What Is Love?
A (slightly edited) letter by Carrie Geshus in the May 1st issue of reason magazine:
Extreme paternalism, over-protectiveness, giving in to a loved one’s every desire are simply shortcuts and not expressions of real love. It is much easier to give little Johnny a trophy after he loses a baseball tournament than it is to watch him sulk and cry for an afternoon. But allowing him to learn that many of life’s endeavours naturally come with failure will impart a lesson that strengthens him for a lifetime, while the sorrows of specific failures are long forgotten. Falsely bolstering self-esteem with endless coddling does nothing but create individuals who stare across the threshold of adulthood, terrified and without a clue how to stand on their own. I would hardly call that love.
Children need the chance to learn that failure is not the end of the world, that failure does not mean that they are a failure, that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. Current parenting and educational practices which ensure that no one ever fails, while comfortable for parents and teachers, set children up for such abject misery in the long run that they amount to child abuse.