Jay Rifenbary

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Our Spoiling Society – A Detriment to Healthy Character

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What happens when we spoil a child, when we give them things they have not earned? Two definitions for spoil are, “diminish or destroy the value or quality”, and “harm the character of (a child) by being too lenient or indulgent”. Generationally it has been well known that spoiling a child does little to enhance their self-respect. It also breeds a sense of entitlement, which has become rampant in many aspects of our society. A sense of entitlement diminishes one’s desire to put forth effort to achieve, because effort is not needed if one is already expecting what they have not earned. Does anyone reading this genuinely believe they are owed, and if so, by whom? When someone is given something they did not earn, the value of what is given becomes much less significant in the recipients mind. When we as individuals do not act upon the values that frame who we are, our own sense of self-respect is detrimentally impacted as well. Why would we take pride in something we have not earned? Why would we take pride in our selves if we have not earned who we are?

Each day is an opportunity to build upon who we are by acting on the values that form the foundation of our character. Then why do we continue to over indulge our youth with stuff, and many in our workforce with false expectations of what they deserve or have earned? Both answers revolve around the ease to which we satisfy the demands of others. In regard to our children, it is much easier to bow down to the “everyone else is doing it”, or “everyone else has one” acceptance attitude then it is to take the time and effort to instill in our children the value of earning what they want. The lessons taught to our children by “working in the trenches” build discipline, character and self-respect. The largest benefit to a child is the understanding that it will be their efforts that create the life they want, personal responsibility, and not the responsibility of some other entity. In regard to workers, it is much easier to maintain control and power over a workforce by promising benefits and pay increases without accountability and performance standards, then it is to reward based on measured accomplishment and improvement. Look around to see the negative impact that entitlement patterned industries have had on quality of performance, value of product, fiscal responsibility, motivated employees, and industry sustainability.

As the above definition states, it destroys value and diminishes character. I believe it further destroys social values and diminishes a society’s character. A recent example of how value is diminished by the perception of one not earning what they have received is the recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize. Regardless whether one agrees or disagrees with the deserving nature of the recipient, the non-analytical process, shallow adherence to criteria, and political influence within the process has significantly diminished the value and credibility of that award.

Personally, it disappoints me that an award so historically prestigious many years ago has in recent years become a political piece of candy to sweeten the world’s perception of a politician. I also believe a candidate who for years has sacrificed their very life in the pursuit of equality and human rights among Afgan women would better qualify under the criteria of earning such a regarded award. When the bar for defined achievement is lowered in any area of expected performance the value and credibility of the achievement is degraded. An example of this would be lowering performance standards to accommodate lower performing individuals. What message does that send our children? Do not work as hard because the system will adapt to you? Two steps in assisting a child’s understanding of the value of effort is one, have them feel the sense of accomplishment by achieving a task based on their effort alone, and two instill in them an understanding that personal effort builds strong character, increases self-respect and reinforces the values they espouse too. One is much happier and fulfilled in life when they have generated a sense of purpose and accomplishment on their own. Seize The Day!



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