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Making the A Team: The Rights and Privileges of Childhood

Earlier this week, I caught up with a friend who teaches swimming to children. She’s a fantastic coach — she swam competitively throughout college — with lots of experience training kids. As many coaches do, she divides children into ‘A’ and ‘B’ relay teams for competitions so that they can swim with others at a comparable skill level.


Recently, however, one mum took issue with this. She approached my friend after a lesson and asked her to rename the divisions the ‘A team’ and ‘A-minus team.’ Being part of something labeled ‘B team,’ she worried, was hurting her daughter’s feelings.

My friend was taken aback, to say the least. Fifteen years ago, when Barb started coaching (and I started nannying), parents who suggested that their child’s delicate constitution required such adjustments and euphemisms were seen as oddballs, and their requests were met with a raised eyebrow and a firm “no.” Now, not even a generation later, Barb and I are astounded to find that parents like these are everywhere.

Somehow, over the last fifteen years, parents have increasingly embraced the idea that rules are for other people’s children, and that bending them to make things easier in the short-term is a good idea. But being a good parent doesn’t mean keeping your children happy in every moment. It means raising them to be healthy, independent, gracious and happy as adults. It means setting them up for success, not a rude awakening. When short-term and long-term happiness appear to conflict, the choice is easy.


Read the full article on the Huff Post Parents Blog, originally published on March 28, 2013.

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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