Curtis Dahlgren
Extreme Self-esteem U: 'Kwitcherwhinin,' you over-educated snowflakes!
By Curtis Dahlgren
February 25, 2019

"It's typical for kids [these days] to wear tee-shirts that say things like YOU CAN'T SPELL 'AWESOME' WITHOUT 'ME'!" – Deborah Skolink (Parentsmagazine, 3/17)

"I recently visited a third-grade classroom and the teacher asked the students to each write down five words that described their awesomeness." – Leonard Sax, ibid (author of "How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups")

HE SAYS THEY WROTE WORDS SUCH AS "GEENIUS." Until yesterday I couldn't decide on a topic for this week's column. Then I pulled it out a strange place. A waste basket at the laundromat (the sun don't shine there either). The topic was right there in the cover-story of that pitched-out magazine: "A modest proposal; it's high time we taught our confident kids a little humility"! Paradoxically, when those "confident" kids get to college, they are anything but confident; they stop up their ears at any opinion that is a counter-weight to their geenius; and they can be "offended" by anything. Maybe the whole idea of the selfie movement was to turn kids off to the older tried and true values (such as "not easily provoked").

HUMILITY. That word rooted in the dirt ("humus"). That word related to "morality" – as in "what's 'morality' mean?" Skolink says "Humility has always been a key virtue that religions teach – but fewer children than ever are having their character shaped by faith." And, I might add, virtually none of them live on a farm and thus are unfamiliar with things such as manure, humus, or dirt (or even humor, which may be related too).

My dad "only had an eighth-grade, one-room, country education" ('course when I graduated from 8th grade I had a 12th-grade equivalency education). I had to wait a few years for the city kids to catch up. I'm being partly facetious, but if you can read really well, you can read a test faster, so your scores on tests are better in all subjects – and we were taught how to read phonetically in the six weeks of kindergarten we had. Like all business at home, it was all business (no finger painting). And if one deserved to be disciplined on your very first morning in kindergarten, the teacher wasn't shy about that either! We never got that assignment, "Write down 5 words that describe your awesomeness"! And on occasion, our own mothers would say "KwitcherwhiningorI'llgiveyousomethingtowhineabout."

"Kids now receive praise for ordinary efforts, so they're confused about what they're actually good at. Kids have lost their ability to assess their gifts and how they can use them for the good of others and the world." – Amy McCready, author of "The 'ME ME ME' Epidemic": A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World" And the media, social or non-social, don't help either. McCready says:

"Main characters say smart-aleky things, followed by a big laugh track, and the adult authority figures are portrayed as bumbling idiots." Personally, I was surprised to learn that the self-esteem movement went all the say back to 1969 ("The Psychology of Self-Esteem" by Nathaniel Branden). The Parents magazine article author lists seven or so solutions to the "self-esteem paradox":

- Be humble yourself.

- Stress good manners, including in competition.

- Let everyone take turns talking at the supper table [if you still have one at night], teaching kids not to dominate conversations later.

- Keep an eye on those screens, TV or others. And my favorite (especially for the city kids):

- Give your children chores ("Even a 3- or 4-year-old can do some dusting").

I can still remember the first chore my dad gave me at the age of four. I had to put a handful of salt between each two cows in the stanchions. I still think salt is a needed ingredient in our own diets, but anyway – regarding "first times," I can also remember the first time I really really believed in God. It was also about the age of four. I told my mom that I had a nightmare, and she told me that if I remembered to say my prayers, I wouldn't have bad dreams. And she was right.

PPS: To finish on a positive note, a few quotes:

God dreamed – the suns sprang flaming into place,

And sailing worlds with many a venturous race.

He woke – His smile alone illumined space.

- Ambrose Bierce

"Stones and trees speak slowly and may take a week to get out a single sentence, and there are few men, unfortunately, with the patience to wait for an oak to finish a thought." – Garrison Keillor (believe it or not)

"If one looks long enough at almost anything, looks with absolute attention, at a flower, a stone, the bark of a tree, grass, snow, a cloud, something like revelation takes place." – Mary Saxton (?)

All three quotes from "The Voice of Creation" by Thomas Kinkade (Harvest House publishers, 2002, compiled from "Simpler Times," 1996). I don't think they were saying the gay 90s were the "simpler times," but anyway, we ought to keep talking about Intelligent Design before it becomes ILLEGAL. More to come.

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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