January 26, 2005
Screw Up Your Kids' Lives in One Easy Step
Wanna screw up your kids' lives? Sure you do. Because of them you have to come back from parties early so that the babysitter doesn't get mad at you. Without kids it would be much easier for you to attend the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash or take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Vegas for the weekend. Don't even start thinking about how much extra money you'd have in the bank account if you didn't have to spend so much on braces, clothes, car insurance, and groceries.
That's where I come in. If you want to punish your kids for all the damage they've done to your life, you only have to do one little thing: convince them that their education isn't important because they can be either the next American Idol, the next Carmelo Anthony, or the next Terrell Owens. If you can convince them of that, their lives are almost guaranteed to be screwed up.
Just because your kid doesn't even have a shot at being a professional athlete or a pop star shouldn't discourage you from pushing them to ignore their reading skills in hopes of perfecting their fastball, for instance. Because you know, of course, that even if your kid truly is a talented athlete or singer, that there is a big difference from high school good and college good. There's an even bigger difference between college good and pro good.
And here's the really delicious part: even if they are pro good, pro careers in athletics rarely last for more than a few years. It's an uncommonly good athlete that survives the physical strain of a pro career (not to mention the legal problems, the drug temptations, or the simple truth that most of the athletes just don't live up to the expectations). And when that rookie or first year salary is gone, your poor kids won't even have reading skills to fall back on.
And don't even get me started on how likely it is that they'll be the next Eminem or whether they'll just waste their lives with drunk, disease infested groupies. If they're lucky they'll end up like the musicians that I used to see as a bartender here in Denver: free drinks, an aging group of devoted alcoholic fans, and the occasional blow job in a disgustingly filthy bathroom in a strip mall bar. Trust me, "getting lucky" isn't even close to the term that I would use to describe the situation.
See how fun that could be?
The saddest part is that there are parents that seem to be just dandy with this scenario. I have a friend who teaches locally. A good number of the kids in her fifth grade class read on the second grade level, a handful more read on the third and fourth grade levels, and only a couple actually read at grade level. That's also a good (if sad) indicator of their skills in other areas.
Some of the worst of these kids have parents who are loath to commit their kids to extra study or help because it would conflict with their football practice. See, that's the way they're training their kids: in a choice between learning to read and learning to tackle, tackling wins.
These aren't stupid kids, but the priorities that their parents are teaching them donít stop at their free time, it goes directly into the classroom. If reading isn't important enough to the parents that they'll push their kids to succeed, then the kids know that it really isn't that important at all. When being a sports star is the all-encompassing goal, it doesn't leave much room for academic achievement.
I don't advocate squashing your kids' dreams. In fact, encouraging them to excel is encouraging them to success in whatever they choose to do. But choosing an education isn't the same as choosing not to be good at sports. The fact is, though, that most kids aren't talented or lucky enough to be a starter on a college team--and of those kids, even fewer are good enough to be a starter on a pro team.
A good parent realizes the trade-offs and also realizes that a decent education is the thing that remains when the sports career doesn't work out. They help their children learn to play that sport, but they don't shortchange the academics.
So, of course, it's the parents' choices between helping their kids down good paths or bad paths. Kids, left to their own devices, would typically rather play a game and dream of stardom than spend time with a math book.Posted by zombyboy at January 26, 2005 07:26 PM
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