Participation Trophies

As parents we love our children unconditionally, sincerely, desperately…

We want to protect them from danger, illness, and physical pain. That’s a good thing as it’s our job.

But somewhere along the way we began to try to prevent not just life threatening injuries and illnesses, but also the angst of disappointment. Instead of sympathy and understanding and encouragement for the next time, we began to help them make excuses for failure and allowed them to neglect to take responsibility for the decisions they had made. Since we wanted the world to be bright and lovely for our children we tried to shield them from the reality of losing and by shielding them, we have left them totally unprepared for the reality of being an adult. Participation trophies are a part of this shift.

Hard work became an ugly and unheralded concept because after all, if our child and their peers were equally special, success could not be something achieved by a few but something deserved by all. Suddenly every child deserved a trophy regardless of their individual contribution to a shared goal. In the end we’ve coddled and helicoptered our children into spoiled, entitled young people who mistakenly believe they deserve credit for showing up. We have not allowed or encouraged our children to discover their own talents and brilliance. The reality is that our children ARE NOT all the same. Our children won’t all be football stars or ballerinas or The President. They are not all equally attractive or gifted.  They will never be equally “special”; but they will always be equally important to those that love them and whose lives they touch.

When everyone is recognized, there can never be a best. We need the best athletes, businessmen, and parents. We need people to be the bravest and the kindest and the most compassionate too. But, our children will never be any of these things if we continue to reward them for just showing up. In the end, we will end up with a world of the most mediocre.