Creating a Perfect World for Kids in an Imperfect World
Do you know people who are trying to create a perfect environment for their children? Are they more concerned about getting the world to adjust to their kids than they are about helping their kids learn to cope with, and deal with the world, as it exists today?
Despite the efforts of many to create a perfect world where no one will ever experience hardship, where bad decisions will have limited consequences, where good outcomes are guaranteed regardless of effort and sacrifice, and where kids never have less than other kids, our kids still live in a world that requires effort and resilience.
Our love for our kids tempts us to do all we can to make their childhood better than ours. It tempts us to try to eliminate disappointment, struggle, and inconvenience from their lives. Each day we need to ask ourselves: “Whose needs are being met when we attempt to guarantee that our kids are never disappointed, never get less than an A grade, never have to struggle, never take risks, never fail, and never have less than the neighbor kid?”
Is it our job to make the world adjust to our kids, or is our job to help our kids develop resilience so that they can fit into a world they’re going to face? For example, should we do our best to shelter our kids from the current economic woes the world is facing?
Our current economic environment poses a challenge for most families, requiring parents to be careful with the family budget. However, many parents continue to scrape together enough cash to finance their children’s expensive extracurricular activities, sports, and hobbies.
At first glance, this behavior seems heroic. In fact, we view this as an attribute of helicopter parents, who are always rescuing their kids and protecting them from the real world. They sacrifice their own wants and needs to maintain a high standard of living for their children, which might not be such a good idea. Let’s consider some messages this sends to kids:
- You are more important than other people.
- Your wants and needs should come before the wants and needs of others.
- When money is tight, there’s no need to adjust one’s expectations or lifestyle.
- The real world works the same for everybody except for you.
Trying to create perfect environments for our children is about as successful as creating perfect children. In our eyes, these are impossible goals. Turning the current economic adversity to advantage, we can teach our kids how to respond to challenging times instead of sheltering them from the world as it exists.
It takes great courage to be a parent and let kids learn through their mistakes and adversity.
Charles and Jim Fay