When I was a kid I was a very mediocre athlete. The problem was that I loved sports more than anything, so I learned at a very young age that losing was not only possible, but in my case, probable.
I wasn’t the greatest student, either. I had the attention span of a dog when a squirrel runs past. What I did have was two incredible parents who taught me how to lose.
The youth of today have lost that skill.
A few years back I caught a girl writing in her textbook during class. When I called home, the mother argued with me that her daughter would never do such a thing and that I didn’t really see what I thought I saw.
Another time I called home to talk to the parent of a boy who had the answers under his desk during a quiz. Again, the parent told me I was mistaken in what I had seen and that I needed to let his son take the test over again.
There was no way that he was going to let his child fail. The problem was that he already had.
Without being held accountable, without being allowed to struggle, there is no motivation to get better. When we fight our kid’s battles, that child never learns how to overcome the hard stuff.
My parents taught me that when I failed in school, it was nobody’s fault but my own, and then they expected me to work hard to make sure I didn’t fail again.
They didn’t accept failure, but they didn’t make excuses for it, either. I learned how to struggle and fight my way through the tough stuff.
In sports my dad taught me that I needed to lose with dignity and win with grace. I was not allowed to hang my head in defeat or blame others for the loss.
Just as important was knowing how to win. There was nothing wrong with celebrating success, but there was no way I was allowed to rub anyone’s face in it.
This election has shown me that we have raised a generation that struggles with both winning and losing. I have seen many conservatives posting mean-spirited cartoons, mocking those who have lost.
It is lacking in class and, to be quite honest, pathetic. I watch the news and see students blocking freeways and vandalizing because they were never taught how to lose. It is also without class and, to be quite honest, pathetic.
I am not a parent. But in my 23 years of teaching, I have had the privilege of working with well over 5,000 kids. Without a doubt, the most successful students are the ones whose parents have held them accountable.
These are students who were allowed to fail, but also taught how to overcome it. Losing is never fun, but unfortunately, in this life it is inevitable.
How we act in response to losing, and what we do as a result of it, will determine how successful we will be in the future. Let’s be sure to teach our kids that lesson.