The commencement speech from David McCullough Jr. has caused quite a stir online in the past week.
“You are not special” has become the viral sequel to Mary Schmich’s 1997 graduation advice “Wear sunscreen.”
In his speech McCullough warns a generation to stop feeling entitled,
Who does he blame? The parents.
As much as McCullough is talking to the students, he makes a beeline for the parents in a terrific blast:
“Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored.
You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet.
And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community…”
If you look in amazement at the youth of today and their expectations of instant gratification, you are the one to stop it. Kids sprout that “I’m special” attitude because their parents baked it into them.
Stop giving your kids everything they want. Learn to say no. Let them feel heartbreak.
Don’t do their homework for them. Let them learn. Let them try. Let them fail.
Stop redshirting kindergarten thinking a bigger kid is a smarter kid. If you were old enough for Grade 1 at 6, so is your son. Heck, I was 5 when I entered Grade 1, and my youngest will be too. I’m trying to challenge my son, not make life easier.
While you’re at it, stop having grad ceremonies when kids finish kindergarten. I know 5 yr olds in cap and gown is cute, but let’s realize they have at least a full 12 years of school left.
When parents are calling universities and employers to try and get their kids into schools or a job, we’re not creating a generation that can do it on their own.
If you’re on board with David McCullough‘s speech to the grads, as I am, then you have to hear it as a rallying cry for parents, and not just as a challenge to students.
Our kids are special, but so is every other kid out there. We all get our turn in the spotlight, and until we let our children know the opposite of winning is losing, and let them experience both, we’re failing.
Here’s his entire speech:
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