I hate it when this happens. I think I’m all sorts of smart, like I’m on to something, and then Bam. I’m reminded I’m not so smart after all, and I may have actually been doing this all wrong. I, in all my infinite wisdom, decided to raise my kids to always try their best. To do things that resonated with them. I proclaimed that I will have been successful as a parent if I raise my children to be kind people who make a difference in this world, in whatever way resonates with them, so long as they also make a living doing something legal that pays the bills.
I wanted to get away from all the helicopter parenting. I wanted to get away from the Asian culture I grew up in, where children fulfilled parents’ wishes instead of what interested the children, and their only goal was to be the best at everything, at any cost.
So I allowed my kids to choose the activities that interested each of them. I supported and celebrated their efforts and experiential learning instead of end results. I stressed the process of things, the connections and relationships with people, the experience of things. I thought all of this sounded reasonable. I thought this sounded like a more civilized approach to parenting. I thought this was good for their mental health and well-being. I thought it would raise future good citizens and stewards of the world.
Any or all of that may be true. But apparently, along the way, I have also raised the World’s Laziest Children. Holy Slackers, Batman. I have raised two of the least motivated slackers you will ever meet. They may be kind. They may be thoughtful. They may be charming. But my God, they are bums.
Let me be clear–I don’t believe one ought to be rewarded for effort only–when one team loses, everyone should not get a trophy. Methinks you ought to suck up the fact that you lost. Nice try, but you lost, kid. So many lessons to learn from losing. Let me be clear also that I make my children do chores, as an expectation for being part of the family and not for an allowance. They are required to take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, fold and put away laundry, feed the cat, and vacuum the house. Yard work as needed. Everything you touch? Put it back where it belongs, please.
But my God, you’d think I was asking them to recreate Stonehenge with their bare hands. The whining, the belly-aching, the resistance. All futile efforts on their part, but I am tired of hearing it. They don’t want to lift a finger. They’re lazy bums!
And truly they have no drive or ambition. The Boy has been nominated to audition for the county GT Orchestra. An honor to be sure. He was so excited and proud. Until he realized he had to practice. Let me be clear also that he can easily play all the required elements of the audition. But the mere thought of putting effort and time into anything other than reading or playing just threw him into a tantrum fit for a toddler. This is a common theme for my children. It’s part of their charm.
So I am left wondering, has my goal of raising kind, thoughtful citizens led to raising kids who only seek mediocrity? Who lack any inner spark, any inner drive, any ambition? I truly don’t know the answer to this, and I truly don’t know how to light their inner spark. They’ve certainly discovered activities that resonate with them, that light up their eyes. But they lack ambition. I’m not sure what the answer is, what I’ve done wrong, or what I haven’t done yet. But now I’m suddenly fearful they may end up living in my basement when they’re middle-aged after all.