By Tank Hoover
When I finished kindergarten at the ripe old age of five I didn’t get a certificate or graduation party. Such things were unheard of back then. Instead, I got something better. Much better! Mom sent me to my grandparent’s farm in south central PA for a week. It was a tradition following me through grade school and one I enjoyed — and still appreciate today.
I had room to roam, time to be tastefully teased by my uncles, and learn about the farm. These yearly visits made me grow to learn and appreciate the country way of life and how things worked on the farm. My Pap operated a dairy farm my uncles eventually took over, and now my cousin runs.
Grandma had me pull my weight during my visit by gathering the eggs every morning. Not chore to me, I considered it fun. I learned about the chickens, and a really great life lesson, I think. Grandma had a separate pen for breeding chickens to keep the number of laying chickens and eatin’ chickens in check. She told me I was lucky, because some of the eggs were due to hatch in the next few days. I was excited to see some chicks hatch out and checked on the eggs every morning.
Here’s the interesting part. Grandma told me when the chicks started pecking through their shells, not to help them! She said the chicks needed the struggle and effort to stimulate and strengthen their heart, lungs and muscles. She went on to tell me when she was a little girl, she helped some chicks break free. This seeming act of kindness was actually detrimental to the chicks. She said every one she helped, died.
I found the story both sad and interesting at the same time, but it stuck with me.
As parents today, most people have no problem saying “no” to their toddler when they are about to stick something in an electrical outlet, put something harmful in their mouth or approach a stair landing where their baby could tumble down. It’s for the baby’s own good! Attentive parents have no problem protecting their precious bundle, as should be.
Then It Gets Skewed …
But a funny thing starts to happen with most parents today. What worked so well to protect their infant by helping them to learn the meaning of “no” to keep them safe, the parents forget, or flat out refuse to say “no” now. Huh? Why’s that?
Our own parents had no problem whatsoever speaking that one simple word — “N, O, No!” It’s as simple as that. But some parents think the word leaves a sour taste in their mouth, or, God forbid, could actually scar their baby. Heck, we heard it so often, we actually figured out when it wasn’t even worth our while to ask our parents a question we already knew the answer to. Imagine that! Amazing how smart we got back then.
No is a powerful word. When someone tells you “No” all it means is that person is not willing to help you get what you want. If you really want something, you’ll rack your brain to devise a way to obtain what it is you seek. This is the path to independence and self-sufficiency. It also teaches patience, goal setting and most importantly, the feeling of obtaining something on your own that truly makes it yours.
It teaches you everything in life is not handed to you on a silver platter. Just because someone denies you does not necessarily mean they don’t like you.
Look what happens when you’re never denied. It actually takes the fun out of everything and things are taken for granted. Today we live in an instant gratification society. When we want something, we want it now! Once obtained, we usually grow bored of what it was we were originally after.
We’re losing the ability to know how it feels to work for something. Can you say entitlement? Just because we want it, doesn’t necessarily mean we will get it.
Adults are scared of disappointing children today, causing the children to become fragile people. Notice how I didn’t say adult, I said “people?” That was intentional, because too many of today’s adult-aged people are far from being adults. In fact, most are on the same age-level as most 12-year olds were from my era. No, really. Think about it yourself. Sad, but true.
Now, back to them chicks. Are you starting to see a correlation here? We don’t want today’s kids to struggle, so we break the shell for them, denying them the struggle needed to stimulate their minds and their sense of who they are! Without struggles, facing adversity and the chance to work it out on their own, they end up like marshmallow peeps. What adult likes marshmallow peeps? Today’s Peeps are artificially colored, spineless clumps of goop leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Isn’t it about time for the Peeps to crack a few eggs on their own?
Look at your own kids. Are you guilty here? Helping them too much isn’t helping them at all.
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