Do we coddle our children too much these days?
In a now viral YouTube speech to graduating Wellesley High School seniors last week, English teacher David McCullough Jr. tells the youth, “You’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble wrapped … feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie.”
Look, I grew up in the ’70s on a farm and a ranch where we were made to do chores… outside… in the scorching summer sun… and the whistling winter winds. (If this sounds like one of your ancient ancestor’s “I walked to school barefoot in the snow” stories, it is.) But my point is, as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
“If everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.”
When I ran track in blinding West Texas sandstorms and came in last time and again, did I get a trophy? Nope. I tried tennis. No trophies there either.
“We have of late, we Americans, to our determent, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.”
Then I found theatre and speech. Those I did not suck at. How did I know? I won a boatload of medals. And they weren’t giving them out to just anybody.
“We are happy to compromise standards or ignore reality… to have something to put on the mantelpiece. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it…”
I didn’t become famous (in fact, discovered I didn’t want to be famous). But I did learn about myself and the human race by portraying various characters. And I certainly enjoyed myself doing it.
“…Now it’s ‘so what does this get me?’”
So what does our overly pampered and coddled youth “get us” as a society? You tell me.