We all know that no two individuals and families are the same. So by my math using Earth’s population of 7.13 billion people and, for arguments sake, using an average family size of four people, then there are just over 178 million families with different needs and different perceptions of success. With respect to her point being targeted on the western world ideology, my claim shrinks that number greatly. However, the concept of differentiating thoughts on success is still present. You can’t write a holistic article and generalize that the youth of today are not ready for the challenges tomorrow when there are so many different pathways to success. But what does success mean?
If you were to ask the modern parents what success means for their child, I’m sure you would find different answers based on the environment in which they live. Factors, such as socioeconomic status, would greatly change parent responses. There is nobody who can convince me that it is good for poverty-stricken children to continue to feel hardships so they can learn to overcome the obstacles they will face when they are in adulthood. They have gone through enough, and in my opinion every one of them deserves praise, gifts and any other type of gratification that they can get. Let them indulge in positivity as if they fail to receive it, perhaps these children will be to far off track to prosper economically and socially once they become independent. Conversely, there are the children who are raised in upper-class homes. Some of these children get the fancy gadgets, the designer clothes, beautiful new cars and even an education fully paid. These kids don’t feel the financial hardships and the pride that comes when you earn something. For these types of kids you can’t tell me that giving them a new tablet is best for them. But it is not the devices, or showering of gifts, that affects the backbone these kids will need to face future adversity.
Actually it is on these devices, they see the world changing. They see celebrities holding a phone in one hand and a ten-dollar drink in the other. They see stories of women carrying buckets of water on their head full of dirty water. If you ask them they will likely tell you the Starbucks drinking celebrity is more successful than the water-carrying lady. But here is where you must stop them. Is that woman struggling? Maybe that picture is of a successful, strong woman in her own environment. She is successful, just not in the means that the western world might recognize. So instead of being so quick to make assumptions, use the term success as a word for deeper enlightenment, not judgment. Explain how both the lady carrying water and the phone holding celebrity had to develop a backbone to get where they are. That they both had challenges and they both had to persevere. That regardless of your upbringing, forks always appear in the road. That it’s how you overcome these road blocks that gets you ready for later life challenges, and not Ms. Goodman’s assertions.
Moreover, let’s look at the idea of “monkey see monkey do”, and the importance of the home. As I’ve mentioned previously, kids are sponges. They pick up everything they see and hear. This means we as caretakers are being observed at all times. But we already know this. When your kid says a bad word, you know where he learned it, but too often we deflect blame rather than owning it and using it to teach. Vygotsky claims that solutions and problems are learned socially from the surroundings. So here, at home, is the single most important avenue to success (regardless of your idea of success), as this is where the child is most of the time. Vygotsky states problems and solutions are learned from your surroundings. So instead of finding excuses, be a superhero role model who conquers all. Regardless of socio-economic status or any other environmental variable, modeling strength is key. Live a life you want your kids to be proud of. If you do this I am sure your child will develop that backbone needed for later life successes, regardless of the amount of early, unjust gratification they may receive.
When is that last time you received praise? Did it make you feel good? Was it deserved? Ms. Goodman claims that if you answered no to the last question, and you are a kid, that you have just been damaged. I claim nonsense. No matter what the praise is it feels good. It puts us in a happy mental place. Of course more direct, meaningful praise impacts our psyche more, but some is better than none. Brene Brown, world-renowned author, believes that belonging begins with self-acceptance, and that believing you are enough gives you courage. Praise, no matter just or not, gives us these feelings of acceptance and worth, and in turn gives us courage. Courage being an attribute that Ms. Goodman claims is needed to succeed. But then again, deciding what to “succeed” means is clearly up for debate.
So in my opinion, praise away. Give all the devices you please. If these items of fulfillment are not warranted it is still better than the opposite. There won’t be consequences for making a child feel worth, happy and confident. It is you as a role model and the lessons you teach your child that prepares him for the future. So, talk about your failures, talk about your vulnerabilities, model politeness, love, respect and risk-taking. It is those lessons witnessed, that shape the future of our children. And lastly, we need to stop stereotyping people and in this case words. Stop generalizing “success” because there is no universal definition.