The Great Enabling

I’ve been teaching four-year-olds long enough that some of them are married and expecting their own children. Within that same time frame, I’ve seen plenty of teaching methods and parenting methods go in and out of favor. As an educator, I can’t say that there’s been an improvement in the methodology for teaching kids to be self-sufficient. This isn’t to say that every school and parent is failing today’s children; rather, it’s a commentary on the idea that “less struggle” isn’t the most optimal goal to have in mind for the youth of any time period.

From time to time parents send me articles about this topic and, recently, this one came my way. It’s called Snowplow Parenting (link below). This article reminded me of the first time I encountered this issue on the mat, approximately fifteen years ago. A kindergartner was approaching test time and his mother came up to me worried and asked, “What if he fails? I mean, would you fail kids this young?” I told her that I’ve been preparing him for a while and I believed he was ready. I also told her that her son knew the material required to pass, but warned her that anything can happen on a test day. I could see the concern on her face so I asked her some questions of my own. “What if he never fails until he’s eighteen years old? What if he’s in college where drugs, alcohol, and sex are all up for grabs and he’s never been told no? Never had to solve a problem? Never had to be responsible for himself?”

He ended up passing and to this day I still know the family and visit her business from time to time. Needless to say, that conversation was a defining moment for us both. Although the desire to grease the track for a student or child can be strong, it will inevitably lead to unintended consequences…such as being launched right off the track.

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