This decision is the same one our kids make as they graduate from college.
Which brings me to a trend I have noticed lately on the internet. This is the season for graduation commencement addresses to be given all across the land. Colleges are promoting their students to the next level in life and to do so bring in a variety of speakers to do the task of inspiring them for their future endeavors. What I have noticed is a increase in commencement "truth telling" that we have not seen before. We hear less of the "you are special", "you can do it", "you are the bright stars of our future we have been waiting for.." and more from truth-tellers are willing to stand up to their podiums and pronounce the hard facts to the youth robed and sitting in front of them. They tell them things like:
- You are not special
- Life is hard
- You will fail
- Life is more than awards
- You need to work hard to get anywhere
Now we delude ourselves into thinking that a 20 minute sermon from a Hollywood star or a multimillionaire will undo all those years of damage? To me, that's like you weighing 400 lbs from spending your whole life eating nothing but McDonald's fast food and you think eating a couple of celery sticks is going to slim you down to a normal weight. But that is our mode of operation here in America these days. That's life in the Delusional States of America where we think a motivational speaker can change everything if we pay them enough money.
Your kids have a long hard row to hoe and many of them are picking up their hoe now for the first time in their life. They will get blisters on their hands and their arms and backs will hurt. Many will give up and come back to your nests because the worlds is too painful for them. My hope for them (and you) is that you don't "rinse and repeat" the same mistakes. My son came back for a couple of years too (I have written about it before) but he realized how much harder the world is and that he needed that slap of reality to wake him up. He has worked very hard to change himself and make a life for himself. He faced his mistakes and bad decisions. He has surrounded himself with like-minded people who want to travel that "road less taken" to make something of themselves and has since ventured back out on his own to take on new challenges. He knows he will fall down again at some point. He knows that both failure and success are in his future and he needs to work through those failures when they come.
For those of you whose kids are still in elementary school there is still time to change course. You can be your own child's "truth-teller" and "inspirational speaker" if you want to. Maybe it starts with you telling your soccer coach that they won't be going to the award pizza party (or at least they don't need a plastic participation trophy). Maybe it's not rewarding your kids for getting B's when they could get A's. Maybe it's simplifying their birthday parties and keeping them simple (even just within the immediate family). Or it is talking about your failures and not just your successes to them so they know that you didn't always have it so easy. Whatever the case, don't wait for their college or high school graduation to come for unlike "The Truman Show" there might not be so happy of an ending for them.