I used to hate it when my mother said that to me. But not only is it true, it is an important lesson to learn.
We, as Americans, seem to have this mistaken idea that fairness is some kind of right. It’s not. In fact, bad things happen to good people all the time. Sure, that bitch we call Karma will eventually even the score, but in the here and now there are tons of instances where her sister Life sticks her foot out to trip us up.
Most of the time when “unfair” things happen it is our own fault. Sometimes we spend more than we should and an unexpected expense pops up that we can’t afford. Other times it is not our fault at all but I find this to be more of the exception than the rule. But I digress and that is for a different post.
Back to the point, life is full of setbacks and inconveniences. There are bullies in every stage of our life and we must be able to work around and often with them. There are things that happen to us because of poor choices that we or someone else made and we must adapt and overcome.
The successful person, the free citizen, finds solutions to problems and overcomes adversity. If we shield our children from the “unfairness” that they inevitably encounter in their youth we are denying them the tools they will need to thrive and excel as adults. So thanks, Mom, for all those moments when I hated hearing, “Life’s not fair, get over it!”
Will your child be the next great thinker?
I raised my kids to think like free people. This makes an already difficult task of parenting even harder! But the rewards are immeasurable.
If we are to have a future for humanity we must teach our children to think, to question, to explore and to rationalize…not to blindly except what is fed to them. The beginning of this is teaching how to negotiate (and what is non-negotiable). There are limits, of course. And applying those restrictions simultaneously to instilling the love of freedom is not easy! But it comes from balance between freedom and responsibility. It gives our youth the tools they need to assess situations and make educated decisions all through life.
When I was a child I was told repeatedly by my mother, “Because I said so, that’s why!” It infuriated me because all I wanted was the logic (and sometimes to get my way!) behind what she was saying I had to do or couldn’t do. I was an inquisitive child and my children were as well. I swore that I would never, NEVER say use that dreadful phrase with them…and I can only recall one instance where it slipped out of my lips, followed immediately by the thought, “Oh, my God, I am becoming my Mother!” And it never happened again. I am not saying that I didn’t make mistakes, we all do. But my kids have grown up to be pretty awesome adults so I guess some things actually went as planned.
But the purpose of this post is not so much to talk about my kids as it is to inspire others to take into consideration how they interact with their own. The mantra that children should be seen and not heard is counterproductive for a thriving society. Talking to toddlers in baby-talk teaches them to speak baby talk. Talking to them as if they were adults gives them a higher goal to strive for…after all, we learn by imitating what we are exposed to. As they get older, do you let them make their own decisions about what to wear? Do you negotiate about dinner items that may not be favorites? Do you encourage trying things that are outside of the comfort zone? Do you teach them that it is OK to win and it is also OK to lose? To never allow failure is doing children a disservice. They will not be able to cope with the inevitable setbacks in adult life and will have a stressful life as a result. If success is discouraged (ever been to a little league game where they don’t keep score?) then we are robbing the kids of their sense of pride and self worth, plus we are not teaching them how to win gracefully.
These are all skills that are vital to success in life. Negotiation is vital for getting jobs, buying necessities and maintaining relationships. If you don’t know how to negotiate then you are reduced to arguments where no one wins. Critical thinking skills are essential as well, for obvious reasons. Suppose that Patrick Henry, George Washington, Galileo, Socrates, Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein had never questioned anything? Where would we be today? Will your child be the next great thinker? Not if you don’t encourage free thought!
For one to be free they must be independent. This means being responsible for ones own well-being. Freedom is the ability to make your own choices, but also includes owning the results. Many people have an lopsided concept of freedom and want to be able to do whatever they desire without consequences. This is not reality, but is a popular attitude in today’s society.
Freedom involves thinking independently. This means taking all the available data and using it to form opinions. If you exclude facts that don’t necessarily agree with your preconceived notions then you are cheating yourself and increasing the risk that you will make good decisions. For instance, if you choose to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, you know you are taking a greater risk of head injury or death in the event of an accident. The choice is yours. The expense of medical care should be yours as well if you get hurt. Continue reading
A friend of mine has a saying that happiness is not having what you want, it is wanting what you have. Many of us think in terms of…stuff. While having material things can and does make life easier (assuming you could afford those things when you purchased them), the real secret to happiness is around us all the time. For example it could be a quiet moment with someone special or catching a glimpse of a beautiful sunset. We often take for granted the endearing moments like when our toddler breaks several dozen eggs in the kitchen floor and laughs hysterically as each one smashes.
In fact, many of the things that irritate us in day to day life become the moments we hold on to when a loved one has left this world. Sometimes we never get a chance to say the things we really mean. Sometimes we hold grudges until it is too late to let them go. And sometimes we just overlook the obvious.
I was fortunate that life showed me the real value of family and true friends. I hope that those reading this post will also take a moment, smell the roses, hug a loved one and simply…want what you have.
As a child and adolescent I spent a great deal of time trying to fit in. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was looking for validation in the eyes of others. This was, of course, unachievable. But I wanted to have friends…and to be liked by the “popular” kids. After a while, I realized that those popular kids were not what they seemed. Many of them spent their time putting down others, presumably to pump themselves up. Eventually I discovered a secret. Continue reading