This Will Hurt, Harm and Suck The Very Life Out of Your Child
Not knowing the evidence will hurt your child. (and you)
I have a brilliant sister whose name is Penny. It is a great British name. I call her Nelope. Nelope attended the same undergraduate college as I did in Virginia. Both of us had attended summer school so that we could finish our degrees in the shortest time possible. The result was that we both completed our degrees in the middle of the school year in December.
Nelope then left to go to Dallas and begin her doctoral work in psychology. Penny chose to return to Virginia to walk in the graduation ceremony in May of the next year. She decided she would drive a car she had recently bought that purportedly got great mileage and would make the trip much more economical than when she drove to Dallas in a huge gas guzzler (Delta 88) that got eight to ten miles to the gallon.
The car she bought was a small foreign car that had a great reputation and was supposed to get at least 35-40 miles to the gallon on the highway. When Penny arrived she talked about how the car was really nice but certainly didn’t deliver what she had been told. She said that when she got on the highway and was going 65 mph, the car not only didn’t have the cruising ability she anticipated but basically got around twenty-five miles to the gallon, and on top of that the car had a high whine.
A few days later we were going down Highway 29 in central Virginia, and I was driving. Penny looked over at me and asked what I had just done. I didn’t know what she meant. She asked what I had just done with the gearshift (the car was a stick shift). What had gone awry in her earlier trip was that Penny had driven stick shifts her entire driving career but had never driven a stick shift with five forward gears. The fifth gear was engineered to maximize highway driving, but Penny had never driven a car with a fifth gear. She had driven in 4th gear for 1,200 miles.
This story is simple but profound in terms of what it tells us about the post important task of parenting. Helping your children discover their Talents and develop their character. The essential question is this: “What happens when kids fail to know who they are and why their lives matter?”
What they don’t know can hurt them. They end up spending more for gas because they end up using more gas. Trying to do and live what they are not uniquely designed to do always requires more effort. They put out more effort and always get fewer results. They compare themselves to others and feel less than. When they are anxious and feel inferior they depress and find illegitimate ways to stand out. We think they need medicating when discovering where they fit will bring life-long positive emotion.
They are left feeling disappointed with life because it doesn’t deliver what every young optimistic life feels is promised. They feel they were sold something second-rate and they get angry. They give in to peer pressure and do whatever will bring them excitement in the moment – often with consequences that could potentially change the course of their lives.
There is a distraction or high whine always in the background. They often get used to it, but they know that something is wrong and just can’t figure out what it is. They get frustrated and will seek ways to kill the noise.
They tend to break down because the stress of using so much energy to produce the speed expected but not experienced just wears on them. There are times when they just plain overheat and break down.
Penny didn’t experience the very design property the car was known for and for which she purchased it. She could have saved herself a lot of frustration, disappointment, money, wasted time, and more if she knew the design of this car. Before your child can really drive, they must know who they are and own their Talents. That is what parenting is – Helping your children discover their Talents and develop character that will guide the use of those Talents. Preparing them for life.
Kids don’t attempt to use what they don’t know or are not convinced of. Some parents just keep trying and trying to help their kids be happy. The truth is they can’t be happy if they don’t know their Talents. There are no happier kids than those who know what they are great at and get the opportunity to display those Talents and give them to others. They know what their futures can be
There are others who just work harder, faster, and longer. Their belief is that the busier they are, then they matter. Lots of energy and action do not equate to being happy. Spinning one’s wheels just makes a deeper hole and sends lots of dirt flying around. Does that sound like your child? Are they busy, doing many good things, active and moving?
Sometimes the noise of doing makes them deaf to their lack of purpose, but when the noise fades and they are quiet, they have a deep sense of needing to ask the question “Who am i?”, and the answer is they don’t know! They are not happy, they are just exhausted and wondering whether they really want to start up and move faster the next time.