I enjoyed watching the YouTube video “Simon Sinek on Millenials in the Workplace,” and I agree with the majority of what Simon Sinek says, especially the dangers associated with the instant gratification that technology brings, the addictive effects of social media, and the need to work diligently, give it time, and cultivate patience in order to make an impact and achieve dreams. But I have reservations about the way he talks about the negative effects of a gentler kind of parenting. I think that the criticism of soft parenting — and the alleged sense of entitlement is creates — is an idea that, by being repeated over and over again, is gaining ground, and that although it sounds right, in my opinion, is a superficial and rushed diagnostic that diminishes the importance of gentleness and praise, especially the gentleness and praise that must come from parents.
We live in a extremely competitive world where people are put down all the time, and I think that all parents should find effective ways of enhancing their children’s self-esteem, while taming excessive competitiveness and fostering cooperation. We are a culture obsessed with winning — at all costs if necessary. In this video, Simon Sinek points out that the corporate environment is extremely competitive and that the leadership is bad. Well, parenting that over-emphasizes competition, comparison, and criticism has a lot to do with bad leadership. When kids who experience this kind of parenting grow up they become the bosses and parents we don’t want, the ones who squash self-esteem, and provide very little positive reinforcement and support. They perpetuate the existence of the violent world we abhor. Therefore, if we want less competition and more cooperation, if we want healthier working environments, then generous parenting is extremely important, otherwise we will be parenting for the perpetuation of same undesired world, and creating more of the leaders we don’t want.
Many people, when they reach positions of power, instead of changing the errors of the past, simply repeat them: “I suffered and now it’s your turn; I will make you suffer. I was miserable, now it’s my turn of making lives miserable. I was oppressed and exploited, and now it’s my turn to oppress and exploit others, and benefit from it.” They don’t realize that they are now in positions where they can bring about positive changes. It would be wonderful if they realized that “This is the way it was, the way it was, but it’s not the way it should or has to be. Things can be changed, and I will bring about change for the better. I suffered, but I don’t need to continue the same pattern and inflict suffering on others. These injustices stop here, and I will do my part in bringing about positive change.” It should not be because someone was treated badly — or because this is the common way people are treated — that he or she, when reaching positions of power, should continue perpetuating the same erroneous trend of treating other people badly.
The reality is that parents, as a rule, criticize much more than they praise. The majority of parents are ready to point out their children’s weaknesses and failures, and by doing so, they instill in them a sentiment that they are not good enough. How many times have you heard parents criticizing their children and putting them down? Spoken and unspoken messages such as “You are a loser. You are good for nothing.” are not uncommon. It seems that only when their children are doing something bad, parents take notice and have something to say. When they do good things, parents usually say nothing. It is as if children are just doing what is expected of them. Good deeds go by unnoticed. Well, it shouldn’t be this way.
My advice? Love your children wastefully, and say “I love you” a lot. Catch them doing good, and say something. Praises such as, “Good job! You are smart! You are unique!” go a long way in building confidence and self-esteem.
Be the best and most supporting boss you can be, and treat the people you lead as you would like to be treated if you were in their positions.
“Do you want to know what makes us different? It’s that my parents always hugged me a lot.” ~ Patrick Bensadoun
There is always virtue in the middle. Criticism and punishment only will not do it. Praise and rewarding only will not do it either. Too much undeserved criticism and too little deserved praise is bad. On the other hand, too much undeserved praise and too little deserved criticism is also bad. Choose the middle way. Gentle criticism when warranted, and honest praise when deserved, is the way to go. Wise use of both is what is needed: calm criticism that does not put the child down, and sincere praise that does not inflate the child’s ego, gives her an unrealistic perception of who she is, and instills in her a sense of entitlement. But, if we have to choose, let us be generous in our approval and applause, and parsimonious in our censure and condemnation. Let us err in favor of praise!
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Piero Falci is the founder of the Silent Peace Walk movement. He is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer and inspirer who encourages people to live lives that matter. He is a promoter of peace who believes that Heaven is here, if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation and mindful living.