Sum­mer­time: Why eas­ier & eas­ier…makes it harder & harder!

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Dr. Randy Cale

Grad­u­a­tions abound all around us. That’s a sure sign sum­mer is here! Your kids need a break. You need a break. Likely, most of us do. We all yearn for some time to re­lax, aban­don the pres­sured life, and have some old-fash­ioned fun. Yet, how much ease is optimal? Should we keep mak­ings sum­mers eas­ier and eas­ier for our youth, who are mov­ing to­ward adult­hood?

Let’s Make it Eas­ier… Give Them What They Want.

Many chil­dren face the sum­mer with mul­ti­ple va­ca­tions, hang­ing at the pool and an end­less ar­ray of sleep­overs and day trips to have fun. They won’t crack a book, pick up a rake or make a bed. Mom or Dad are not only pro­vid­ing what seems like an end­less ar­ray of en­ter­tain­ment, but they are also re­spond­ing to re­peated, ur­gent re­quests for sleep­overs, pool par­ties and sud­den get-to­geth­ers.

All things con­sid­ered; the fo­cus is on mak­ing sure chil­dren get to do (mostly) what they want. The ‘mak­ing it easy’ ap­proach is filled with ease and fun, and lit­tle de­mand to con­trib­ute or to take on re­spon­si­bil­ity. When kids ask for some­thing, many of us just give in…and go.

Too of­ten, we have be­come wish-ful­fill­ing ma­chines for our chil­dren, giv­ing them what they want over and over. Why?

Give Them What They Want… They Will Be Hap­pier…Per­haps?

Check your own his­tory, and experience­s with your chil­dren. When they keep get­ting what they want, do they re­ally seem hap­pier? Are they ful­filled, and rid­ing waves of joy for days and weeks on end?

No, they are not. There may be the ap­pear­ance of hap­pi­ness for a mo­ment or two, but then no­tice: Most quickly want some­thing else, or they are com­plain­ing about what they do have. Why is this?

The Prob­lems with Kids Get­ting Every­thing They Want.

Usu­ally, there is lit­tle to no ef­fort in the get­ting.

This is a tremen­dous set-up for mis­ery in life. Rarely, do we get any­thing of value with­out the giv­ing of real ef­fort. And when we raise chil­dren with the for­mula that they ask, and then they get…well, you can see the set-up!

Deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for all we ‘get’ flows from hav­ing ‘skin in the game.’

You can also see where many chil­dren and teens are ac­cus­tomed to get­ting stuff, en­ter­tain­ment, and do­ing what they want WITH­OUT hav­ing any real ‘skin in the game.’ They do not then ex­pe­ri­ence much ap­pre­ci­a­tion for all they have. If we want more ap­pre­cia­tive kids this sum­mer, make sure they have con­trib­uted in some way to what they want. (At least make this true a good por­tion of the time!)

Ap­pre­ci­a­tion is the mother of hap­pi­ness.

With­out it, it’s hard to find real hap­pi­ness. And with sin­cere, deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion, hap­pi­ness seems to spring up ev­ery­where. So, you can then see how this comes to­gether. With­out putting forth ef­fort to­ward their de­sires, there is of­ten lit­tle ap­pre­ci­a­tions. With­out ap­pre­ci­a­tion, there is lit­tle hap­pi­ness.

There is no growth or con­tri­bu­tion in just get­ting.

One way to create a deep sense of sat­is­fac­tion and inner hap­pi­ness is through our own per­sonal growth, and through con­tribut­ing to some­thing big­ger than our­selves. If chil­dren/teens are just focused on the nar­cis­sis­ti­cally con­sumed world of get­ting what they want (and usu­ally get­ting it RIGHT NOW), then kids never have a chance to dig deeply into some­thing be­yond their own ego-driven de­sires. This is more im­por­tant than it ap­pears, even if it just means that you mow the lawn or help your grand­mother around the house or de­vote a day to com­mu­nity ser­vice in some way.

Con­clu­sion: Your chil­dren get­ting all they want is not a for­mula for hap­pi­ness. The easy life is not a for­mula for hap­pi­ness or suc­cess. The re­search has proven this is true.

Get­ting what we want just leads to more want­ing, and this is pure mis­ery. Whether it’s the phys­i­cal stuff, the time with friends, or the time on­line… more get­ting is not the an­swer. And eas­ier is also not the an­swer. It breeds lazi­ness, and the de­sire for seeking im­me­di­ate ease and fun over the more mean­ing­ful ef­forts lead­ing to growth and con­tri­bu­tion.

Fi­nal Note: Mak­ing it too easy now will only make it hard later.

Please con­sider this critical con­clu­sion. Life is simply not that easy, es­pe­cially if you want to be happy and suc­cess­ful. It takes ef­fort. It takes skin in the game. It takes find­ing a way to con­trib­ute to some­thing more than your im­me­di­ate de­sires for ease and en­ter­tain­ment.

Con­sider us­ing this sum­mer as a plat­form to be­gin to teach this critical les­son. Make sure there are chores, con­tri­bu­tions to com­mu­nity and fam­ily, as well as time to in­vest their own ef­forts into some­thing that they want or de­sire. You can do it, and it will mat­ter im­mensely. The con­se­quences of ig­nor­ing this are pain­ful.

Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park-based par­ent­ing ex­pert, au­thor, speaker and li­censed psy­chol­o­gist, of­fers prac­ti­cal guid­ance for a host of par­ent­ing con­cerns. His web­site, www.Ter­ri­ficPar­ent­, of­fers free par­ent­ing guid­ance and an email news­let­ter. Read­ers can learn more by re­view­ing past ar­ti­cles found on the web­sites of The Sarato­gian, The Record and The Com­mu­nity News. Sub­mit ques­tions to DrRandyCal­[email protected]

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