Miley Cyrus is at it again, gaining attention the same way she always has– by any means necessary.
This time she’s exposing herself and smoking cannabis while appearing on MTV (yes it’s still a network). Her rote antics failing to incense anyone anymore so she’ll no doubt move on to worse, dragging chronic enabler MTV with her on a search for relevance.
Then there’s Adrian Peterson. Vindicated by the news that he only “kind of” beat his kid, he’s back for another season. This year making a splash via a feature article in ESPN the magazine. The piece revealing what I think we already knew—AP is a tone-deaf imbecile.
The article recounts how he is more concerned with throwing his own birthday party than fathering his six kids that are scattered at homes across the country. Correction, I should say his “at least” six kids. We can’t be sure because we only know of the six.
Why this parade through the society pages you ask?
Because both are in many ways predictable. It turns out the Chinese warned us about this centuries ago. You know the Chinese, they who supposedly gave us the curse “may you lived in interesting times”.
While “interesting times” is apocryphal, the Chinese did enunciate Three Great Misfortunes in Life— giving a voice to the curses to be avoided at all costs. So what did they go with? Cancer? Drugs? Halitosis?
Negative, they went the other directions.
- Success when you are young
- Sudden Wealth
- Being born into money
And looking at our “successful” friends like Miley and AP, how can we disagree? Both have two of the three and both are tone deaf, failing at life and no doubt secretly miserable. Think about that– fame, success and money. The things most kids want, are a recipe for disaster.
Our celebrity culture is disturbing on many levels, but perhaps it can teach parents a lesson and help us tackle that first curse. “Success when you are young” doesn’t have to mean a 4.3 forty and a contract with Nike. Nor does it necessarily mean a hit TV show on Disney Channel.
It could simply mean a world that’s too easy.
The lack of strength built through perseverance because everything was handed to you… Parents who enable and worship their kids rather than discipline… A lack of structure and boundaries… Insulation from failure and critique.
All on our own we’ve manufactured that first curse. Perception is reality. If our children perceive great success, they may already be on the wrong path and ill-equipped to accept failure or rebuke when it comes– that is the real danger here.
Your kid frequently needs a pat on the back and an encouraging word. These are important, but don’t forget they also need the occasional kick in the ass. One that’s figurative of course (stand down Adrian), but one nonetheless. Without any challenge our kids grow up thinking that the world revolves around them—because it always has.
You know who didn’t have success early? Michael Jordan. He failed miserably. And from it he learned perseverance, grit and determination. Along they way he also picked up the world’s biggest chip on his shoulder –one that fueled his career and life.
Am I advocating spite as a growth strategy? No…errr maybe?
What I am saying is that our job as parents isn’t to cheerlead our kids. It isn’t to be friends with our kids. It is first and foremost to love them, and secondly to give them the tools they need to succeed in life. Participation trophies and report cards with non-grades are doing the opposite.
Perseverance, grit and growth– are missing in children because they’ve been stripped from our childhood. We need to actively seek strategies to build these characteristics the next generation. As parents we want the best for our kids, we just desperately need to resist the urge to give it to them.