Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Our Spoiling Society – A Detriment to Healthy Character


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!

The Relationship Factor – 'How’s that workin' for you?'


For those of us who are married, have been married, or are married again, I thought I would share some insight into the relationship equation. Why are we attracted to another individual beyond the sexual or physical quotient that may result in marriage? Is it their personality, wit, self-confidence, intelligence, and/or charisma? Maybe it is a belief, as portrayed in the film Jerry Mcquire, that “You….You complete me.”, or “You had me at hello.”. Gag me! In any relationship the other may compliment who you are and your character traits, but the only person who completes you is you. A solid understanding of your core values and the implementation of those values are the foundations for a complete sense of self.

In regard to whom we marry, you will discover the majority of people who marry young tend to marry an opposite. The primary reason is not they complete us, but a subconscious belief they can fill voids in our self-perceived character flaws. Where do these perceived flaws originate? Welcome into the equation, our parents. The primary reason we marry an opposite is because growing up we are usually told everything we are what? NOT. Why don’t you study more? How come you are not more creative? Why can’t you be more extroverted? Why don’t you like the outdoors? Why aren’t you more like your brother? So by the time you leave the house and venture out on your own, you have a pretty good idea of everything you are NOT. The question is, do we embrace that knowledge and grow from it, or allow it to negatively impact our self-respect and self-worth? Most young adults are too immature to understand that a lack of certain parental dictated positive characteristics is not a fault of who they are as potential valuable human beings. It is perceived however, that if someone comes into one’s life that fills the voids in their self-perceived weaknesses, that person will make them whole. As a result, when we meet someone who is everything we are not, we believe this is the perfect match. I don’t study, you do. I am not creative, you are. You are extraverted and I’m introverted. I hate the outdoors, you love to camp. You are just like my brother. This is a match made in heaven. Well, maybe not.

Enter another relationship “danger zone”, when as an individual we mature and with time become more accepting of who we are, rather than who we are not. Subsequently, everything we are may become more attractive than everything we are not. Bye! However, the desire to be attached to someone like you can also have negative ramifications. You may have much in common, but if the value base of the relationship is not in alignment, it will hinder the longevity of the relationship. Why? Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who does not reinforce the core values you believe to be important?

The key to maintaining any relationship, whether one compliments who you are or fills the gaps in what you think you are not, is a unified and congruent understanding of the core values of the parties involved. Our priorities for our children, how we view the world, how we communicate our decisions, our faith, and what principles we collectively honor are a few common values that solidify a relationship. All relationships go through trials, tribulations, and transitions, but it is and will be the synergy and strength of commitment to a couple’s core values that will help them persevere through the tuff times. It is my recommendation that the beginning of any new relationship begin with a discussion of those values that are important to both individuals. Core values are the framework, trust is the glue, and mutual respect is the end product of a healthy relationship. By the way, have fun as well.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

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