It all began, I think, somewhere near the turn of the 21st century. All over the country the youth of that time were practicing their skills for upcoming games against their peers. It did not matter whether the sporting season was baseball, basketball, or soccer. When game day finally arrived the excited kids would lace up their shiny new cleats or expensive fashionable high-tops, grab their gear, and show up at the proper venue. The games began innocently enough, with the enthusiastic boys and girls proudly donning their typically oversized and itchy jerseys for all to see, but inevitably the hard fought contests would end with many players and fans alike feeling a bit empty inside – an internal sense of incompletion, if you will. A majority of the kids, and a few daring parents, would ultimately ask the pertinent question, “Who won?”
Most often though the question would not be answered. That once sensible inquiry had freshly become quite taboo and deemed as a politically incorrect question to ask. Somewhere along the way the idea of winning acquired a negative connotation. I believe the thought process behind this new way of thinking was that if there’s a winner then there has to be a loser – which I guess was no longer okay. Almost overnight that undeniable fact of life apparently grew unacceptable to many adults somewhere around the turn of the century. I think that is when our coddling society began. And it has only gotten worse (unless you’re into that sort of thing). Those children, first exposed to the unnecessary pampering, are now our nation’s 30-year-olds holding onto a sense of entitlement while shamelessly living comfortably with their parents.
Nowadays, everyone gets a trophy. Little Timmy finished tenth in a field of ten? Congratulations! The first place winner is no better than you, Timmy. Be proud of that shiny trophy (your parents undoubtedly had to pay for) atop your dresser. I’m proud that I’m old-school in this area. I subscribe to the more honest notion that 2nd place means you were the first loser. I’m sorry, Timmy, but the truth is you finished last amongst the losers. You can either be content with your placing, work harder for next time, or maybe find some other activity that fits your skillset better, but absolutely no trophy for you this time. (I suppose a participation certificate might be alright.)
Our decades of catering to a coddling society have led to forced diversity and all-inclusiveness, all of today’s silly political correctness, and in turn the pampering practice has ignored common sense, shunned Biblical principles, and diminished our “acceptable” personal preferences. For instance, I have no desire to see the blockbuster movie Black Panther. That does not make me a racist. I have no interest in watching the highly acclaimed Wonder Woman movie either. That does not make me a misogynist. I simply don’t care much for superhero films. I have not seen any of them since Batman in 1989, and I only went to the theater back then because my favorite musical artist, Prince, provided the entire soundtrack.
However, in our coddling society I’m expected to wholeheartedly embrace the recent aforementioned hit movies because they supposedly “broke the glass ceiling” for all the Black actors and women in Hollywood, regardless of my personal preference of cinema. And the guilt trip shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I’m prepared to be callously labeled a homophobic for not wanting to attend the new flick Love, Simon. The movie is being lauded as the first major studio picture to focus on a gay teen love affair. No thank you. It has also recently been reported, via the Newton Daily News (4/4/18), “A new study finds the film industry’s move toward diversity has largely ignored people with disabilities.” Oh no, now I’ll surely be accused of handicapism if I happen to not be extremely enthused about whatever movie is first to cast a disabled person in the lead role.
I tend to mainly blame the parents of the millennial generation for creating our coddling society – which has over time incorporated the acceptance of irresponsibility, senseless premature celebrations, and quite frankly has led to today’s youth running the show. There are now an abundance of middle school, elementary school, and even kindergarten graduations to celebrate our youngsters’ glorious achievements. Kindergarten graduation? Congratulations, kid – you’ve mastered naps and playtime. I suppose conquering playtime might actually come in handy when you and your folks sign your first videogame contract. Wait, what? Last month The Wall Street Journal (3/15/18) reported that Tencent Holdings Ltd., a Chinese videogame company, will soon be introducing digital contracts which will allow kids and their parents to negotiate reasonable play times. The youngsters can even gather their friends to witness the signing of the contract. Here’s a novel idea: how about if parents just parent and make that type of decision on their own.
In somewhat related news, a California girl made headlines in January 2013, for drugging her folks just for the sake of being able to use the internet beyond her set curfew. Oddly enough, the American Psychological Association began identifying internet addiction as a disorder that same year. Therefore, we are expected to accept that the poor girl had no choice but to lace her parents’ milkshakes with sleeping pills due to her “condition.” Our indulging society simply does not recognize the tried-and-true practice of personal responsibility as an asset anymore. We should all know by now, in this day and age, once something is labeled an illness or an addiction, or a trend is declared an epidemic, then all blame seems to be laid at the foot of everything else rather than where it truly belongs – at the feet of the actual person whose choices led to their undesirable actions. Only in our coddling society can a man cheat on his wife, gamble away their savings, become obese, and get high – and none of it is his fault. The cheating, irresponsible, fatso druggie is regarded as the VICTIM of sex, gambling, and food addictions, and a sweeping epidemic.
Case in point, I came across an intriguing obituary late last year that I think unwittingly exposes our society’s perverse modern way of thinking and victimhood mentality. A young man died from a heroin overdose just two days before Christmas. Tragic, for sure. However, I was taken aback when the obit went on to point out that the 28-year-old Iowan was “preceded in death by 13 of his friends who lost their life to the opioid epidemic.” Thirteen! There may very well be an opioid crisis at this time in history, with enough blame to go around, but I find this particular situation to be something entirely different than what’s being proposed by the surviving family. I think it’s much more probable the deceased and his buddies were regular drug users, voluntarily in search of euphoria, rather than helpless victims of drug manufactures and negligent doctors.
Our children should certainly be heard (not just seen) and loved unconditionally, but we need to refrain from enabling them, making excuses for their unflattering behaviors, and prematurely treating them as our peers. For example, regardless of my preference for better and stricter gun regulations, I am not in favor of high school students taking on adult issues and skipping their classes in doing so. I happen to agree with the view William McGurn conveyed in The Wall Street Journal (2/27/18). The opinion page columnist wrote, “Quick show of hands for those with children: How many of you look to your teens for political wisdom, whether it’s the daughter obsessing over her Snapchat streaks or the son who would spend his day eating Doritos and binge-gaming ‘Grand Theft Auto’ if you let him?” By the way, many teens in favor of gun rights have been peacefully counter protesting the protesters, even though their stance has been (presumably) intentionally less reported by the often biased media. The truth is every generation will be divided on this hot-button issue.
While we’re at it we should also be honest and debunk the great American lie, we keep passing on to each generation, that contends you can be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. In this life, all things are not possible. I unequivocally believe Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” but only within the parameters of the Scripture’s intended meaning. God can do all things, but surely I cannot be our nation’s next Olympic champion, Miss America, or a rocket scientist. I can’t even become a bona fide journalist because my mind is just not capable of comprehending STUPID algebra – which unfortunately is a prerequisite for obtaining a journalism degree. Only in our coddling society does one truly believe that anything is possible.