14 Comments

  1. In the book “The Millionaire Next Door”, this scenario is played over and over again, with wealthy parents giving their children (well into adulthood) money to support the lifestyle they had when they loved at home with mom and dad. Almost always to the child’s detriment, of course, because they don’t need to support themselves if mommy and daddy do it for them.

  2. As someone who has a kid to spoil (which I worry about a lot), I have to say limits and structure are good.
    My kid has a lot of tantrums, but she knows they don’t work as a means of getting her way. I think she just doesn’t know what else to do with her emotions yet. She’ll look at me sometimes, and know I’m going to say no, and do something just to get the reaction. It’s the attention she wants. If I’m not saying no and setting limits, I’m sort of telling her not just that what she does doesn’t matter, but that SHE doesn’t matter.

    • That’s an incredible way to look at it. And I think a lot of my students felt the same way – they just couldn’t quite articulate themselves. They seemed to sense that having been told no was incredibly frustrating when it happened, but it helped guide them to a purpose or learn something about themselves eventually.

  3. I remember reading the Outsiders in Middle School, and it drove me crazy. I remember thinking from the first chapter that the story should stop before it even started (Hinton does a nice job with foreshadowing, and I didn’t like it when characters did illogical things).

    I think that being told no when you are young is the only way that its possible to stand up for what is right when you are older (unless you pick it up somewhere else along the line). I also think its critical for parents to explain their reason for saying no though I would advise against attempting to use logic in the face of either toddler or teenage rage.

    • Not a parent, but from working with teens for the better part of a decade, I completely agree that they “why” piece is really important for teens to hear. It doesn’t always sink in right away (does it ever for anyone?!), but it’s crucial.

  4. It’s interesting that the high school students assume that “not being said no” and “being spoiled” are the same, and equate to “having everything that you want”. Clearly, in the example, the kid did not have everything that he wanted. He wanted a “no” and never got it.
    I think it’s easy for people to assume that “silver spoon fed” kids don’t have struggles of their own. I’d love to see people’s opinions on this.

    • That’s the ultimate conclusion that they arrive at by the end of the novel – the greasers and the Socs face the same problems from the opposite sides of town. Or at least, that’s what I anticipate happening tomorrow! What’s even more interesting to me is that many of my students come from affluent families. It’s hard for 12-year-olds to be too critical or introspective of them own lives, but I hope this at least gives them pause.

  5. All the student comments are great, but I especially love the next-to-last one. Very, very insightful!

    Sigh. Yes, I think this principle has come into play in my life. In particular, I don’t think I quite appreciated what an amazing gift it was for my parents to pay for my college education, and I wish I had taken better advantage of opportunities like internships and that sort of thing during that time. I like to say that if I had college to do over again, I would do it SO WELL, haha. And I bet if I had had to struggle and pay my own way through college, I would have had quite a different perspective on it.

  6. I think learning to hear and say “no” is absolutely essential to the formation of character. Not whether you have it or not but what shape yours will take. I think it’s incredibly damaging for kids (like dogs!) not to ever learn what a firm boundary looks like, whether rich or poor. They just act out the lack of boundaries in their own ways. :/

    We have a lot of conversations about this, as parents and as adult children, because it’s critical to establishing our own boundaries in our relationships with others.

  7. I agree with S.E. Hinton’s point. “No” is powerful and allows for certain limitations and the concept of not running rampant on ideas & actions. If you are told “no,” you may have to use creativity & problem solving to overcome that “no.” I think when you are put into a position of getting told “no” you develop new connections, skillsets and motivation that you may not have discovered before. Or sometimes, when you are told “no” you may take a step back & realize that it was all for the best possible outcome, that someone was looking out for you (I remember getting told “no” in certain instances by my parents & the outcome of what unfolded turned out to be 10x better – parental intuition)!

    This post/development on this Outsiders’ quote reminds me of this article I read in Bloomberg BusinessWeek: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-01/how-the-superwealthy-plan-to-make-sure-their-kids-stay-superwealthy

    I was perplexed by a lot of this article, but the one segment that definitely stood out: “‘Just as much work goes into these kids that have money coming their way as kids that don’t,’ she says. ‘The psychological component is huge: How do they mix with their friends? Do they only hang out with kids who have money?’ Most of all, she’s tried to explain that with wealth comes responsibility.”

    What are the implications of a kid/teenager inheriting this wealth without knowledge? How do their parents provide boundaries, limitations? I could see how this could become problematic. I think your students have caught on to that as well at a young age!

  8. I think the main word my dad knew when I was growing up was “no.” And it definitely had a positive impact on me. He made me earn things.

    It seems to me that history has a lot more examples of people excelling after they were told “no” than people just falling into success… and they’re the examples that our society seems to hold in higher regard too.

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