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The Disadvantage of being given an Advantage

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The Disadvantage of being given an Advantage

PipSqueak’s birthday is at the end of August, so she’s on the cut-off line for what year she will start school. Some parents prefer to hold their child back a year, so they are not the youngest kid in their class. Being the oldest, and therefore biggest, kid in the class will give any child the advantage in sports (if sports are important to you). Considering PipSqueak is rather small for her age, I can see holding her back just so she’s not way smaller than all her classmates. It is lame to always be the last one picked for the team, or the one who is targeted in games like “Red Rover” or  “dodgeball.”

But I was the youngest person in my class, so I got to finish high school an entire year before anyone else my age. Talk about an advantage! My senior year of high school, I took some classes at the community college. I remember one classmate saying, “What? You’re only 16? How are you in this class?” She felt pretty dumb to be 19 years old and discover she’s only as smart as a 16 year old.

Any good parent should want to give their child every advantage possible, right? Maybe so, if you believe your child was born with an unfair disadvantage, and somehow missed the memo: life isn’t fair. Apparently people do believe life is a giant competition, full of comparisons, and it’s my roll as a parent to make sure my kid always wins.

The idea we need to help our kids have some sort of advantage in life, is like saying: my kid isn’t going to win this race unless he gets a head start. Which is essentially saying, my kid isn’t as good as everyone else, can’t succeed on their own, and needs help. A parent with that attitude kills their child’s self-esteem. But lets say this kid is given a head-start and he wins the race. Yeah! His parents are proud, but deep down, they all know he only won because he was given an advantage over the competitors. Secretly, he feels like a looser, because he doesn’t know if I could win a “fair” race.

Acting like your kids need or deserve to have an “advantage” leads to them having an entitlement mentality: “I deserve to have everything handed to me on a silver platter, because I can’t do it on my own. I need you do help me.” Welcome to the real world, kid, sorry no one prepared you for real life. If you ask me, giving that kid “every advantage possible” actually gave him a huge disadvantage!

So who has the real “advantage” in life? There’s a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the immediate advantage vs the long-term advantages. Life isn’t fair, but everyone has their own advantages and disadvantages, much like choosing which leader you want to be in the game of “Civilization.”

How do you ensure the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? What really matters in life? Do you need to be the biggest, oldest, smartest person? There will always be someone else who is bigger, older, or smarter than you. If you constantly compare yourself to other people, you will always fall short in one way or another. I believe, size, age, and appearance are of little importance compared to character and personality.

What are some things which will give you a real “advantage” in life? Tenacity, persistence, commitment, consistency, faithfulness, learning to get back up when you fall down, persevering through adversity, overcoming obstacles, being confident in who you are, rather than trying to change yourself to win the approval of others, or comparing yourself to others and trying to out-do them.

So who do you compare yourself to? The answer may be surprising: Yourself! Are you a better person now than you were a year ago? Have you grown, changed, learned, improved? Hopefully the answer is YES! Are you becoming the best version of yourself, you could possibly be? 

In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” And let your kid be themselves too!

Becky
Becky
Becky is wife to Duane, mama to "Monkey-girl" and baby "Lioness" aka "PipSqueek." She is the administrative powerhouse for YWAM Bend and keeps our team grounded and organized. Her hope is to inspire and encourage other mamas in their journey to raise healthy, thriving families.
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