Parenting: Q & A with Dr. Jim

November 18th, 2010

By Dr. Jim Taylor

Not long ago, I was posed four questions by a parenting magazine that I thought readers of Kids & Culture Alert! would find interesting.

I’m afraid that I’ve turned my kids into “reward junkies” by praising, rewarding, and buying them gift constantly. I thought this would show them how much I love them and help them feel good about themselves. But now they don’t seem to feel good about themselves if I don’t reward them all the time. How do I handle their current expectations while changing to the right approach?

The best, and most difficult, way is cold turkey, where you just stop rewarding them excessively and inappropriately. Before you start, you want to sit down and explain the changes you are going to make with them and why. Show empathy for how difficult it will be and make sure they understand why you are doing it (because it’s in their long-term best interests).  I should warn you that this can be really painful for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Kids can put up quite a fight for what they believe they deserve (i.e., what you’ve trained them to expect). Your kids have been spoiled and there is nothing more frustrating than losing something that they once had in abundance. In all cases, though, when parents followed through, the kids learned over time that the situation wasn’t going to change and they accepted it.

You must be truly resolute in your commitment to breaking their “addiction.” It is easy to give in to nagging and temper tantrums, but then they win the battle, but lose the war.

All four of my kids are in sports all year around, and this year, they’ve been getting more and more competitive. Usually I’d say that’s a good thing, but recently, the losses their teams have been experiencing have really been getting to them. They get really angry and upset, and they can sulk for days. How do I get them to appreciate winning and losing while not forgetting the “love of the game?”

It’s natural for kids to be disappointed when they don’t win, but it shouldn’t be devastating. When that happens, you must really examine why they are reacting so intensely. I start by asking parents what messages they are sending to their children. The reality is that kids typically learn about how to react to sports from their parents. Are you overly invested in your children’s sports? Do you care too much? Also, look at how the coaches react and what they emphasize in their coaching, for example, hard work and good sports or winning at all cost. Our culture also sends horrible messages to kids about competition, winning, and losing. The expectations that are placed on kids by parents, coaches, and society can be crushing. I encourage parents to go under the assumption that their children will never be very good at any sport (e.g., Division I college team, pros, Olympics); the statistics are 6 in 1,000,000 chances of making it to the pros. If parents have the right attitude about sports (e.g., it’s about fun, fitness, and life skills), the kids will most likely have the healthy attitude too. And with that healthy attitude, the bad feelings they experience following losses will not be that bad and will motivate them to work harder.

My 8-year-old girl is super-smart and takes initiative.  But she’s also bossy as hell and sometimes an annoying know-it-all.  How do I teach her a little humility so that she keeps wanting to learn and grow, and not be irritating to others?

Giftedness can be a burden as well as a gift for children. The problem is that giftedness only puts kids at the front of the line early on, but says little about what happens to them later in life. Yet success comes so easily to gifted children that they may not learn the essential life lessons for success, such as humility, later in life when giftedness becomes less important. The first thing you should do is ask how your daughter got to be so bossy and a know-it-all. In all likelihood, she got it from one of her parents or you encouraged her to be that way in some subtle way. Also, at age 8, she’s old enough for you to have a talk with her about how her behavior will hurt her in the long run and how humility and empathy can go a long way in life. You should “punish” her poor behavior with disapproval, so she can learn that it is not appreciated or acceptable. And you can offer her healthier ways of responding when she starts to “cop an attitude.” Ultimately though, she may have to be “hit over the head” (e.g., rejection by peers) by life to really learn that hard lesson.

I know I might sound a little old school as I say this but my wife and I believe that our culture really encourages girls to be overly concerned about appearances.  The onslaught of all kinds of media make it virtually impossible for my 2 daughters not to get caught up in it all.  What can I do to counteract this and help them find a deep-rooted healthy self-esteem that’s not driven by outward appearances?

As the father of two young girls, I am painfully aware of those awful messages from popular culture about appearance; it’s on TV and the Internet, in magazines, in the movies and music. In other words, it’s everywhere. Those messages directed to girls down into elementary school is that being beautiful, thin, and sexy (sassy is the codeword for sexy used by advertisers these days) should be their priorities. I see parents who allow their girls as young as five years old paint their finger- and toenails, play with make-up, have “spa dates,” and wear clothes that are, in my view, entirely inappropriate for that age (and I’m no prude).

The first thing to do is ask yourself what messages you’re communicating to your girls. Do you or your spouse read celebrity or fashion magazines? Do you tell your girls how pretty they look? Are you concerned with how they dress and what their hair looks like? If you have been seduced by those same messages, your girls are doomed.

My wife and I never discuss physical appearance or call our girls “cute” or “beautiful.” We avoid talk about our own appearances as well. We also discourage our extended family and friends from commenting on their appearance. People in the places like the supermarket make comments about our girls’ appearance, though well intended, they just don’t know the messages they are sending. When someone compliments our girls on their looks, we say “And they are good kids too.” If our girls ask how they look in an outfit, we ask them how they feel about it. The bottom line is that we avoid any discussion of appearance and focus on sending our girls value messages about the kind of people they are, for example, compassion, generosity, competence, hard work, etc.

There is no way to protect your girls from bad messages, but you can send messages to instill values that can reduce their impact. We believe that by ingraining healthy values in our girls, they won’t be as susceptible to the unhealthy messages from popular culture (they won’t care because we don’t care). It’s an uphill battle, but one that we as parents must win if we want our girls to come out relatively unscathed.

(This article was also posted at Dr. Jim Taylor’s Blog.)

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17 Responses to “Parenting: Q & A with Dr. Jim”

  1. Tom Carter |

    A couple of thoughts from one who is admittedly unqualified to comment:

    The bossy, annoying, know-it-all eight-year-old is obviously aware of the fact that she’s smarter than the other kids around her and probably many of the adults. On top of that, if she attends a public school she’s probably being encouraged to dumb-down so none of the other kids will realize that they aren’t brilliant. Could be that shutting her down might do more harm than good because, political correctness nothwithstanding, brilliant people are entitled to self-esteem, too. Maybe a little guidance on better manners, but I’d stop at that.

    I keep reading and hearing about how kids are dressing in inappropriate ways, but I really haven’t seen much of that. I see kids in malls in America and Europe, for example, and I don’t remember seeing anything that bad. The worst thing I’ve noticed is young teenaged boys wearing baggy pants, backwards baseball caps, and rapper sneers. Maybe I’m not paying attention, but it could also be that there may be a some hyper-sensitivity on the subject.

  2. larry ennis |

    Your last paragraph pretty much sum’s up the approach that has been the benchmark for raising kids for years. It is as you say, an up-hill battle. Have you yet reached the conclusion that society itself is the chief culprit we must over come. The effect of society isn’t new. I faced similar concerns with my daughter when she was a child. She is now in her mid forties. In her opinion, my efforts to protect her resulted in a negative effect on her life. My grand daughter has been raised to a totally different standard. One that I find questionable at best.
    I’ve neither the time or credentials to address each of the other issues you raise but a few comments based on my parenting years are in order.
    Many parents insist on reliving their own lives through their children. They try to instill in their children that which they themselves never had.
    Reward Junkies. I’m guilty big time and I can’t defend myself. I think you nailed it in your comments.
    Raising daughters. I have to differ with you on that one. To me, little girls will always be sugar and spice and all things nice. Young ladies should be told that they are pretty. Perhaps your idea, especially in today’s world, is the way to go but you still need to treat them like little girls. There is no chauvinist intent in what I’m saying.

  3. Brian |

    Have to agree with Tom on the 8 year old little girl. Teach her humility? What’s going to come through to those around her is false humility, and few things are more disgusting than false humility. I’d rather deal with hubris – someone with excessive pride may have an inflated sense of self, but at least they’re honest.

    Giftedness doesn’t pay later in life? When Bill Gates decided to pursue the programming tool called “.NET,” he hired the “ungifted” lead Java developer away from Sun Microsystems with a $1M sign-on bonus. But, we should really ask Brianna Aubin if giftedness pays when she has completed her Master’s degree in engineering in a few more weeks.

    So her “giftedness” makes things easy for her? I can only deduce that she’s bored and not learning to work hard at her studies because the school she attends isn’t meeting her academic needs.

    Teach her manners, and teach her why manners are every bit as important as her intellectual gift.

  4. Brianna |

    Brian – I’ll let you know if “giftedness” pays once I’ve found a job! And even then, I’d say that perseverance, dedication and inner strength (for lack of a better term) are far more important than raw intellectual firepower. At least, once that intellectual firepower reaches a basic level (120 IQ or so). After that, while an extra few IQ points do help, it is really other qualities that will make or break whether you succeed or fail in even the most intellectually demanding of positions. Few jobs require true geniuses; far more require someone who is willing to put in the effort it takes no matter the cost or the difficulties.

    Jim – telling your daughters they are pretty will not automatically make them desire to become sluts. The important thing is to put it in perspective. Point out that beauty is meaningless without character to back it up, and that it doesn’t necessarily resemble what they see on MTV. Also, did it occur to you that forbidding the subject entirely could end up backfiring? What if they chafe at your controls on the subject, only to run headlong into the other direction the first chance they get? Better to let them play with nail polish a bit when they’re younger than deal with rampant piercings and tattoos when they’re older because you forbade the subject of attractiveness entirely rather than teaching your girls taste when you had the chance.

  5. Tom Carter |

    Great points, Brianna. The term “gifted” usually refers to intelligence, and IQ is a strong measure of future success. That means that a young person with a high IQ has the potential to succeed at high levels in both academic and professional terms. Conversely, a person with an average IQ is even more clearly unlikely to make it as a nuclear physicist, a neurosurgeon, or a rocket scientist. The fact remains, however, that determination, ambition, judgment, and other personal factors can result in intelligent people failing in life and, to a lesser extent, average people succeeding beyond their potential. Current PC sensitivities downplay these facts, but research data over many years are very clear.

    As far as telling young girls they’re pretty, I agree that it can be overdone and tend to suppress other and more important qualities. It remains true, though, that young boys like to be told they’re strong, and young girls like to be told they’re pretty. Nothing wrong with that, as long as things are kept in perspective.

  6. d |

    For the first time,I totally disagree with you,Dr. Jim. Young girls must be told they are pretty or else they think they are not. When your own parents make you feel you aren’t pretty,you will rebelmightly,with the first creepy guy who tells you,you are beautiful. As a girl,I am qualified to say this. My boy was ,also told he was handsome,and strong and intelligent,as my girl was told she was cute,strong,brilliant,which she is,and he is. There is absolutely,nothing wrong with girls playing dress up,using nail polish or playing doctor or teacher. All just imagination. you are way too concerned about all of this. Yes, constant telling of beauty and thinness,is so wrong,as the media constantly does. But,if you do not tell your little girls they are cute and smart,they will not be well rounded,and guess what? Men,still pick their spouses and girlfriends from looks,first,brains last,sorry to burst your bubble. Do you want grandchildren? Or,do you want strong,brilliant girls,who are socially,outcast,because they believe they are unattractive? Then spend their lives,alone,in their brilliance.
    Yes,you are 100% right about the way young girls dress,way too revealing and too “sassy” for their ages,usually,but their moms and dads allow it, Some people are just,plain,stupid.

  7. d |

    The scary part is, I agree with Larry,on this one.:-0

  8. Brian |

    Brianna and Tom: well-said.

    I just want to add one other thing on “attractiveness.”

    It’s an important emotional need for many people that their spouse/partner be physically attractive. Now, what’s physically attractive to me may not be to someone else. I think my girlfriend is a goddess, though someone else might actually think she’s more trollish (trust me on this, she’s as far from being trollish as is possible ;^) ).

    In this case, what is important is that she is physically attractive to me, and I to her. Beauty is most assuredly in the eye of the beholder, but to utterly ignore our physical qualities is as bad of an idea as utterly ignoring our intellectual and emotional qualities.

    Is there something we might call “universally attractive”? Actually, there is, and the novelist Dan Brown pointed it out in “The Da Vinci Code.” The people and things that are generally universally attractive have physical proportions that comport with the mathematical constant Phi (pronounced “fee”), which is 1.618.

    For example, are your upper and lower halves in proportion to each other? Divide your height by 1.618, and that should give you the distance from the floor to your waist. If it doesn’t, you’re short-waisted or short-legged. It’s not a big deal because few people comport EXACTLY to Phi on anything, but the closer you are, the more “normal” you look.

    I don’t recall the study, but they’ve (whoever “they” are) applied the Phi constant to faces of actors and actresses. It should come as no great surprise that Denzel Washington and Catherine Zeta Jones, among others, have facial ratios that comport exactly to Phi.

    An example from nature (and one which Brown pointed out in his book) is the humble snail. If you measure the width of the outer spiral from a snail’s shell and multiply it by 1.618, you get the width of the outer part of the spiral PLUS the width of the 2nd spiral.

  9. Dr. Jim Taylor |

    @Tom: Interesting point. But I think you conflate self-esteem with arrogance, attitude, and, as you suggest, bad manners. My experience with kids like the one described is that their parents often told them how wonderful they are too many times, didn’t set limits, and may have been bossy themselves.

    As for girls dressing in a “sassy” way. I live the suburbs north of SF and I have to say that I am amazed at what parents let their girls wear these days (not all, of course, but a noticeable number) with short, tight shorts and “décolletage” for 14 years old. I’m no prude, but I find it pretty distasteful and inappropriate.

    @Larry: Yes, society is definitely the “chief culprit.” I wrote a book about popular culture and kids back in 2005 and my thesis was that popular culture sends kids the worst messages about values, which, in my view, are the foundation of all that we become. No, the effect of society isn’t new, but the volume is turned way up because of new technology and the “we care more about $$ than kids” mentality that has pervaded all parts of our society.

    As for girls being ” sugar and spice,” I sense your positive intention, but don’t really agree. I want to raise my girls to be confident and competent PEOPLE. See my response to Brianna below for more on this.

    @Brian: What about real humility? I find the most interesting and wonderful people are those who are both incredibly talented and humble. Not false humility, but a real appreciation for their gifts and hard work, and real security so there is no need for bluster and attitude.

    See my response to Brianna about giftedness below.

    @Brianna: Ah, Brianna, are you suggesting that you are gifted?!?! You are correct about giftedness not being that important. In fact, the research is clear that so-called giftedness loses it predictive value re: success the more time someone is involved in an activity. You should read the work of Dr. Anders Ericsson who has shown that innate ability was unnecessary to predict who became an “expert” and that the single greater predictor was the number of hours they put in. And the average IQ of CEOs of companies isn’t nearly at Mensa level. BTW, average IQ is 90-110. 120 is actually pretty high.

    As for telling my daughters they are pretty, you, as usual, go to extremes. It has nothing to do with their becoming sluts. When we don’t emphasize physical attractiveness, they aren’t getting the message that they are unattractive. They are getting the message that looks aren’t something we value. Believe me, they get told all the time how cute, pretty, and beautiful they are (thankfully, they got my wife’s looks). As a point of reference, we don’t tell them how smart they are either. Why you may ask. Because looks and intelligence are not within their control, so there is no point in talking about them. Parents should focus on areas in which their kids have control, e.g., hard work, kindness, respect, responsibility.

    My wife and I discuss what we call the “forbidden fruit” theory of withholding from our children. She is uncertain. I don’t buy it. Think of it this way. Early in life, depending on what they are expose to, kids develop “defaults,” that is, ingrained ways of thinking about and reacting to the world. If their default is to not be concerned about looks and care most about real values, then, though they may be exposed to what we consider to be bad stuff from popular culture, they may dabble in it, but are more likely to fall back to their defaults. Our daughters will get exposed to the coarseness of popular culture in time, but only when they are prepared to respond to it in deliberate and responsible ways. As for nail polish, a friend of my 5-year-old daughter had a “spa” birthday party that involved manicures, pedicures, hairdos, etc. We didn’t allow her to go because we thought that such treatment is totally inappropriate for such young girls. We can’t protect our girls from popular culture forever (and we don’t want to), but we will protect them until they have the maturity, values, and tools to make their own deliberate decisions about the role that it plays in their lives.

    As Brian points out, looks matter in our culture (and I’m familiar with the research), but we are going to emphasize more important aspects of their development.

    @d: And I have to totally disagree with you, per my argument above. You go to the same extreme as Brianna (not like you to do so). Just because we don’t tell them how pretty they are doesn’t mean that they will think themselves unattractive; that, I’m sorry to say, sounds and is ludicrous. As for your statements:
    “if you do not tell your little girls they are cute and smart, they will not be well rounded, and guess what? Men, still pick their spouses and girlfriends from looks, first brains last, sorry to burst your bubble. Do you want grandchildren? Or, do you want strong, brilliant girls, who are socially, outcast, because they believe they are unattractive? Then spend their lives, alone, in their brilliance.”

    Do you have any evidence to support these views? Sorry, d, I think these ideas are just so far off the tracks. How does believing they are attractive make them more well rounded?

    Despite my strong disagreement with much of what was said, I always appreciate the different perspectives.

    Okay, time to get back to work.

  10. Brianna |

    “Ah, Brianna, are you suggesting that you are gifted?!?!”

    Gifted people always know they’re gifted. Otherwise, they’d be very stupid gifted people.

    “Because looks and intelligence are not within their control, so there is no point in talking about them.”

    Actually, that isn’t true. While there are certainly limits to what you can do about your native looks and intelligence, there are also plenty of things you can do in order to make the most of what you’ve got, a fact that our observations about how IQ isn’t a huge predictor of success back up. For example, I look much nicer after I’ve shucked my usual t-shirt and jeans, put on a suit or dress, done my hair, and put on some light makeup. I have a friend who will probably never be stunningly handsome, but he looked a heck of a lot better after he cut his hair shorter and started wearing nicer clothes (and yes, he knows that too, we’ve discussed it, so he won’t be offended if he accidentally reads this). The methodology of how to think is also a skill, one that I slowly acquired due to native intellectual ability and years of scientific training, but which I later realized can indeed be concretized and taught. And I had a much easier times keeping up with discussions about politics and economics after I actually sat down and started reading books about politics and economics.

    “As for telling my daughters they are pretty, you, as usual, go to extremes.”

    It was hyperbole, Jim. I don’t literally think that the only alternatives are that they will be either completely dead to physical attractiveness or that they will be sluts. I was just trying to say, I think its better to teach kids about beauty in its proper context than it is to try and shut off all comments about it and pretend that the choices are to either let them go off into pop culture world or shut off the subject entirely.

  11. Tom Carter |

    Gifted (intelligent) people do know that they’re intelligent, although when young they may simply realize that they’re different from their peers. One of the biggest problems, I think, is that people pat unusually intelligent kids on the head, tell them how smart they are, and ignore (or don’t understand) the need to direct where and how that intelligence is applied. Seems that’s at least part of the reason highly intelligent kids sometimes don’t reach their full potential.

    IQ is the most significant predictor of academic and professional achievement. However, it’s just one predictor — many things determine what actually happens, to include all the factors previously discussed. Put another way, it’s not uncommon to find high-IQ people doing mundane jobs that don’t require a lot of intelligence, but it’s virtually impossible to find a surgeon or a physicist who doesn’t have a high IQ. One of the really queer things about modern political correctness is the reluctance in some quarters to recognize any discriminator among people that indicates that there are fundamental differences that could be considered to be qualitative, in this case the level of intelligence, and it’s especially true if there’s a demonstrated difference among racial/ethnic groups.

    I agree that there’s value in learning something about a subject before expressing opinions. One depressing characteristic of the internet is that it’s opened up and even encouraged a heck of a lot of fact-free discussion and commentary, particularly on the part of political extremists and conspiracy theorists.

  12. Clarissa |

    “My wife and I never discuss physical appearance or call our girls “cute” or “beautiful.””

    -As a woman, I feel nothing that a profound compassion for a young woman who grows up without hearing that she is beautiful from her father. Her next step will be to find some much older man to substitute for that. She will be so much more amenable to manipulations from older men if she never heard her father tell her those things.

    The only reason why I never allowed any man to be not even abusive but even the least condescending, mean or exploitative to me in any way was because of the three fantastic men who brought me up – my greatgrandfather, my grandfather, and my father. Having heard from them on a daily basis that I’m the most beautiful, intelligent, and fantastic young woman in the universe, allowed me to expect this treatment from every single man I ever met. Don’t deprive your daughters from something that’s so crucial to them! If you do, they’ll find a place to get this kind of validation, and it might not be the best or the healthiest of places.

  13. Clarissa |

    “As far as telling young girls they’re pretty, I agree that it can be overdone”

    -This cannot possibly be “overdone” for children of any gender. There will be so many people, TV shows, commercials, journal ads to tell kids that they are not good enough, not attractive enough, etc. All you can hope for as a parent is to innoculate them from those pernicious messages as much as you can by telling them that yes, they are the best, the most beautiful, the most special – at least in your eyes.

    I can never understand parents who begrudge even this most basic thing – total acceptance and love – to their children. Why have them at all, if even for you they are not all that special?

  14. Tom Carter |

    Clarissa, I agree with you generally, but I still think that praise and compliments for children can be overdone, just like anything else that’s otherwise positive and good. There also has to be an element of reality in all of this — praise and complements have to be tailored to children’s real characteristics, or sooner or later they’ll recognize that you’ve been deluding them.

  15. Dr. Jim Taylor |

    @Clarissa: Sorry for not responding sooner, but I’ve been traveling for work for several days.

    You make several remarkable and, in my view, startlingly erroneous and unfounded, assumptions in your comments.

    First, you assume that the reason you are who you are, quite wonderful by your own admission, is that you had three men who told you that you were the “most beautiful, intelligent, and fantastic young woman” on a daily basis. You don’t indicate that they made you feel loved, or taught you healthy values, or instilled a strong sense of competence. In other words, they helped you develop healthy self-esteem. If they did, in fact, tell you that you were the “most beautiful, intelligent, and fantastic young woman,” then they were lying to you because, without knowing what you look like, how your IQ is, or what kind of person you are, the chances are that you are not such a woman (that young woman doesn’t exist). You overstate your belief that this statement was the cause of why you became who you are and you understate the more likely cause (plus, you ignore the robust research supporting my position).

    Second, you make the assumption that girls who aren’t told they are beautiful will be drawn to manipulative old men who will tell them they are beautiful. You state that ” The only reason why I never allowed any man…” is an unsupportable belief either empirically or in terms of plain common sense. But, if I’m wrong, I would appreciate it if you would send me the references to the scientific research that supports your claim. Of course, there is no such research and I doubt you have much anecdotal evidence either.

    Third, you argue that telling girls they are pretty can’t be overdone because our popular culture tells them they that they aren’t. To the contrary, popular culture leads children to believe that they are much more intelligent, attractive, and talented than they actually are (there is research on this). It also teaches children to value what I consider to be values not worthy of admiration, for example, beauty, materialism, vanity, winning at any cost, the list goes on. Relatedly, as Tom suggests, when parents praise their children unrealistically, they are setting their children up for a painful realization when they come face to face with reality that they aren’t the “most beautiful, intelligent, and fantastic” people out there.

    Moreover, our popular culture’s emphasis on physical attractiveness, and the messages it sends to children, especially girls, actually hurts them because popular culture sets a standard that is virtually impossible for 99.9% of girls to meet. So, rather than inoculating girls from “those pernicious messages,” by emphasizing appearance, you are injecting them with those messages and making them more likely to be self-conscious about their bodies, more likely to diet and exercise excessively, and more likely to develop eating disorders (there is research to support this). By not making appearance an issue in our family, we send the message that looks aren’t important to us. Instead, we emphasize values that we do believe are important, such as respect, responsibility, hard work, and compassion. In fact, my new parenting book is precisely about these and other messages.

    Fourth, you conflate excessive praise (that emphasizes beauty) with “even this most basic thing – total acceptance and love.” What does telling a girl she is beautiful have to do with unconditional love? Absolutely nothing. Or, even worse, it becomes conditional love. “Total acceptance and love” involves loving children even if they are ugly, stupid, and thoroughly untalented (but are really kind, considerate kids).

    What we are really talking about here is building self-esteem in children. This is not accomplished by having parents try to convince them that they are exceptional or special or beautiful or brilliant or gifted or whatever. Self-esteem is comprised of three components (based on the latest research): love, competence, and security. You love your children. You help them learn first hand (not by being told) that they are competent beings. You make them feel safe in a decidedly unsafe world. That is how you raise children who will be successful, happy, value-driven, and contributing people (My first two parenting books address these issues).

    You might be interested in reading this blog post here.
    Sorry if my reply has a bit of edge to it, but you definitely pushed a button and took a stance that I couldn’t disagree more with.

    I’m curious whether you have children and, more specifically, daughters.

  16. Dr. Jim Taylor |

    @Brianna: Thanks for your clarifications. But a few small points.

    There are many people out there who believe they are gifted when they are decidedly not, including many children because their parents led them to believe they were. These children are in for a rude awakening at some point. The reality is that people tend to overestimate their capabilities and that can have benefits and costs, but when you have hat than cattle, sooner or later you will be found out.

    You say that there are things that people can do. Your examples have to do with appearance and I grant you that a haircut, make-up, etc. can help. But there is nothing you can do to make yourself appear more gifted than you are or more athletically talented either. As the saying goes, “You got what you got and there ain’t no more” (I might have just made that up).

    Finally, as our favorite former VP candidate once said, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

  17. Dr. Jim Taylor |

    @Clarissa: Here’s the link that didn’t work above:

    “You might be interested in reading this blog post here.”

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