Our society is focused on the negative effects of bullying, which should continue. Promoting resilience is equal in importance because… life is not fair.
JFK himself noted the phrase himself fifty years ago, ‘life is not fair,’ and that’s not going away anytime soon. It’s a fact that everyone has to deal with as they get older, and if we don’t start encouraging resilience, there’s an end result that’s not very pleasant.
Our kids will be less prepared when they have to manage adversity.
We’re witnessing this in the workforce, where those who are just starting their careers come to the job with a sense of entitlement. They can’t understand why society hasn’t dealt them a winning hand, right out of the gate and when we cross paths with truly entitled 20-somethings, it’s sad and pathetic.
I’ll share one example from my professional experience. You may think this represents some level of bullying; it is not. It represented an ongoing office problem for which there was no solution because the employee in question did not possess the wherewithal to deal with criticism.
I’m speaking about a sales assistant I worked with a decade ago. During the interview process, he was charming, intelligent and well spoken. He was more than qualified for the job and we hired him.
It’s worth noting that sales assistants, those who are just starting their careers, are gluttons for punishment. They have to manage a wide variety of tasks, be accessible to several salespeople and let’s face it – if you’ve ever worked with a team of sales reps, they are a chaotic bunch. They have to manage quotas, schedule meetings and they live on a diet of airplane food, caffeine and booze. Plus, they rarely sleep, so multiply this several sales reps and the sales assistant has an impossible job at certain times.
What happened when the sales assistant noted above was given a minor dose of criticism when he made a mistake?
It wasn’t just me; it became an office ‘thing’ for this sales assistant to break down whenever someone had something less than pleasant to share with him.
He got over it and went on to have a successful career in sales, but I never forgot how sensitive he was.
When my kid comes back from the playground or school and notes someone called him a bad name, my first reaction is not, ‘who’s that miserable kid, I want to speak to his parents.’ My response is, ‘okay, how did you handle it?’
He tells me the bad words someone used to describe him and I wait to see how he responded. I make a point to note how silly it is for someone to call him a dumb head (or worse). When he’s asked what he should do, I tell him to stand up for yourself or better yet – find someone else to play with.
I strive to let him work it out himself, but more importantly, I want him to have a backbone.
There’s a new phrase that surfaced during the college admissions scandal, called ‘Snow Plow Parenting,’ and it’s quite fitting. If we remove all barriers, all bullies, every obstacle and anything that prevents our kids from ‘winning,’ aren’t we setting them up for a lifetime of disappointment?
You have to let your kids fail so they can get a taste of disappointment, otherwise, they’ll expect life to hand them a bowl of sugar cane every time they open their mouth.
The reality is they will have a harder life when they do not understand that being an adult requires the cognitive ability to manage real-world responsibilities, debt, stress and pressure.
Make sure to promote ‘resilience’ whenever the opportunity arises.
Originally Published on The Father Apprentice