Vicious Cycle

PinewoodDerbyIn any endeavor it’s good to be clear about the true objective. The best objective.

If you sell your kid’s Girl Scout Cookies at work in a misguided attempt to raise money for the troop, you are missing the point. It undermines the very reason for the exercise, and you’d probably raise more money if you did some freelance work instead. Access to cookies isn’t the point, teaching the Scouts to be confident salespeople is.

What is the purpose of the Pinewood Derby, and why do so many dads build the cars for their kids? How many parents get too involved in the school science experiment out of the all too palpable discomfort of facing the struggle, and even potential failure, of the kid?

Kids are all too willing to take the back seat, and let the adult drive…which is the opposite of the desired effect. For the most part the kid doesn’t even care about winning. They just want to make it through without standing out too much or feeling too different from the other kids.

I am in no way suggesting that parents shouldn’t be involved in these things. They absolutely should. A big part of it is the win of having parent and child working together toward an outcome. Priceless. But when the parent takes over, or guides too forcefully the young person is robbed of the best part of the experience. Instead it is communicated that ‘you’re not doing it right (not good enough)’ or the goal is to win, whatever it takes.

Worse things have happened to kids, but it’s a shame when the young person loses interest in something that can be such a character builder because the parent doesn’t muster the skill to guide and assist in a way that builds…which gets us to the hard part. It’s not that most parents really want to take over these projects. It’s because they lack the skill to get and keep their kids engaged in the first place, so they feel they have to…in order to protect them from…themselves?

It’s a vicious cycle.


2 Responses to “Vicious Cycle”

  1. 1 babicka April 22, 2014 at 10:51 am

    As a veteran of more “parent projects” than I care to remember, it is a difficult balance to maintain. How do you help a child learn skills – selling girl scout cookies; completing the science project and worse preparing the presentation; playing little league – without overwhelming the child’s skills but helping the child stay competitive with peers? A very delicate balance. We all know the mom that takes the girl scout cookie ordering form to work and sells more than anyone else – maybe just no other competition at her work place. We also know the little league dad, or worse t’ball dad, who screams at his child until every other parent is embarrassed. Then we see and read of child prodigies – the child who performs with the orchestra, the next Tiger Woods – and wonder as a parent if we failed the child by not insisting that they compete or practice. Did we allow the child to “give up” too soon? What do you do when you learn of a “parent project” the night before it is due? Allow the child to go to school the next day with nothing? Probably the right option to teach responsibility and planning. But, your want your child to avoid the pit of “being different” or disappointing to the point that it impacts how they feel about themselves when faced with all the other parents projects clearly managed by the parent(s).

  1. 1 Winning | Just a job to do Trackback on June 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm

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