The Importance of Reality


By Ron Hindbaugh M.A.


As modern parents we tend to “protect” our children from the “real” world. This is because of our love for them, the good times we are living in which allow us to “pamper” them, and because we do not want them to “learn the hard way” like we had to learn. We try to help them reach adulthood as smoothly as possible. We do not want them to be upset, feel pain, or to suffer. But in this process we do not expose our children to the “real” world.

The “real” world is what our children eventually have to live in and somewhere along the road they need to learn to fend for themselves. The following are some rules for life that I found on the internet. They place in perspective some of the things our children need to learn as they grow.

Rule 1:  Life is not fair; get used to it.

Rule 2:  The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3:  You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car phone, until you earn both.

Rule 4:  If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Rule 5:  Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.

Rule 6:  If you mess up, it's not your parents fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7:  Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes, and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8:  Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This, of course doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9:  Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10:  Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11:  Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

A discussion on what we need to teach our children is nice but the real question I how do you help children prepare for this “real” world? Here are some ideas that you may find valuable.

·        Have faith in your child. Let them do the things they can do for themselves. Most parents have the “aren’t I a good parent syndrome.” We like to help our kids, not because the need our help, but because we like it and it makes us feel like we are “good parents.”

·        Let you kids face the tough problems when they are young. Even if they struggle a little bit, if you know they can eventually solve a problem or complete a task they are working on, don’t interfere.

·        Don’t try to convince your child that life is fair or easy. Let them know that your job is not to fight their battles or make things fair. Let them know that your job is to help them face whatever they have to face, even if it is not far or easy.

·        Give your children deadlines and keep expectations high. You may say something like, “When you get your room cleaned up feel free to join us at the dinner table. I have faith that you will not starve. Let me know when you are finished so I can have the privilege of inspecting your hard work.”

·        Limit TV. Help your kids fine tasks they can be involved in rather than TV. Maybe they can fly tie, make pot holders, carve a bar of soap, draw, sew, shovel walks, prepare a meal, play games, etc.

·        If they make a mess or break something, help them clean up or fix what they broke. Let them know that they are responsible for their own mistakes. Let them know that mistakes can provide us with challenges and an opportunity to learn.

Make a resolution to work hard at being a “shadow” parent. A shadow is just there. You can count on shadows always being there but they are not responsible for you when you can take care of yourself. Spring out of the shadows only when your children cannot do it themselves or need some advice from someone who loves them. Spring out of the shadows when the fact that you have learned some things that they may benefit from because you are farther down the path of life then they are. Help your children benefit from your experience not your ability to tell them what they should do.