Positive reinforcement. Positive psychology. Praise. Affirmation.
Popular parenting buzzwords. Drummed into us from Day One. Tell your kids how wonderful they are. Tell them they’re special, unique, can achieve anything.
But are we ultimately setting them up for a fall?
The world – the nasty, real, complicated world Out There – doesn’t really care if your mother or father thinks you’re fabulous. ‘They’ will pass judgement on you based on the current social standards of the day. And those standards shift and move, morph and change.
The kids don’t stand a chance.
So what happens when they don’t get into the course they want, don’t get the job they apply for, don’t get the life they expected?
Does it hit them harder? How do they move on from their first rejection? How do they cope when the world doesn’t work like a pass-the-parcel where every child gets a prize?
Are we doing them a disservice not to prepare them for a world that may very well chew them up and spit them out? Should we prepare them for a life that may or may not go the way they want it to?
But what would happen if we didn’t praise them? What would happen if we told them what they do is average, ordinary or even sub-standard?
What would be the impact then?
And could we even do it, as a parent?
I know I couldn’t.
All of us just wants our kids to be happy. We don’t want them to feel pain or sadness. We want them to be able to follow their dreams and make their way in the world.
It’s just that the world doesn’t seem to want to cooperate.
So, we are torn. We make our children sad as children or we set them up for sadness in adulthood.
I honestly don’t have an answer. Like every parent, I’m trying to raise my kids without an instruction manual or a crystal ball.
My instincts tell me to do all I can to make them happy now. And I just hope, if I can raise confident, positive children, that they will weather whatever storms the world throws at them.
Hope. Hope and Love. That’s all we’ve got. And keep your fingers crossed.