Simplistic or Sensible?

Larry Winget wants parents to know a few things and he’s very direct about it:  Your kids aren’t special.  They might even be a mess.  And what’s worse, if you don’t do the right thing they will grow up to be messy adults like the sports heroes who are screwing up their lives.

Winget calls himself a “pit bull of personal development”.  He’s a motivational speaker and author in the realm of personal finances  (You’re Broke Because You Want To Be) who has expanded into parenting. He also wears the most ridiculously oversized jewellery I’ve ever seen on someone who is not a starlet on a Hollywood red carpet…but I digress.

The Toronto Star interviewed Winget a couple of weeks ago about his book, “Your Kids Are Your Own Fault: A Guide for Raising Responsible, Productive Adults.”  He doesn’t hold back in his advice to parents; you need to build a sense of self-worth in your kids from within.  They are over-entertertained and under-disciplined with a sense of entitlement.  Telling them that they’re special and perfect and wonderful all the time is giving them a self-esteem boost they haven’t earned and it’s different from telling them they’re loved.

“Your kids aren’t special”, Winget told The Star.  “Your kids are special to YOU.  They need to understand that, in the real world, they’re just one more kid.”  He goes on to say that they have to earn their specialness, to actually DO something for it. 

It doesn’t take a supernanny to be able to recognize examples of what Winget is saying in everyday life.  It’s as simple as a Mom in the grocery store whose kid starts to get fussy and instead of reinforcing proper behavior, she buys her a toy to distract her from the boredom of food shopping.  You know what sweet pea? Sometimes life is going to be boring and you’ll have to do things you don’t want to as an individual because it’s best for the group – that is, if the group wants to eat. So be quiet and we’ll watch Dora when we get home.

I know that parenting is the hardest thing there is, no question, and it’s a job I have elected to not take on.  But I was a kid once and I know that although I was always told that I could do anything I wanted in life, I also had to follow the rules and face the consequences if I didn’t.  Winget doesn’t think every parent is messing it up but he’d like them to assess themselves by using his book as a how-to.  It couldn’t hurt.  After all, it is the hardest occupation in the world and it doesn’t come with a job description.