate talent and hard work are irrelevant. We all have to cross the finish line together.
In other words, the woman who may soon be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office wants to dismantle the Protestant work ethic and disincentivize the risk-reward principle that made America great. Socialism, here we come!
Parents, if you want to see your child grow into a fully-functioning adult who can make a viable and valuable contribution to society, then please allow them to fall flat on their faces once in a while. There are worse fates than a skinned knee… or a bruised ego. And maybe, just maybe, the scar that remains will motivate them to not trip up the next time.
Kind of like getting an F in 3rd grade…
Dale Glading is an ordained minister and former N.J. Republican candidate for Congress.