03 September 2009

Learning to lose

For you few hangers-on that visit here, I may have covered this topic before. I should go back and check but actually I don't much feel like expending that kind of effort. And those of you with kids might possibly chime in with your opinion.

The Better Half has a sister with a couple of kids who can do no wrong in their parents' eyes. And they aren't bad kids-but they have a potential life-problem coming up.

When the oldest one graduated high school, TBH sent him a nice card and $600 as a graduation present. This was in late May. It's now September, and we've not heard a peep from him-as in 'Thank you, Aunt, for the card and cash.' No note, no text message, nothing. Just like he fell off the map. We know he headed off to college, because his mom (who is first to tell us when the little darlings do something wonderful) said so in an email.


Is it me, or is it too much to ask that the little ingrate say 'Thanks'?

To be fair, the kids never have thanked anyone for anything. Also, to be fair, you can't blame the sword for the actions of the hands that wield it. My guess is that there was some item omitted by the parents-the course on Basic Courtesy.

These are the same parents who belonged to a country club so their children could meet 'the right people' (my life is an episode of Keeping Up Appearances, and TBH and I are Daisy and Onslow, evidently). Seems to me a bit of time may have been expended on a) teaching some manners and b) not giving the children everything.

I've never had kids, largely because I've not grown up yet. I suspect the family line will die out with my brother and myself. Less YD Family and more oxygen for everyone else-two reasons to celebrate! Such a deal.

I have to say that I've never seen anyone, child or adult, who never had to work for anything or hear 'no' ever come to a good end. Or if they do end up OK, it's after a real rough collision with life. You get handed a car, you wreck it. Hey, no big deal, right? You're not paying for the insurance or repairs. You get handed a free ride to college, you drink and party for four years (well, most do that, paid or not. I suspect I'd have done that.). It isn't your money being pissed away. You're out of school and have no job prospects? Go live in a 2-room flat and collect money from the parents or work a two-bit job.

Part two of this is the inability of parents to let their children fail. If a person never fails, how can they learn to succeed? Little League Baseball is a perfect example-everyone has to play in a given game. Some children's sports leagues don't count wins or losses. How does one get incentive to get better at a given task or learn how to lose gracefully? And what happens when, one fine day, the child who is now an adult, doesn't get the job after an interview? Or has to deal with a relationship gone bad? Or deal with any one of half a hundred things that can go wrong in a given day? Do they just break down mentally? Pout? Go insane?

Of course, I'm not saying 'Do nothing for your children. Let them fend for themselves. Give them a knife and compass and airdrop them in the Sierra Nevadas for two weeks.' I can only go on my own experience. I know I've worked to become what I am (which may or may not be an argument for working at all), and I definitely didn't get everything I wanted when I was young. My folks made sure I had what I needed. Education? Student loan-and two years in college. Car? Not in high school. Coddled in sports? No-and not all that good in most of them. Got picked last for the most part-but I'd not push my kids (if I had any) to be sports prodigies simply because I wasn't.

I dunno. Parents, am I completly off on this, or is balancing the desire to give your children everything vs. getting them used to taking a few hard knocks in life simply a balancing act? Or should I just shut my piehole?

As for the nephew who never learned how never to put 'thank' and 'you' in the same paragraph-well, he may find it a bit rough out in the world unless he learns some courtesy. Or it might be good that he's away from the atmosphere he appears to have grown up in. Time will tell. At one time he wanted to join the Navy, and it would have been a good thing for him. Most kids go in to boot camp surly, but, under the kind ministrations of the local Sergeant or Chief Petty Officer, come out knowing what the hell polite means. His parents probably wouldn't have let him go in unless he'd have started out commanding a carrier battle group, though.

Reckon we'll see, though. A shame he has to start his independant life with the handicap of the sense of entitlement.

I await your opinions and thoughts, folks. I'll be in and out over Labor Day weekend.

yankeedog out.


  1. Could not agree more. Get your kids to understand want vs need. Give them need and make them earn want. Basic manners are not that difficult to learn and in todays society can easily set you above the pack.

    Only defense I would offer the kid is that it is easy to take family for granted and he may be completely different outside of family. Doesn't make it right, but may explain it.

    That said, $600???? I want to be related to TBH!

  2. Naut-I'm told the average graduation gift averages $500 these days. I was simply glad to get my diploma and get out the door!

    Really, I'm glad if I find a quarter in the street-let alone fall in into big cash!

  3. YDog, I feel the same way, the eldest nephew is growing up as in he is maturing (my BIL is a very good influence there). The younger one we wait and see as he get's older, then again his mother and the BIL would tan their hides if they tried that trick with the money

  4. Bangar-Usually the first year or so of independent living knocks the starch out of the spoiled or foolish, and they become, if not paragons of virtue, at least tolerable.

    I suspect our fellow here is overgrown and underspanked. We'll see how that freshman year goes for him.