Why might a college professor make this statement, and all her colleagues are nodding their heads in agreement? Here are a few examples that might help us understand:

  • A college professor gives the student a barely deserved B-, saving him from a C. Instead of recognizing the need for improved effort, the student yelled at the professor, calling her biased and ill-informed about modern writing styles. He then filed a complaint against her, and had the family lawyer begin making threatening calls. She was ‘advised’ to adjust the grade.
  • Student gets a failing grade, for turning a paper in weeks late. She gets her friends and classmates to mount a social media campaign against the professor, and filling a request to have him dismissed.
  • High School Coach has athlete who shows up late, often ill-prepared and not starting material. Parent is influential, and begins smear campaign against coach. Parent never considers his child’s true skills and readiness to be worthy of starting lineup.
  • A student sits in the back, never attending to the lecture and consistently on their phone, at times chuckling and laughing. Student is dismissed from the class. Next day, student (age 25) shows up with his parents outside the professor’s door.

Do You Want Your Kids to Thrive or Stumble Through Life?

Reality is tough. Life is tough. There is much to learn, and there are certain lessons that we must experience, and learn from, before we can thrive. And somehow, we have become confused about how to help them thrive. Many of our strategies serve to keep them stumbling through life. Their expectations and habits will lead to limited happiness, little success and greatly compromised fulfillment. Let’s look at a few losing strategies.

1. Protect Children from Consequences of Their Choices

Everything matters. And every choice comes with a consequence. Good choices usually add up to better consequences and poor choices lead to more painful consequences. That’s the real world.

So, when we choose to start protecting children from their poor choices, we teach them a lie about how the world works. The world is not gentle or soft. If we show up unprepared, we lose. If we didn’t study, we fail. If we don’t work hard, we will find we don’t have a job.

We need to allow children to feel the consequences of their poor choices, as this is where the value resides. That pain, in whatever form, is the teacher from life and trying to prepare us for how the world works.

2. “You Are Not Responsible.”

When kids show little effort, party instead of studying, play video games rather than preparing…then there is a natural consequence. When athletes decide not to show up or to give limited effort (while other give full effort), again there is a consequence that comes with those choices.

When we then tell children that it’s someone else’s fault, we do harm to our children, whether age 4 or 24. When we rush to save them from a poor grade, a coach’s decision or a suspension for bad behavior, we do harm.

It is the focus on the choices of others that is at the heart of this damage. This puts the student at war with the world, thinking the world should better recognize them, or reward them, despite poor efforts or skills. This can never lead to growth. It only leads to complaints, blame and feeling like the victim

3. You Deserve It All…Even If You Don’t Give It Your All

There is a growing sense of entitlement in our youth that is noted by almost every seasoned teacher, professor, coach and employer. This entitlement belief has been ‘taught’ to our youth through giving kids everything while requiring limited effort. Whether everyone getting a trophy regardless, or removing grades to avoid feeling poorly or parents fighting with schools to make homework easier, we have been moving toward a culture where many children grow up expecting great rewards, but giving little effort.

This serves no one.

In the real world, you don’t get the good jobs this way. You don’t get the great family this way. You don’t even get the house you want.

And none of that really matters because… what you really end up with is misery. And no one wants misery!

The false expectations of deserving more while never seeming to get there is torture. There is an endless stream of disappointments, as the false formula for getting happiness and success is failing.

So yes. I do agree. Sometimes we should get a slap from the professor. In the end, we should trust reality and not protect our children from these critical early lessons. They will get stronger if we don’t. And they will learn (when we support them) to put forth more effort and to value the returns on that effort.

Reality is your friend. Prepare your children for living sweetly with that friend.