You are not special

Jun 13th
Posted by shambo  as Current Events, Economics, Education, Family

Let me say this about that.

A little over two years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Parenting for Dummies”.¬† ¬†That article had one basic point:¬†¬†¬†“Every parent¬†who teaches¬†their kids that they are ‘special’ is leaving them grossly unprepared for adult life”.¬† Fast forward to the summer of 2012 and¬†I¬†discover an article about a high school commencement¬†speaker telling the graduating class that “….you are NOT special.”

The article described the¬†speaker’s commentary as¬†the students and parents gasped:¬† ” You have been¬†pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped, nudged, cajoled, wheeled, implored, counseled, consoled, encouraged, kissed, fed, trained, tutored, coached, had your mouth wiped and had your butt wiped.¬† But, don’t get the idea that you are anything special.¬† Because you’re not.”

The man giving the commencement address was just not some old unemployed burnout, but the son of David McCullough, two time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.¬† His message:¬† “Every parent¬†who teaches their kids that they are ‘special’ is leaving them grossly unprepared for adult life.”

Empirical evidence shows the last couple of generations have produced increasingly soft and entitled offspring…… kids who go to college, party¬†through four years of¬†majors in Drama, or Fine Arts, or Sports Commentary,¬†or¬†Indian Mysticism, and are shocked that they can’t get a job.¬† I mean hell, they have a degree and everyone knows they are ‘special’,¬†so what gives?¬† But, this is the ‘good news’.

According to the nonprofit organization American Student Assistance, American college students borrowed…¬†¬†¬† $17,000,000,000 in the school year 2008 alone!!!¬† Plus, the average college student also carried a balance of $3,173 in credit card debt.¬† To make the math a little less complex, you can figure that every American college student exits college in debt to the tune of $25,000.¬† AND, some exit without a degree.¬† AND, some exit with a degree in ‘Social Work’, but are forced to take a job in the fast food industry for $15,600/year……….. how ‘special’ is that?

If their parents are still dumb enough to keep telling their little prima donnas that they are ‘special’, then¬†they are rewarded by having their little darlings move back in with them – perhaps for years, or until someone else¬†discovers their ‘specialness.’¬†

OK.¬† I have a question.¬† Whatever happened to working your way through college?¬† When I went to college in the ‘Baby Boomer’ era, this was commonplace.¬† Everyone did it to one degree or another.¬† I¬†worked my way through college by getting a paid internship (or Co-Op program as it was called in those days), supplemented by working as a construction laborer between semesters, supplemented by going to night school during my Co-Op work periods, supplemented by working two jobs (one as a janitor in a church and the other as a house painter) on the weekends…… took me six years to do it, but when I graduated, my parents¬†were not burdened by¬†one cent in student loans or indebtedness of any kind.¬† I¬†got a great job as an engineer, in part because my employer said I showed that I had a mature sense of responsibility by working my way through school.

My parents never told me I was ‘special’, presumably because I wasn’t.¬† It was the greatest gift they could ever have given me.¬† I was taught that the world owed me nothing and that was exactly what I could expect to receive.¬† If I were to survive in this world – let alone accomplish anything of note – it could only be achieved through hard work,¬† meaningful results, and not whining when I failed.

I have another question.¬† Would you pay¬†a kid $45,000/year to run your family finances,¬†who had just graduated with a fresh degree in “Family Studies”, with no work experience, and who had left his family with a $25,000 debt after four years of fraternity house parties?¬† Well, neither would anyone else.¬† Not even his own family.

OK, I have yet another question.¬† Why do people have kids in the first place?¬† I have no kids, primarily because in my personal experience, the little bastards suck the life out of you.¬† Yeah, yeah, I can hear all the parents gasping and wheezing to near asphyxiation now.¬† “I love my kids.¬† My kids are the greatest.¬† Having kids is wonderful.¬† And yada – yada.”¬† Fine.¬† I am not advocating that you should not love your kids – after all, it’s far too late for you to have a choice.¬† But read the next couple of sentences and THEN challenge my hypothesis that kids “suck the life out of their parents”.

Just think for a moment….. NO, I mean STOP and really think.

From the time that¬†you and your spouse¬†find out that the wife¬†is pregnant, throughout nine emotionally racked months of pregnancy, through childbirth, throughout all those sleepless nights of crying babies, changing thousands of diapers filled with the most putrid substance ever made by humans, the diseases, the doctor visits, the emergency room traumas, the elementary school dramas, the shopping trips for clothes and¬†shoes, the¬†orthodontic braces, the soccer trip runs, band practice, summer camp, school supplies, broken bones from the bike accident, the teenage years of the “I needs” and the “I will just die if I don’t get a ___”, the girl that your son may have gotten pregnant, your daughter who may have gotten pregnant, the drug, alcohol and cigarette experimentation, buying them a car, wrecking the car,¬†paying for their gas and insurance ……. all to the ultimate reward of having your little ‘special’ offspring stand in the living room and shouting at the top of their lungs: “I hate you – I hate you.”¬†

Of course, there are good moments, but these are as time consuming as well.¬† Ever planned a daughter’s wedding?¬† Ever enrolled a son in Little League?¬† Ever volunteered to watch the grandkids “for a while”?¬† The point I’m trying to make is that having kids is sometimes good – sometimes bad – but always time consuming.

Parents have lived a little over a quarter million hours from pregnancy to the time their kid reaches 30.  How many of those quarter million hours were absorbed by SOMETHING that involved your kids?  For couples with kids Рespecially if they have (God forbid) more than one, my guess is close to 100,000 hours is sucked-up doing or thinking about doing something involving your kids.

OK.¬† I have a question for all you parents.¬† What could you do with your life with an extra 100,000 hours?¬† That’s an extra 11 years in your life that you could do anything – amazing things.¬† Eleven years of life that have been sucked from the precious few you have been allotted.

Men and women are different.¬† Men are usually¬†fairly rational – though not always.¬† Women are – well who the hell knows with women?¬† Steven Hawking, renowned theoretical physicist and¬†acknowledged super genius once said that the one enduring mystery of the universe no one has been able to crack …. was women.¬†¬†Professor Hawking is a helluva lot smarter than I am so¬†I will only address¬†my¬†closing¬†question to the men reading this article.

OK guys, here’s the question.¬† How many of you would still elect to become parents if there were no sex involved?

And, that’s all I have to say about that.




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