The Olympics are over for this year and as I watched the closing ceremonies last night, I noticed something. Not one athlete was given a “participation medal.” In light of the recent debate over what seems to be wrong with our world that causes mentally ill people to shoot others. That statement seems to explain the issue in and of itself. But, stay with me here. By giving kids “participation medals/trophies” what do you think we are teaching our kids? I don’t know about you, but I have never received a raise at work for showing up. While I understand why this started happening, I really think that it gives kids false images of life. Life is tough and it doesn’t give out participation awards. Life is also not fair. The sooner kids learn this the better prepared for real life they will be.

There are many life lessons that my kids learned growing up, including that one above.  They learned to be good at a sport and not just participate. All three of my kids played basketball and baseball/softball. They received trophies because they participated but they didn’t mean as much as earning their letter jackets and patches to go on those jackets.When they went to the state playoffs, they received t-shirts announcing the fact they were in the playoffs. They had earned the right to be in the playoffs. They may not have won the state championship but they knew they had earned the right to be in them. That is what makes kids feel proud of their accomplishments. Merely participating isn’t what earned them those shirts. It was practice that made them better at the game so they earned the right to be in the playoffs.

Kids today seem to have that expectation that they are rewarded for just showing up. Sorry, that’s not doing them any favors. Back after the depression, many parents raised their kids with a strong work ethic so they could survive financial difficulties. I daresay many parents today don’t teach that same work ethic. Because from the time those same kids could point at a toy on a tv commercial, parents gave in to temper tantrums and spend everyday working just to give their kids everything they want and that they may not have had. You know what this does? Raises a generation of people who expect that their every desire will be granted. That just isn’t how life really works and so therefore, those kids have little preparation for when real life happens. Many of those young adults have gotten in to the real world with the expectation that their employer is lucky to have them and should kowtow to what they want. To say parents are doing their kids a disservice is an understatement. Because this is not only going to affect the kids, but also the rest of us who have to work beside said kids with their attitude problems, lack of respect for those who work hard and generally spoiled brat tendencies.

I think as a society we need to stop rewarding mediocre efforts with participation awards. I believe children live up to or down to our expectations. I set my expectations high for my kids and you know what? They are all three successful adults. They all three make more money than I do, which is what every parent wants for their kids, to do better than they do. They all three started working in high school and have learned the value of doing so. It also taught them about feeling good about yourself. Because everything wasn’t given to them it taught them to appreciate hard work and its rewards.

That is what made our nation a great nation. The American Dream. If you work hard enough you can achieve anything. Not if you show up you will get an award.

Until next time...