Yesterday over lunch I was reading the daily paper.  The one in our area is not the greatest.  It is a more of a distraction with some news.  Most of it is leaning a different direction than I enjoy yet it is news and not over the top like others in our area.

I came across an article entitled “Program helps kids ‘be okay with good enough’ with a time and date to hear more at a prestigious school in the area.  My blood started to boil and the absolutely delicious quiche (made by our other resident chef) I was eating was in jeopardy of staying in my stomach.  What is wrong with striving to be the best?  More dumbing down was my thought.  The next thought was that I must write a letter to the editor.  Even more so since the last line of the article had a typo.  Guess that is good enough!  I calmed and continued to read the paper.  Perhaps at the event that was advertised will shed more light onto ‘good enough’. Perhaps it will be a discussion of the best  children do and not letting them off the hook to try.  It did not read that way.

In the obituaries a beautiful blonde girl in the picture popped off the page.  I do not normally read the obituaries here as I rarely know anyone.  My hometown paper is another thing all together.  This picture caught my eye so I had to read it.  This young lady was 22 and had completed a course in cosmetology and was a beautician.  There was no cause of death or anywhere to send donations in lieu of flowers.  The obituary heralded her spirit, her love of her cats and outings at the beach with her family and friends.  It said her brother had passed before her.  I immediately had two thoughts.  The obituary said sudden with no mention of an accident and I thought perhaps it was drug related.  Then the next thought was, in light of the previous article, had she been pushed to discover she was only ‘good enough’?

I have no idea why this beautiful girl is no longer with us.  I am certain her parents are devastated as I would be.  Yet do you think for one minute that parents of this young lady, who had achieved the happiness it appeared that she did, would have ever said that is ‘good enough’?  These two items in the paper do not relate directly yet they hit me both like a slap in the head.  Did this little girl not measure up to her own standards?  Was she not ‘good enough’ for herself for her family or friends?  How sad. Why would anyone want to be ‘good enough’?

While I realize we cannot all be ‘whiz kidz’, is it not up to us as parents to encourage and dare I say push them to be the best they can be in all they endeavor???  Please note the intricacies in what I just wrote.  I will break it down as it is my whole point……..the BEST…..THEY can be.  Not simply ‘good enough’.

I did not say the best the world tells them to be.  I did not say the best their school tells them they have to be.  I did not even say the best their parents want them to be.  I said the best that THEY can be.  That is my point.  We are in the process of dumbing down our children our country indeed perhaps our whole world by not striving.  We are now telling our children it is ‘good enough’.  Where are the standards to which we used to strive to exceed?  Where is the norm that we know we can surpass?

Now hold it.  Do not go ballistic on me.  I can see my cousin who happens to be a guidance counselor getting her back up a bit.  Leaving this on its own she has a right.  Let me further explain.  I believe we have to have standards.  In fact a book I am reading, it just came to me as I am feverishly typing not to forget my train of thought, is about the same thing.  “The Noticer Returns” by Andy Andrews is speaking of standards when I fell asleep last night.  I finished it last night after I started writing this to see if my point is made within those pages.  It is a must read.  Andy Andrews goes much deeper into this same discussion.

Back to my point.  We have to have, there needs to be, norms for everyone to look to, try to reach and even go beyond.  Goalposts are important.  If we did not have them would children crawl, walk, feed themselves?  Of course they would.  The point is they will do it in their own time and in their own way.  That is how we must look at our babies.  I must note here that I wish I had done a better job of this during our children’s growing up.  While I helped them to become their own people perhaps I pushed a common standard to fit in too much.  I am learning from my grandchildren.

Each one of them is an individual simply by the beings that they are.  I look at the engineer or techie, the creative actress and the athlete and cannot wait to see how close my predictions are as they grow up.  While they have standards to meet in school, their parents, we as the grandparents and their other grandparents, I am certain are requiring that whatever they do they try to be the best they can be.  It could be better than the norms.

I would not ever tell them to be good enough.  Isn’t that like having them study for a spelling test and missing three words and saying that is ‘good enough’.  No they have to learn how to spell.  You say that was a really good effort this week.  Do you think you can get them next time?  Perhaps we need to study a bit more?  This puts them in control of the work.  Saying that is ‘good enough’ let’s them off the hook do you not think?  How will they learn to spell?

If they take a history test that has essay questions which are more subjective and they miss the mark is that ‘good enough’?  In this case I might in fact tell them that their hardest effort was terrific.  If I see they have tried the hardest they can and miss the mark then that is terrific.  That is the goalpost.  It is not ‘good enough’.  It is superb.  I believe that this way I am letting them know that their very best effort is wonderful.  This would probably be followed by a discussion of the issue s in the essay to expand on what they were learning to be better prepared the next time.

You see I believe the best way to raise children is to not expect perfection.  Growing up is messy and takes great effort on everyone’s part. I believe it is best to raise them to expect to be loved no matter what happens.  In doing that it would be my hope that they would try to do their very best all the time.

Isn’t being ‘good enough’ similar to giving everyone a trophy at the end of the season?  While it is good everyone has a sense of accomplishment do not fool yourselves.  Those kids know who is the best batter or the best point guard or the best runner.  Do you not think we are hypocritical to not acknowledge what children already know.  Some of them are better than others.  There is no crime.  Praise hard fought for is praise well deserved.  The other kids will be happy to be on the team if they are coached to be a team and celebrated for who each of them are as a participant.

Did I miss it?  Did everyone in the Olympics get a trophy?  Or were there only three podiums.  The others evidently were raised to think they were only ‘good enough’.





By ktsquared Posted in Trivia

2 comments on “STOP DUMBING DOWN

  1. On this same point, I hear from many quarters that there is an unfair distribution of wealth and income inequality in our society. This concept of accepting “good enough” or “everyone gets a trophy” is surely a cause of the disappearance of the middle class. The more individuals accept “good enough” the lower they will drop in income and lifetime wealth. There will always be those few among us who are blazingly creative. There will always be those few among us who through shear energy and discipline achieve the highest spots. With an ever-increasing population of “good enoughs” those other few go-getters will seem further and further away on both the income and wealth measures. Unfair? If you have settled for “good enough” in yourself, your loved ones or the ones you pity, just keep your mouth shut about the achievements of those few who choose the road of dedication and creativity.

  2. You said all this perfectly! It is voiced better than I could have ever expressed, saying everything we exactly believe. This country leading towardsnot rewarding the ones who do achieve and rewarding all for just participating I believe is in trouble regarding the success of our children in the future.

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