Winning is Losing

Have you ever let your child win? Maybe it was a board game or a game of tag. Maybe you were playing Just Dance 2 on the Wii and you “missed” a few dance moves so your child’s score would bump up. At some point we have all done it. Perhaps to make them feel better about themselves, or “share the wealth.” And at some point, we’ve realized it was time to let them lose.

The other night I was watching an episode of Parenthood on NBC. In this episode, entitled “Sore Loser,” parents Joel and Julia are told they are coddling their seven-year old daughter, Sydney. Sydney blew up at a family gathering after messing up and losing her turn at charades. She yelled, threatened, turned over the popcorn bowl and stormed out of the room. Sydney thinks it’s her birthright to win. Joel and Julia are told that it is time for their daughter to lose. “She doesn’t need confidence, she needs humility.”

We learn about winning, and thereby losing, at a very young age. My two-year old daughter understands what it means to win. My older girls want to know who is the winner of every sports game, match or race. “Winning” became a popular catch phrase recently thanks to Charlie Sheen. apparently, he was “winning” a lot. Though most of us might have interpreted his situation as “losing.”

Some where along the way, it was decided that letting children win at everything was the best thing for them. Suddenly t-ball and softball games don’t have a winner. We’re all winners! “Fs” were taken off of report cards, because we don’t want to use the word “fail.” But, it is the best thing for them?

In his book Parenting by The Book, author John Rosemond says that a focus on self-esteem has taken over parenting during the past forty years. He says that “people with a high self-esteem possess an entitlement mentality; they believe that anything they do is worthy of merit. As a consequence, they rarely do their best at anything…People with high self-esteem have little tolerance for disappointment, frustration, failure, and criticism.” He believe we should be teaching our children the opposite. We should teach them humility.

So, the next time you pull out Candy Land or Stratego, who’s going to win?

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

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