Friday, August 25, 2017

Much Ado About Participation Trophies

I'm convinced that, when it comes to rearing children, everyone is ready to offer absolutist opinions. Even people who have none of their own and cannot speak from direct experience. This is an example of the dark side of the African "It takes a village to rear a child" proverb. Yes, whether the advice is wanted or needed, or not.

I guess it starts with the birthing process. People have firm opinions about what form of prepared childbirth, and where the mother-to-be should have the baby. Even people who might have had different experiences themselves.

And breast versus bottle feeding. Now here's an occasion for unbridled shaming whatever the choice. (Is it too extreme to speak of Breastfeeding Nazis? I don't know what the real deal ones or the Alt Right ones advocate regarding breastfeeding; but they have definite opinions, I'm sure.) After all, mother's milk does not come in detachable containers and a little bit of breast exposure might accidentally happen. Oh how shameful!*

Naturally, there is also arguments over when weaning is to take place; with attachment parents advocating doing it later to foster closer bonds between child and mother. Remember that Time cover?

And styles of parenting are openly discussed. Is it best to be an authoritarian, permissive, or authoritative parent and what are the consequences of each of the possible strategies? (For the record, authoritative parenting yields better outcomes, over all.)

To heavily schedule and arrange the child's life or not? Some are described as "helicopter parents." Others, usually in safer places, allow their children to be free-ranging. And there's a lot of argument over this too.

However, the latest thing that people are now getting their knickers in a twist over are  participation trophies. See also this from the sainted NYT.  Yes, those little trophies or medals or certificates that team coaches and/or parents bestow on participants at the end of the sport in question's season are the cause of worries and even conniption fits! Yes, even losing teams get trophies, not just the over all champions! This is plumb un-American! How dare they!

Good Lord! Imagine the scandal from giving trophies to a soccer team of seven- or eight-year-old boys and girls who won only four of ten games! Is this rewarding mediocrity?

Lighten up, people!

Remember that it was these same kids who showed up for practice, in most cases learned new skills, and may not have been 100% eager for the entire process while it was going on. (Adults have a penchant for thinking that children necessarily think the same way they do.) 

In short, why not take the time to make them feel good about themselves? Do we have to resolve everything in terms of being the best or world champions?** Jeesh! Is our goal to make children feel like losers? Some of the critics seem to think so, if they thought it through. 

Also remember that grown-ups are inclined to award themselves participation certificates, trophies, or decals certifying that they did something. Like this one***:

*A little note - I remember when a bitchy neighbor criticized us preschool girls for playing at breastfeeding our dollies! 

**Last year both the Cubs and the Indians were champions, though only the Cubs won the World Series.

***No criticism here. Anyone who can get it through a 26.2 Marathon deserves a pat on the back!


Mike said...

WAIT! I thought the whole idea of sports was not to win but make the other team feel like losers. Did I miss something?!

Deena said...

Participation trophies are to satisfy the parents of little snowflakes.

John Hill said...

When it comes to free advice, it's often only worth what you pay for it ... nothing.
Another good post, Angel.
Btw, I don't know where you are in Tennessee, but if you're up for coffee or a snack and are not far off my route of travel, I would love to meet you. You can text or email me (info is on my blog). I hope that doesn't sound too creepy.

Jono said...

The most hilarious and meaningless opinions on childbirth are generally from men. Giving trophies for just showing up makes it all kind of meaningless. If it isn't fun don't participate.

Cloudia said...

How DARE you! You are right, Angel. So right. Everyone it seems demands perfect freedom and great service for themselves, while shaming and shirking as they go!

allenwoodhaven said...

It can be overdone, but there's nothing wrong with participation trophies. Let kids get some positive reinforcement in their lives!

Grand Crapaud said...

Participation medals, certificates, or trophies do not bother me. People are too quick to censure others' actions.

Bilbo said...

Is the office of Vice President a participation award?