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American Idol and the Anti-Competition Crowd

Connecticut parents: the world is a competitive place.

I’m generally soft-hearted.  I treat all of our students with kindness and gentleness, particularly if those that are stressed about school. Kindness, however, involves teaching children about the world “as it is.”  Competition is part of reality.

The first round of American Idol provides a glimpse at the lunacy of the anti-competition movement.

Many of the would-be idols believe that they are excellent singers. Why? In most cases, they have been accompanied by a parent who has been building a great deal of false confidence in their child.

I’m all for supportive parenting. And while I’m delighted that Guilford, CT’s  Nick Fradiani won American Idol, I’m hopeful that his success has not created false hope for Guilford High School students!

If you have been encouraging your child to enter a competitive stage such as an audition to become a national pop idol, then you ought to prepare them by putting them in some local talent shows or try-outs for musicals before you put them before a television audience.

Even worse, many of these young singers have not done the work necessary to develop their talent. But, they believe they are good – usually because of parent provided delusional encouragement. Then these poor kids come before Simon or whoever is the current mean judge and learn the truth. Their self-esteem bubble – filled with hot air – bursts.

In our work, we occasionally meet with students who have never been taught the realities of a competitive landscape.

Many are not particularly hard workers. They have some sense of entitlement because their parents have convinced them that the world will think they are as special as their parents do.

To be clear, make your kids understand that you have unconditional love for them and that they are special to you.

They should also believe that they should strive to be and do whatever they want.

But, they are not entitled. The world will not automatically think they are great.

They have to earn it.

When we meet a 16 year old who has attended schools where competition has been nearly eliminated, we’ll sometimes hear that the student wants to attend an Ivy-league school such as Penn or Dartmouth. They usually have no sense that these places, like most desirable things, are highly competitive.

We love to help our Shoreline and Southeastern, CT students through counseling, tutoring, and test prep. But, we sometimes have to initially break the news that the world “is what it is” and that they ought to prepare accordingly.