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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Is there a benefit to telling a kid they can be or do anything they want off of their efforts alone or does it do them a disservice?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26834points) November 5th, 2010

Where is the benefit to tell a kid they can be anything they want if they work hard enough? What about those goals or endeavors that take the blessing or involvement of others to complete? If a kid is legally blind and can barely see 4ft in front of them how could they be a NASCAR driver, pilot, champion ping pong player, etc when you need to see well to do those things? If the child has actual physical deficiencies that can not be counterbalanced with simple hard work and effort is that not applying or setting up unrealistic expectations in a child? Would it not be better to give it to them straight that some things are outside of their control and need the participation of others to work?

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14 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

Hard work and effort can get you appointed to things. Hard work includes negotiation, networking and effort. People do not get appointed to things by luck. There’s a saying, “Reach for the stars, hit the ceiling.”

As for limitations, people figure those out on their own. Or not

Are you suggesting that it’s kinder to say, “Why are you trying to do that? You’ll never make it. Don’t bother trying.”

Mikewlf337's avatar

I see it as a way to set them up for disappointment because in reality you can’t be anything you want to be. Life doesn’t work out the way you want it to all the time.

marinelife's avatar

How do you know what that kid could accomplish if you didn’t limit his thinking? Perhaps he would invent a robot-driven car that he could ride in.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Children should be supported to pursue their dreams. Having an adult tell them that it will never happen for whatever reason they believe is more detrimental than encouraging them. Most will reach a point where they recognize that it is a pipe dream. Usually though, they come to their own conclusion based upon limitations. In the meantime, they may find a niche in the same field that is better suited for their personality or physical limitations.

Mikewlf337's avatar

telling a person that it will never happen is bad but it is unrealistic to tell them that they can be anything. No person can be anything.

YARNLADY's avatar

It is very unrealistic. I made the mistake of telling my son that, and he had the physical and mental ability to do most anything, but now he just sits back and expects things to happen for him without any effort on his part. He just tuned out the part about if you work hard.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@YARNLADY I don’t think your words were unrealistic or a mistake. Your son chose to take the path that he currently leads. You may be a mother, but that doesn’t mean that your children will always follow your advice no matter how right it is.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I think the way most people present it is unrealistic. It’s better it be a serious talk to where the kid understands passion and talent also need application and diligence. In line with what @YARNLADY wrote, I’ve seen so many people who expected because they were really “into” something that it would magically transform into what they wanted as far as a career.

KhiaKarma's avatar

The most powerful thing my caregivers told me was “You can do anything that you set your mind to” We had lengthy conversations about what “set your mind to” meant. Hard work and perserverence….always trying your hardest. There are plenty of people in the world who will tell then they can’t. Their home should be there safety zone where they hear “you can”. I would often test their tolerance with their support and would throw out strange and obscure ideas on what I wanted to be, but they never judged me and said I couldn’t. That is what stuck with me the most. They believed I could- That said, they urged me to think about how I would make it work. (That helped me to develop goal setting skills and critical thinking)

I agree with @BarnacleBill that people figure out limitations on their own- the limitations don’t need to come from the caregivers.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Neizvestnaya I agree that there should be more than a blanket statement of “you can do anything” or “you’ll never be able to achieve that because…”. Parents can be subjective as well as limited to realizing what options are out there.

My SO’s 16 year old nephew wants more than anything to be an airline pilot. Due to some slight visual disability, he will never become one by today’s standards. His parents are encouraging him to look into other fields. We’ve had discussions about other opportunities in the aeronotics arena. For all we know, he could end up in a completely different field, but the possibilities for something he is passionate about should be explored, even if it doesn’t result in being a pilot.

Trillian's avatar

Limitations are not neccessarily limiting. Ask Stephen Hawking.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@KhiaKarma Their home should be there safety zone where they hear “you can”. I would often test their tolerance with their support and would throw out strange and obscure ideas on what I wanted to be, but they never judged me and said I couldn’t. I heard that growing up and I pretty much seen it as ”I don’t know so I will say you can do anything”. I would rather have had the straight dope which I knew anyhow, otherwise it is like having your parents “what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?” Everyone knew the toys were coming from a Sears and Roebucks cataloge. To have your parents tell you that you can do anything you want when you know you can’t be CEO of Shell Oil, IBM, or Time/Warner, etc just because you worked hard as if there were no one who had to promote you in, or share holders to vote you in is close to dumbing me down as if I was not intelligent enough to handle the truth.

BarnacleBill's avatar

For most kids, they want to be something but they don’t want to put the work or effort in that it takes to make that happen. As a case in point, my daughter’s friend graduated from college with a sociology degree, and decided that she wanted to go into a trade instead of more schooling. She decided that she wanted to be an electrician. She applied for an apprenticeship, and she got turned down – 5 times. Her father told her to give it up, because a female would never get hired as an electrician apprentice. Instead, she went to several electricians in town and asked what they thought she should do to improve her chances. One suggested taking some basic community college trade classes. She did that, and taking a page from the “college experience,” she arranged an unpaid position as a helper for an electrician, as if it were a summer internship. She waited tables at night to pay her bills.

Guess who started as an electrician apprentice last week?

I think very often people like the idea of being something, but when the reality shows up in overalls and looks like work, they give up because they want it to be easy.

My great-grandfather was illiterate. My grandfather read at a third grade level. My uncle was CEO of a division of a Fortune 100 company. His son, who went to a state university and had to be browbeaten into not dropping out to work at Radio Shack, made his first million dollars without any help from his father at age 26.

My best friend went to law school; his brother works on a loading dock. His brother’s daughter has a PhD in psychology. Her brother is a high school drop-out, and works manual labor. My friend paid for his niece’s undergrad education, and would have paid for his nephew’s. At one point, the nephew wanted to be a herpetologist and work at a zoo, but his friends convinced him that studying wasn’t worth giving up time playing video games and hanging out.

KhiaKarma's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central you forgot the rest of what I typed: That said, they urged me to think about how I would make it work. (That helped me to develop goal setting skills and critical thinking) how were they to know the “straight dope”? And if you already knew it, why would they need to be the ones to tell you?

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