I’m not about participation trophies. If your kid is involved in some sort of competitive team sport and loses, I don’t think the team deserves a trophy. You don’t get awards for losing in real life. When you hand out trophies for everything, it makes winning less special. But I don’t think this particular situation applies to the “participation trophy” culture. This is just weird.
A UK mom has sparked quite a bit of controversy. You see, one of her kids (she has three) had perfect attendance at school and won a “perfect attendance” award. I remember school administrators handing those out in elementary school. I never got one. I never remember feeling upset or angry or jealous of the kids who won them. I was actually in awe of them (I was like 7, give me a break). Back then, perfect attendance was cool. However, Rachel Wright, the mom in question, won’t allow her 10-year-old son JJ to accept his perfect attendance award, because it shames those who are sick and basically awards people who get “lucky” that year.
Her four main reasons are as follows:
1) We don’t reward luck.
2) 100% Attendance Awards demonize the weakest.
3) He had no control over his 100% attendance.
4) We are taking him out of school for 5 days at the end of term.
“In this family you are not shamed for ill health, vulnerability or weakness,” she wrote in her blog. “In this house you are not encouraged to spread germs when you are not well. In this house we look after ourselves and the weakest amongst us.”
Can you imagine a work place that at the end of each week marked out all the people who hadn’t been sick? Where all the departments with the least number of people off were rewarded – in front of everyone else? It happens in schools all the time.
Can you imagine what kind of atmosphere that would create with people who had days off because of bereavement, mental health problem or chronic conditions?
What on earth are we teaching our kids about value and worth? What are we teaching them about looking out for each other and looking after the sick or disabled in our community?
One of Rachel’s kids– her 11-year-old son– has cerebral palsy, so maybe that’s why she’s so sensitive about this. Trust me. I know firsthand how difficult it is to get a disabled kid to school. (For those who are new here, my youngest sister has cerebral palsy, and NO ONE has missed more days of school than her. Trust me. It’s an ongoing joke now.)
“My post was written as a way of communicating our values and thoughts explaining a little of our story and why we think the way we do,” Wright told ABC News. “I was trying to spark a conversation about what 100 percent attendance teaches our children about health, values and those who suffer long term conditions.”
Given my family situation, I understand where Rachel is coming from. But let me just say: As a kid, I NEVER thought that kids who didn’t win the perfect attendance award were sick losers. Kids don’t think that way. I get it’s a silly award, but that’s the point. It’s a silly award that doesn’t really mean anything. Sick or disabled kids aren’t going to take that to heart. If I won the perfect attendance award– which I never did– my little disabled sister would’ve laughed at me and been like, “Dork.” (She’s non-verbal, but if you know her, you know EXACTLY what she’s saying with her facial expressions.) Not all disabled people are sensitive snowflakes who will allow a perfect attendance award to emotionally wound them. If my future kid ever gets a “perfect attendance” award, great. Who cares. I’m not going to stop him/her from getting that pretty slip of paper and an unsharpened Lisa Frank pencil.
All that being said, people are mocking this pretty hard.
SON: “Mom, I got a great job!’
MOM: “Give it back! I’ll not have you shaming the unemployed!”
— 🌵JENNA (@jennabean) July 14, 2017
But shaming your kid for earning an award is A-OK https://t.co/2OX4AHfEtH
— Michele Frost (@michelelfrost) July 15, 2017
I had perfect attendance from 5th grade -11 grade and accepted that award with pride every year.
— bruce (@brucea123456789) July 14, 2017
That lady is doing way too much. Let the kid get his award. Does she want a cookie? A pat on the back?
— BoomShakaLakaBoom (@WhovianFringe) July 14, 2017
I guess when he graduates from high school he won’t be accepting any scholarships to college either 🤔
— Jesse Hosey (@jesse_hosey) July 14, 2017
I never missed a day of school from 1st thru 12th grade. Was one of only 42 seniors statewide to receive the honor that year (’98). Yay, me!
— DuncanDowntown (@DuncanDowntown) July 15, 2017
So being healthy to attend school everyday is now healthy child shaming… https://t.co/dKXJwr4tlW
— 😒Richard Jamesson😐 (@soyouknowwme) July 15, 2017
Or ban “A”s. It shames the students that didn’t reach that plateau
— Dixie Normas (@dixie_normas) July 16, 2017
I understand the point she is trying to make but I dont think this is the way to do it
— sandy (@soapoperanurse3) July 14, 2017
Teaching children that life is 0-sum, their successes mean some1 else suffers will produce generation w/NO motivation 2 achieve. #Shame
— Hope d’Amore (@10ATexan) July 15, 2017
What this really teaches is that we can’t celebrate anyone’s achievements because someone with different achievements might feel bad. https://t.co/kYByJCinTr
— Mo Mo (@molratty) July 15, 2017
That’s what I’m afraid of. JJ’s attendance didn’t cause others to get sick. He shouldn’t feel bad about having perfect attendance.
There’s a balance here. Somewhere.
Are we moving from trophies for everyone to no awards allowed?
— Jill Taylor (@JillSilverShoes) July 15, 2017
That is the question. Your thoughts?