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I'm going to go at in from a different angle. If the kid DOES have success, it does not do other kids any good to say--yes, but he was lucky! You'll never be able to do this or that, therefore we should denigrate what the successful kid has done. "After all, not every kid needs college!" I am SO tired of this rant, about "trades are wonderful and college happens because parents pushed it. After all--it's just that they were lucky!" MY kids' academic success should not be poo-pooed because YOUR kid is not headed there. Can we not agree that some kids are more successful in academics than others, but that does not mean we should not offer those academics to all? "MY kid is going into a trade!" Fine, but if your kid is not even allowed to TRY, how do you know that he might not thrive there? When the "working with your hands becomes a god" mindset, I see a problem. 

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Growing up, people told me that hard work brought success. It is something I had accepted without thinking about it. Now, I am not sure that it is true (I guess it also depends on the definition of su

I totally agree.  I have spent a lot of time talking with my kids about how everyone has things that are easier for them, and harder for them. And that we are all different because that makes sen

I don't think that just because something can be worked around doesn't mean it is bad luck or working against a person. A current events example: voting.  Clearly, some people can work around wai

1 hour ago, Pawz4me said:

 

I could go on--being born with a skin color that privileges one (or not), being born into a stable family (or not), entering the working world during a pandemic or during a thriving economy--these are all elements of luck. To deny that they have significant effects and can all be overcome by hard work is ignorant and cruel, IMO. And yet I know people who can't acknowledge that luck plays a significant role in anything. It bothers me a lot.

This is huge.  This is where I see privilege.

Two children with the same IQ and talents are going to hav vastly different outcomes if one is born into upper class white family in a great school district and one is born into a poor minority family in a terrible school district.  The second has a lot more barriers to success than the first.

I saw a meme on FB that hit me.   It might be trite or patronizing but it said, " if all it took was hard work, then mothers in Africa (or Haiti...or Appalachia) would all be rich".

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1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

Sure, but having things valued by society come easy to you is good luck. 

There was a lot of back and forth in the above conversation but I think this right here is the key.

Maybe society should value more than just intellectual activities. Maybe they should value people.

 

See we can value people and who they are and not completely throw out agency.  I do believe a lot in life is luck but I also believe you need to work hard. They aren't mutually exclusive. 

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49 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

I don't think that just because something can be worked around doesn't mean it is bad luck or working against a person.

A current events example: voting.  Clearly, some people can work around waiting in line for 8+ hours to vote, but that doesn't negate the fact that I am gosh darn lucky that I have never had to wait more than 10 minutes where I live.  I have done nothing to deserve faster voting, but I have it none the less.

My kids are lucky to be elementary and early middle school ages during this pandemic rather than high school, college, or young adults when the stakes are much higher.  If they were older, clearly we/they would work around it - but they are lucky not to have to do that.

I was academically unlucky to grow up in a very rural school district that did not offer many advanced classes that would have challenged and prepared me.  I clearly worked around that since I went to MIT, but it doesn't change the fact that I nearly dropped out after one semester because despite being the valedictorian with far above a 4. GPA, I still was woefully underprepared by the education that was available to me.

There are plenty of studies that show that having the "right" color skin, the "right" name, the "right" gender impact a person's success.  You can work around those things, but statistically they will always be a ball and chain dragging you down a little bit.

A high school student who can use their work earnings for field trips, tutoring, club activities or a foreign exchange trip (me)  is lucky compared to one who has to use every penny to pay the family's heat bill (my mother).  It certainly doesn't mean the second student cannot be successful, but it is not a level playing field. 

I think one big difference between me and my mother (between the lucky and the unlucky) is not whether we were successful (we both were), but how many paths to success were available to us.  There certainly were some paths closed to me - my eyesight is not good enough to be an astronaut and I doubt that even with extensive practice I could have made it as a professional musician - but largely I could get where ever I wanted to with hard work.  My mother's opportunities were much, much more limited, not because she did not work as hard as me, but because in many aspects of her life, luck was not on her side.

 

So if I understand the argument of luck correctly, it is used here as also a proxy of nature. So you went to MIT because your intelligence (call it IQ if you want) is something you were born with and that gift from nature allowed you to overcome circumstances that the rest of us with much lower IQs would never ever dream about. So no question you worked hard, but no amount of hard work would have helped you if you weren’t “lucky” and born MIT intelligent. 
 

 

I have one exceptionally musically gifted kid. He did in 2 years what kids with hard work do in 8 years. It’s not fair. It’s just not. 

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Some of you may know the story of how Josh Groban became famous. He has an amazing voice (luck and natural talent) and he studied voice at an arts high school (hard work). When Andrea Bocelli was not able to attend a practice for the Grammys with Celine Dion, somebody recommended the 17 year old with the great voice and that's how Groban was "discovered". Josh talks about that as "preparation meeting opportunity" and I've always liked that phrase because it never hurts to develop your talents. That doesn't mean that opportunity will always show up though. If he had lived in some rural town instead of attending an LA arts school, that opportunity may not have ever come (luck). I think there's a lot of factors that determine success for most people and hard work is just one of them.

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20 minutes ago, frogger said:

There was a lot of back and forth in the above conversation but I think this right here is the key.

Maybe society should value more than just intellectual activities. Maybe they should value people.

 

See we can value people and who they are and not completely throw out agency.  I do believe a lot in life is luck but I also believe you need to work hard. They aren't mutually exclusive. 

Society does value people. It values people that provide something for that society.

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Maybe a more useful message is to encourage kids to identify their talents and develop them. Working on this may be more rewarding and often leads to a personal feeling of success. I think "success" is individually defined. Society can look at an successful attorney who is wealthy with all the "right" trimmings of success yet s/he may be miserable in his profession. A farmer who loves what he is doing may feel successful and excited at the prospect of a new day but he does not necessarily have the plush corner office or the income of an attorney. In other words, maybe finding your niche is true success.

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15 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

So if I understand the argument of luck correctly, it is used here as also a proxy of nature. So you went to MIT because your intelligence (call it IQ if you want) is something you were born with and that gift from nature allowed you to overcome circumstances that the rest of us with much lower IQs would never ever dream about. So no question you worked hard, but no amount of hard work would have helped you if you weren’t “lucky” and born MIT intelligent. 
 

 

I have one exceptionally musically gifted kid. He did in 2 years what kids with hard work do in 8 years. It’s not fair. It’s just not. 

Yep, life isn't fair. 

I think we can still congratulate people who do well and recognize their hard work. 

I think we can still recognize triumphs of those who overcame difficulties and celebrate those too.

But we value people because they are people. They are humans. I think this is where Americans lack of community and relationships hurts them.

We can sorry with those who have had dreams crushed. A concert pianest whose hands have been mangled but if they are only a pianest to us, maybe we are a just fans, will lose touch and they will no longer matter to us. There are no new songsto buy. But to that pianest's mother, father, siblings, friends they are so much more and hopefully they will help them discover new things and they will find new ways to be productive. 

Our whole identity should be more than just a career or what we do. Certainly, it is part of us but it isn't our whole identity.

 

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10 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

Society does value people. It values people that provide something for that society.

You are simply saying society uses people. This explains so much that is gross about our society.

 

That being said, people do want to contribute and be provide value to others. Without it, I think people get depressed and miserable no matter how much money or comfort they have in this life.

 

 

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Didn't read other replies so that my words are 100% my own--

ITA. If anyone's read Malcolm Gladwells book, the Outliers, they would readily acknowledge such as fact. 

It's not just hard work. It's smart work. It's connections. It's luck. It's timing. It's (in some cases) appearances. It's how you dress. It's luck. It's chance of birth. Its chance of birth order. It's how your tone of voice affects others. It's so many things. 

DH and I were both taught the hard work mantra. We believed it and worked out backsides off for decades. Workworkworkwork. Like beating your head against a brick wall - slow moving results. 

Then, dh caught a break on a side job he has started. Made a connection with a man-turned-mentor. Though him, dh learned to work smart. The results have been astounding in a short span. 
But without that luck and without dh's ability to capitalize on that advice, all the hard work in the world wouldn't have brought the success he's enjoying now. 

I HATE when ppl blame ppl who've fallen on hard times or who aren't wildly successful for not working hard enough. It's BS. 

I taught my kids - work hard and work smart. Someday, you'll have the chance to work toward whatever goal you set for yourself. Through smart work, you'll be able to set goals that stretch you and  goals that grow you. 

But I didn't tell them "work hard and you'll achieve or can be whatever you want" That's way oversimplified and damaging I think.

In real life, we must be practical about our dreams. If one sets shooting-for-the-star goals, one must build the scaffolding first. 

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21 minutes ago, frogger said:

You are simply saying society uses people. This explains so much that is gross about our society.

 

That being said, people do want to contribute and be provide value to others. Without it, I think people get depressed and miserable no matter how much money or comfort they have in this life.

 

 

For sure!!

So I will say that I am a cynic, probably by nature. But the bolded always reminds me of episode of Friends when Phoebe tried to convince Ross or Chandler that all good deeds are indeed selfish deeds.

I do think that the selfishness and self preservation is what makes it sort of survivable....I don't know....

 

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1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

Hmmmmm. That's probably true, I guess, but I actually think we expect too little and not too much out of kids. I don't think you have to be "the best" at something to be a thoughtful person who knows what it means to know things. 

I think we both expect too little of children and too much. On one hand, people excuse away lack of educational achievement in subjects like math and science because their child is not "good at math." An average child can learn math. But on the other hand, we expect children to always behave well and "perform" in a certain way. 

I think children (and all us, frankly) need to learn that there is a relationship between hard work and accomplishment. Many of us believe that if we are "good at" something, it will be easy for us. So if it's hard, we assume we are not good at it and we give up. It's important for children to realize that talent is not enough to achieve. 

I think it's also beneficial for us to learn that it's worth working at something to improve even if we're not innately good at it. For example, I've been trying to learn how to draw. I'd always assumed that because I was untalented that I could never learn how to draw. That's not true.

We also need to learn that we will not always like the hard work. 

But on the other hand, I think it's important to understand that there is a "luck" component as well. Hard work is not enough. 

I also think that hard work, by itself, is not always worth it. I see many kids pushed to work hard in athletics when they hate it. Our society thinks that hard work in athletics is always beneficial but hard work in math is a waste of time without talent. 

I dislike the idea of "passion." Many times we will need to work hard without passion. Also the idea of "passion" crowds everything else out. We want our kids to have well-rounded interests. I think the idea of "passion" with children can be very superficial. 

It's a balancing act. 

I was not encouraged enough when I was a student and I think I learned many bad habits. School was relatively easy for me and I learned to do just enough to get good grades. I had a huge fear of failure and that kept me from trying things outside of my comfort zone. I would have benefited from a more rigorous education where more was expected of me. 

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Their is so much that goes into success.  Talent, opportunity, hard work and luck for sure.  The only one we can control is hard work.  We also have to think about what success is.  Are you only successful if you reach the very top.

  I spent my whole childhood and early adulthood obsessed with soccer.  I did camps, multiple teams, private lessons etc. I had talent, supportive family, money, opportunities and connections.  I made it to a very high level national team tryouts,  all american. I did not ever make the national team.  Thanks to timing their was no pro league in America when I was in my early 20's.   So was I successful or a wannabe?  Most people would say that  I was successful but others don't.  They think it was a huge waste of time and money since now I am just a SAHM.

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2 hours ago, Margaret in CO said:

I'm going to go at in from a different angle. If the kid DOES have success, it does not do other kids any good to say--yes, but he was lucky! You'll never be able to do this or that, therefore we should denigrate what the successful kid has done. "After all, not every kid needs college!" I am SO tired of this rant, about "trades are wonderful and college happens because parents pushed it. After all--it's just that they were lucky!" MY kids' academic success should not be poo-pooed because YOUR kid is not headed there. Can we not agree that some kids are more successful in academics than others, but that does not mean we should not offer those academics to all? "MY kid is going into a trade!" Fine, but if your kid is not even allowed to TRY, how do you know that he might not thrive there? When the "working with your hands becomes a god" mindset, I see a problem. 

I don’t support ACTIVELY discouraging college.  But the way this post is arranged, it comes off to me as equal but opposite judgment.  Genuine question: Did you ever allow your kids to try trades to find out if they might thrive there? Or is that just a one-way street?

The truth is, none of us can provide EVERY opportunity that exists. Not even the richest and most privileged of us all.  I’m all about exploring multiple routes but, especially once the high school years come around, you can’t make kids devote intense time and effort into all of the arts, sports, trades, certificate programs, undergraduate, masters, and doctorate bound programs, small business ownership, community service, and don’t forget just homemaking. 😉. The scope has to narrow at some time and place, based on interests, abilities, individual and family values, location, money, and many other circumstances.

And it doesn’t end there.
Says an accounting major turned SAHM, married to a criminal justice major turned manual laborer turned executive anticipating turning business owner.

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I think we both expect too little of children and too much. On one hand, people excuse away lack of educational achievement in subjects like math and science because their child is not "good at math." An average child can learn math. But on the other hand, we expect children to always behave well and "perform" in a certain way. 

I think children (and all us, frankly) need to learn that there is a relationship between hard work and accomplishment. Many of us believe that if we are "good at" something, it will be easy for us. So if it's hard, we assume we are not good at it and we give up. It's important for children to realize that talent is not enough to achieve. 

I think it's also beneficial for us to learn that it's worth working at something to improve even if we're not innately good at it. For example, I've been trying to learn how to draw. I'd always assumed that because I was untalented that I could never learn how to draw. That's not true.

We also need to learn that we will not always like the hard work. 

But on the other hand, I think it's important to understand that there is a "luck" component as well. Hard work is not enough. 

I also think that hard work, by itself, is not always worth it. I see many kids pushed to work hard in athletics when they hate it. Our society thinks that hard work in athletics is always beneficial but hard work in math is a waste of time without talent. 

I dislike the idea of "passion." Many times we will need to work hard without passion. Also the idea of "passion" crowds everything else out. We want our kids to have well-rounded interests. I think the idea of "passion" with children can be very superficial. 

It's a balancing act. 

I was not encouraged enough when I was a student and I think I learned many bad habits. School was relatively easy for me and I learned to do just enough to get good grades. I had a huge fear of failure and that kept me from trying things outside of my comfort zone. I would have benefited from a more rigorous education where more was expected of me. 

I just love so much everything you said.

 

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25 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

I don’t support ACTIVELY discouraging college.  But the way this post is arranged, it comes off to me as equal but opposite judgment.  Genuine question: Did you ever allow your kids to try trades to find out if they might thrive there? Or is that just a one-way street?

 

I posted my comments because I HAVE seen too many moms, especially hs moms, ACTIVELY discourage their children from pursuing academics. I watched my sil do this, with a gifted son. Fortunately, the rest of the family encouraged him to leave the farm and pursue his degree in nuclear engineering! But, I'm also watching a woman down valley, with a child who IS capable of higher ed, but he's swallowed the myth of "College is not for the likes of us. Trade school is good enough."

My kids all pursued higher ed, but they did the trade thing too. My doctoral candidate can drive heavy machinery, as can all her siblings. My rancher kid HAS the degree, mostly paid for by the Army, but was not able to Commission due to her injuries. She does a lot of heavy equipment driving now, interspersed with welding, maintenance, oh and working with the county on managing Covid stuff. She also uses her degree in her small business. Anyone need some Charolais cattle? 😉 She spends a lot of her time being a liaison between the Stockgrowers and mountain bikers. She can step between the worlds of ranching and recreation, and a lot of those skills came from her time at college, being the mascot handler for U of Wyo, and believe it or not, being a rodeo queen!

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3 minutes ago, Heigh Ho said:

Saying its not fair dismisses the child's preparation.  His 10,000 hours started earlier and were done informally, and aren't counted in the 2 vs 8 years comparison.  

Sometimes, maybe. And sometimes things just COME EASY without any preparation. 

DD8 learned to read when she was 3 with no trouble at all. She's currently teaching herself to read in Russian, and I'm pretty sure that in a few weeks, she'll have taught herself, with basically no input from me except "No, that's a (fill in the sound here)." That's because symbols are incredibly easy for her. 

DD4 has a much, much, much harder time recognizing symbols. She's a very bright kid, but this specific skill is much harder for her. It has nothing to do with informal preparation or formal preparation or anything -- just their different brains. 

Hard work pays off for both of them. Hard work will take DD8 further in some areas than the equivalent amount of hard work for another kid. It just will. 

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5 hours ago, SereneHome said:

Yes!!! That I agree with 10000%. Health and being born to parents who love and support you is definitely luck and can make success much much easier.

Everything else (that I can think of) can be worked around.

You can't work around when you are born, either and it does make a huge difference.  As posters said earlier, if you are born at a certain time and graduate then at another time, the job market could be great or horrible.  The interest rates could be great or horrible.  You could have been born in a time when there was absolutely no forgiveness of any student loans - I was and so were lots of others. You could have been born at a time when women couldn't have certain jobs (that usually paid better) or when racial discrimination was what almost everyone was doing in things like hiring and real estate (and I know there are still issues but it is definitely much better than when I was a small child).  

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4 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

Right, so we don’t want the society laying on its back saying everything is predetermining by genetics anyway.

I have no answer to this. I think the reason there is so much drug use (both legal and illegal) is because so many of us feel like failures. 

What kind of drugs are you referring to as legal that are being used in this way?

I do agree that much of the illegal drug use and heavy alcohol drinking is due to depression and often that depression stems from feeling like a failure or hopeless or very stressed.

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27 minutes ago, Heigh Ho said:

The prep is the neural network, which is still developing at these ages.  Is it really fair to compare a brain that has developed one domain more extensively than another brain at the same age?  Perhaps brain two is working on something else...which the parent can't observe.

I'm absolutely sure that the second brain is working on something else. And there are things that DD4 is better at than her sister -- it's not some sort of global inequality. I'm just saying that these things aren't fair. 

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15 minutes ago, TravelingChris said:

What kind of drugs are you referring to as legal that are being used in this way?

I do agree that much of the illegal drug use and heavy alcohol drinking is due to depression and often that depression stems from feeling like a failure or hopeless or very stressed.

Well, alcohol is legal... 

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1 hour ago, TravelingChris said:

You can't work around when you are born, either and it does make a huge difference.  As posters said earlier, if you are born at a certain time and graduate then at another time, the job market could be great or horrible.  The interest rates could be great or horrible.  You could have been born in a time when there was absolutely no forgiveness of any student loans - I was and so were lots of others. You could have been born at a time when women couldn't have certain jobs (that usually paid better) or when racial discrimination was what almost everyone was doing in things like hiring and real estate (and I know there are still issues but it is definitely much better than when I was a small child).  

Even if you graduate during certain times, it's not forever. Times change. So can your success.

And even when women couldn't vote or during racial discrimination, there were still successful women and successful minorities. I never said being successful is easy. I said that it's doable. Except for health factors. And potentially growing up in a certain type of family. But even that can very much be overcome

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1 hour ago, TravelingChris said:

What kind of drugs are you referring to as legal that are being used in this way?

I do agree that much of the illegal drug use and heavy alcohol drinking is due to depression and often that depression stems from feeling like a failure or hopeless or very stressed.

Antidepressants 

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22 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

Even if you graduate during certain times, it's not forever. Times change. So can your success.

And even when women couldn't vote or during racial discrimination, there were still successful women and successful minorities. I never said being successful is easy. I said that it's doable. Except for health factors. And potentially growing up in a certain type of family. But even that can very much be overcome

I don't really understand your argument, I'm afraid. Of course people can triumph over adversity. It's just HARDER in some situations than others. That's the element of luck.

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I think this is why in some respects homeschooling has been great. Removing the outside element, it’s easier to teach kids to concentrate on being the best they can be so they can maximize their opportunities even if their best doesn’t cut it in the competitive environment. 
It’s much harder to drive that message in the classroom though.

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26 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I don't really understand your argument, I'm afraid. Of course people can triumph over adversity. It's just HARDER in some situations than others. That's the element of luck.

My original point was that besides health and may be being born into a loving and supportive family, everything else can be managed. Chris added that being born during a certain time as a factor. I disagree as to me, that is just like everything else is managable

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1 hour ago, SereneHome said:

Even if you graduate during certain times, it's not forever. Times change. So can your success.

And even when women couldn't vote or during racial discrimination, there were still successful women and successful minorities. I never said being successful is easy. I said that it's doable. Except for health factors. And potentially growing up in a certain type of family. But even that can very much be overcome

I think we are in agreement over a lot of things but part of the problem is defining success and what success is to a kid who is struggling and getting that nuance down.

 

The other part of the problem is comparison. I can be successful and productive without beating someone else in some kind of competition. Part of the OP's problem is that we (adults) put kids in competition with each other and we don't do that to ourselves. To be good at something means to be better than the other kids. As an adult I not only choose what I want to study, I alsodo so at my own pace and I am not constantly being compared to others. 

Sometimes I let my kids teach me stuff and it's good for them to watch me struggle and it's good for them to see they are better at something than I am and I want to model that for them. I suppose I would look like a doofus to the rest of the world when my oldest was teaching me martial arts or my second child practicing a song with me. I wouldn't call myself musical by any means. The third child helps me fix my bike. Today, my son was explaining a probability problem to me. Can I help my oldest studying upper level college math. Sort of. He explains it and I ask lots of questions and in doing so he found a mistake. It is ok to not be good at something. This goes back to being successful.

You don't have to be good at everything to be successful. You have to learn how to live the life you have. You don't have to be better than someone else to be successful. You do have to work hard though.

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1 minute ago, frogger said:

I think we are in agreement over a lot of things but part of the problem is defining success and what success is to a kid who is struggling and getting that nuance down.

 

The other part of the problem is comparison. I can be successful and productive without beating someone else in some kind of competition. Part of the OP's problem is that we (adults) put kids in competition with each other and we don't do that to ourselves. To be good at something means to be better than the other kids. As an adult I not only choose what I want to study, I alsodo so at my own pace and I am not constantly being compared to others. 

Sometimes I let my kids teach me stuff and it's good for them to watch me struggle and it's good for them to see they are better at something than I am and I want to model that for them. I suppose I would look like a doofus to the rest of the world when my oldest was teaching me martial arts or my second child practicing a song with me. I wouldn't call myself musical by any means. The third child helps me fix my bike. Today, my son was explaining a probability problem to me. Can I help my oldest studying upper level college math. Sort of. He explains it and I ask lots of questions and in doing so he found a mistake. It is ok to not be good at something. This goes back to being successful.

You don't have to be good at everything to be successful. You have to learn how to live the life you have. You don't have to be better than someone else to be successful. You do have to work hard though.

OK, so I have to confess that I was answering in general terms not necessarily in relations to OP.

to the bolded - I think you are unique in that sense.  I think the concept of KUWJ doesn't just relate to who is buying what, but very much alive in many aspects of our adult life. Jobs, relationships, how we parent our children, how we are measured by success of our children, just to name a few.

I can't really say anything too intelligent when it comes to OP, bc while I have all kinds of ideas on how children should be raised, I think I am failing mine terribly, so.... 🙂

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4 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Well, alcohol is legal... 

Yes, of course,  I was replying that feeling like a failure can cause heavy drinking, not that it is illegal and the legal drug she was talking about that is taken because of feeling like a failure was antideppresants.

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3 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

I think this is why in some respects homeschooling has been great. Removing the outside element, it’s easier to teach kids to concentrate on being the best they can be so they can maximize their opportunities even if their best doesn’t cut it in the competitive environment. 
It’s much harder to drive that message in the classroom though.

 

This.  Also by teaching challenging curriculum to mastery at the student's own pace you're hopefully instilling hard work as a lifelong habit.  I went to school with plenty of gifted kids who skated through school and hit a wall in adulthood when work and diligence and picking a path and sticking to it mattered.

I think often kids who find childhood more challenging thrive in adulthood.  Maybe not in high-stress careers, but in having happy lives being contributing members of society. I know a man who struggled through school with several learning disabilities, but he genuinely cares for people, and he's intelligent if not book smart, and he has charisma. He ended up with a graduate degree, a decent wage, a happy family. He had to work a lot harder for an education as a child (and there were other issues, a mentally ill mother, divorce, trauma as a child).  They were bad luck, but he had the ability to fight through that for a better life.  He had siblings with similar luck, more trauma, and possibly inherited mental illness.  They're not successful by any stretch.

We've been foster parents and I can't escape the fact that generational poverty and addiction can be very hard for many to escape. Even if mental health and the genetics of that weren't a thing, the trauma shapes who people are before they're old enough to put effort into learning to read.

I think we are all good at something, but sometimes it's not something valued by society.

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2 hours ago, SereneHome said:

My original point was that besides health and may be being born into a loving and supportive family, everything else can be managed. Chris added that being born during a certain time as a factor. I disagree as to me, that is just like everything else is managable

So are you saying that in your opinion, being born a minority in this country does not unfairly disadvantage a person?

Let me be very clear, I am certainly not saying that no one who is a minority race can succeed - that is clearly disprovable.  However, equally disprovable is saying that they are not at statistically measurable disadvantage in many facets of life.

And, yes, certainly all those disadvantages are manageable...for the people who are able to overcome them.  But those who end up unemployed or in prison or addicted to drugs or suffocated by a police office were obviously not able to "manage" the disadvantages that were stacked against them.  And I am not willing to lay the blame entirely at their feet and assume that they were just lazy or stupid or unmotivated. I'm sure that in some cases certain personality traits did play into their lack of success, but plenty of people who do achieve success are also born with those same personality traits, but happened to be born into luckier circumstances.

You can compare it to two analogous situations.

1 - Carseats.  Clearly, a baby being unrestrained during a car accident is manageable...for some of the babies.  Does the fact that some unrestrained babies "overcome" that disadvantage mean that they are not unlucky to have been put in that unsafe situation to start with?  And conversely, does that mean babies who are properly restrained are not lucky for the safety advantage they have been given through no additional effort on their part? If an unrestrained baby does die, if they don't "manage" their disadvantage, does that mean they are weaker or not working as hard as a baby who lives? Can "being unsuccessful" when you are denied a carseat (a fair education, equal protection under the law, commensurate pay, etc) truly be considered simply an individual's failure to manage their circumstances?

2 - Reading. Studies show that a much higher percentage of children will learn to read if they are taught phonics, and yet in this country many schools still use other methods.  We know that statistically some children will overcome the obstacle of poor instruction and will learn to read anyway.  But, in my district, which uses whole language instruction, testing shows that two thirds of kids don't learn to read adequately. Are students in my district unlucky? The school has certainly chosen to stack the reading odds against them, and not being able to read certainly feels like a disadvantage.  But, granted, some of the kids do in fact overcome that disadvantage. So does that mean two thirds of the little elementary kids are just not working hard enough? Even if a significant portion of them would be reading just fine with their current level of effort if they simply lived one district over and were taught with phonics? To me that feel unfair, inequitable, unfavorable...in other words, unlucky.

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1 minute ago, wendyroo said:

So are you saying that in your opinion, being born a minority in this country does not unfairly disadvantage a person?

Let me be very clear, I am certainly not saying that no one who is a minority race can succeed - that is clearly disprovable.  However, equally disprovable is saying that they are not at statistically measurable disadvantage in many facets of life.

And, yes, certainly all those disadvantages are manageable...for the people who are able to overcome them.  But those who end up unemployed or in prison or addicted to drugs or suffocated by a police office were obviously not able to "manage" the disadvantages that were stacked against them.  And I am not willing to lay the blame entirely at their feet and assume that they were just lazy or stupid or unmotivated. I'm sure that in some cases certain personality traits did play into their lack of success, but plenty of people who do achieve success are also born with those same personality traits, but happened to be born into luckier circumstances.

You can compare it to two analogous situations.

1 - Carseats.  Clearly, a baby being unrestrained during a car accident is manageable...for some of the babies.  Does the fact that some unrestrained babies "overcome" that disadvantage mean that they are not unlucky to have been put in that unsafe situation to start with?  And conversely, does that mean babies who are properly restrained are not lucky for the safety advantage they have been given through no additional effort on their part? If an unrestrained baby does die, if they don't "manage" their disadvantage, does that mean they are weaker or not working as hard as a baby who lives? Can "being unsuccessful" when you are denied a carseat (a fair education, equal protection under the law, commensurate pay, etc) truly be considered simply an individual's failure to manage their circumstances?

2 - Reading. Studies show that a much higher percentage of children will learn to read if they are taught phonics, and yet in this country many schools still use other methods.  We know that statistically some children will overcome the obstacle of poor instruction and will learn to read anyway.  But, in my district, which uses whole language instruction, testing shows that two thirds of kids don't learn to read adequately. Are students in my district unlucky? The school has certainly chosen to stack the reading odds against them, and not being able to read certainly feels like a disadvantage.  But, granted, some of the kids do in fact overcome that disadvantage. So does that mean two thirds of the little elementary kids are just not working hard enough? Even if a significant portion of them would be reading just fine with their current level of effort if they simply lived one district over and were taught with phonics? To me that feel unfair, inequitable, unfavorable...in other words, unlucky.

I am quoting you and bolding some of your words, but I think my statement is more of my general opinion.

The conversation was about luck. How luck plays a part in people's success. And I think that there is some element of pure luck. However, I think that most people have things to overcome.  And I think too often luck or lack thereof is used as an excuse.

I don't want to go into specifics about race or education level or financial position. I am a first generation immigrant who grew up very poor and was very poor for a long time in US. I still, after all the years of being in US, speak with an accent. No one could pronounce my maiden name and my religion has been a "problem" for many.  Oh and as I mentioned, I don't think I am particularly smart. I can attribute luck or lack thereof to my life at a drop of a hat. And I can prove it both way.  But I don't like to. I think it's an excuse, that goes both ways.

I do have to reiterate again and again - HEALTH! That's a huge luck factor!! You can do everything right and still get very sick. Or the other way around.

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Change the word from 'luck' to 'chance', I think. 

I personally think everything is chance. Got parents who tell you to practice your music? It's not that you 'worked harder' - it's because you had the parents/teacher etc who taught you how to practice. 

Healthy? Statistically, at least half of cancers are random mutations. Obesity is strongly related to child trauma, and it's also linked to societies with lots of high calorie food easily available. Born in those situations, you've got a higher chance of obesity.

Regarding the idea - we have to TELL people it's hard work, or else they won't try - try to reframe it on a society level. Let's look at what research has said about better health - you've got a better chance of living with less disease if you eat a mediterranean diet (or whatever). X doesn't equal Y, it just gives you a higher chance. Like to master that song? It's not 'hard work', it's - you're more likely to master it if you spend half an hour each day playing it over more slowly. And so forth. 

The 'work hard = success' idea favours people who are already 'successful', as a way of justifying themselves. I read a great article on the change in the past from 'my birth gives me the right to be rich' to the current 'my hard work gives me the right to be rich' which has occurred over the last 100 yrs or so.

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Whenever I think of hard work leading to success, I try to always keep it on a personal level. Any individual person will most likely be more successful if they work hard then if they don't. But that has no bearing on how their success compares to others, and it is extremely likely that someone who doesn't work hard at all but has all the luck (connections, innate intelligence, etc) will do better than them. But that doesn't negate the fact that an individual will do better working hard then not working hard.

 

I don't really think hard work correlates to success overall in society. It improves an individuals position most likely, but I would argue that most hard working people are probably not the most successful, at least if we are talking economically and in terms of happiness/stability. In the people I know, the most traditionally successful are the most intelligent people, but I would not necessarily consider them hard working. The most hard working people I know work that hard because they have to to *survive,* and success seems far away for them.

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39 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

I am a first generation immigrant who grew up very poor and was very poor for a long time in US.

I'm also a first generation immigrant. My mom's been divorced 3 times. I, too, still speak with a slight accent. 

However, my dad is a professor. My grandparents were high school teachers in math and physics. My grandmother taught me to read when I was 3 or 4. She taught me math. We had lots of books around the house. We always had enough to eat. I wasn't battling trauma. 

I really can't claim I had no advantages just because I was an immigrant. 

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1 hour ago, wendyroo said:

 

2 - Reading. Studies show that a much higher percentage of children will learn to read if they are taught phonics, and yet in this country many schools still use other methods.  We know that statistically some children will overcome the obstacle of poor instruction and will learn to read anyway.  But, in my district, which uses whole language instruction, testing shows that two thirds of kids don't learn to read adequately. Are students in my district unlucky? The school has certainly chosen to stack the reading odds against them, and not being able to read certainly feels like a disadvantage.  But, granted, some of the kids do in fact overcome that disadvantage. So does that mean two thirds of the little elementary kids are just not working hard enough? Even if a significant portion of them would be reading just fine with their current level of effort if they simply lived one district over and were taught with phonics? To me that feel unfair, inequitable, unfavorable...in other words, unlucky.

And another factor is that how much vocabulary a child hears between 0 and 3 is very indicative of how well they will do in school by age 18.  Which is one reason that Head Start advantages disappear by around 3rd grade.  And why programs that were there is a person who keeps going to help a disadvantage mother from birth to about 2 years is much more helpful as well as programs that keep emphasizes reading to your babies and toddlers and providing those disadvantage families some books.

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47 minutes ago, Btervet said:

Whenever I think of hard work leading to success, I try to always keep it on a personal level. Any individual person will most likely be more successful if they work hard then if they don't. But that has no bearing on how their success compares to others, and it is extremely likely that someone who doesn't work hard at all but has all the luck (connections, innate intelligence, etc) will do better than them. But that doesn't negate the fact that an individual will do better working hard then not working hard.

 

I don't really think hard work correlates to success overall in society. It improves an individuals position most likely, but I would argue that most hard working people are probably not the most successful, at least if we are talking economically and in terms of happiness/stability. In the people I know, the most traditionally successful are the most intelligent people, but I would not necessarily consider them hard working. The most hard working people I know work that hard because they have to to *survive,* and success seems far away for them.

Well one thing you have to consider is hard work versus no hard work in the same occupations or maybe the same college majors.  I will use my husband as an example because his major and profession required hard work- not physically hard but mentally hard as it is not a major that one can just wing it.  He is a physicist.  Now obviously  some people are faster than others at solving physics problems but one can choose to do the minimum required to get a C or one can do the work required to get an A.  I am not saying that everyone can be a physicist.  But of the people who can and do try- some do the minimum and some do much more.  His intelligence and his hard work and his personality all played a part in his success.  

 

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23 hours ago, lovinmyboys said:

Growing up, people told me that hard work brought success. It is something I had accepted without thinking about it. Now, I am not sure that it is true (I guess it also depends on the definition of success).

I haven't read the entire thread, but I do wonder how YOU define and measure success. It doesn't have to be the way one slice of America does.

Do you measure yourself as a failure based on the perceived expectations of others? If you don't, how do you measure it? Can you use a similar method with your dc? 

On a related note, how do you measure 'hard work?' Is it only 'hard' if one struggles, or perseveres, or if it translates to someone's definition of 'success?' 

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I struggled with this with my kids, who are about the same age but have very different abilities.  I learned early on to talk equally positively about what Kid1 vs Kid2 were good at, and to emphasize that we all have different talents.  One of mine definitely works a lot harder than the other to get a respectable grade, and I am honest about that too.  All that hard work and perseverance will prepare her for the kind of success she was designed to achieve.

The struggle has gotten tougher recently as she is getting bogged down with a mental health situation.  That hard work ethic is getting harder to see.  I don't have any brilliant answers to this one.

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Haven’t read all the responses.  The book “Outliers” speaks to this topic and it’s a really interesting read.  
 

My personal opinion is that several things play into success.  One is “luck” (though I’d probably call it opportunity...”Outliers” discusses this a lot). One is talent/ability.  One is hard work.  One is making good choices—someone can work hard but repeatedly make, say, poor financial decisions and not do well for themselves overall.

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I don't usually get involved in these threads 🙂

Some people are never going to have much public "success" because they have very different goals.

Some of my favorite people are (were) brilliant, creative, and yet struggle to pay their bills because they are just not very good at the kind of work that pays well. (I don't mean they aren't talented enough -- I mean maybe they dont want to be managers, or they arent interested in a desk job, or they don't have the patience for further education.) Some of them do valuable work indeed, as home health attendants or tutors. Others make art, organize to help recent immigrants, lots of things.

I think some people have the luck to fit in easily with their surroundings and with society's expectations. Those people rise relatively easily. Others tend to be on the outside. I don't even know if this is good or bad, but it's different, and I don't think it has much to do with academic skills, or interpersonal skills, much less good intentions or hard work. 

Edited by Little Green Leaves
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I, too, thought of the Outliers book. I also thought of this one, The Gift of Dyslexiahttps://www.amazon.com/Gift-Dyslexia-Smartest-Revised-Expanded/dp/0399535667/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=the+gift+of+dyslexia&qid=1603109657&sr=8-3

I believe work certainly contributes to success, and helps set you up for it much more than not working. As to luck--there are always people who are going to have more advantages than you and others who have less advantages, and it's best to work as hard as you can within your own parameters. If you think it (mostly) depends on luck, then personal motivation to do one's best is removed and excuses/blame take over. You can also focus on the character-building aspect of learning to work hard. Things may seem uneven now, but someone who has learned to work hard (a trait not always easy to find) has a distinct advantage in self-discipline, perseverance, and character, over the person for whom everything comes easily (who may kind of flop the first time they have to work hard to achieve something).

Within my own family, I have tried as best I could to point out each individual's strengths. I have twins, so I had to figure out how to help them feel valued as individuals. My two oldest were pretty opposite growing up; one very logical and with an easy gift for memorization; the other extremely creative in the area of ideas. My two youngest are quite different as well; one of them also is an idea person and finds academics very easy. The other has dyslexia, and academics does not come easily. However, he is great at noticing people. For example, in a group of young people, he will notice who is new, who is not participating, who seems sad, and he will go to them and sit with them, making them feel more willing and able to join in. He is an extremely hard worker physically, and has earned a reputation with many of the adults around for his work ethic. After reading the book above, I have been able to make observations to him, such as, "Many people who have dyslexia are really good at ______. I can see that in you." Or "For many people who have dyslexia, things really start to connect and make sense in their late high school and college years. So hang in there!" And "You may not ever be very good at spelling--that's just a dyslexia thing--but there are tools you can use to help (spell check, etc.), and you can focus on developing other things that you may have more giftedness in, like spatial relationships, seeing how to fix things,..."

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One thing that I find also contributes to success is charisma or likeability. 
 

It seems like we have all seen someone at work who is super bright and a hard worker get passed over for promotion only to have the job go to an employee who is less qualified but is universally liked. Is that a regional thing rather than universal?
 

We value hard work because I just can’t respect someone without a strong work ethic. 

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44 minutes ago, Amy Gen said:

We value hard work because I just can’t respect someone without a strong work ethic.

Yeah, we also really value hard work. And the benefit of homeschooling is that you can ask your kids to work hard, no matter their level. There's no way DD8 would have hard to work hard at school for a long, long time. That's a bad lesson! 

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1 hour ago, Amy Gen said:

One thing that I find also contributes to success is charisma or likeability. 
 

It seems like we have all seen someone at work who is super bright and a hard worker get passed over for promotion only to have the job go to an employee who is less qualified but is universally liked. Is that a regional thing rather than universal?
 

We value hard work because I just can’t respect someone without a strong work ethic. 

What is a "strong work ethic?" What is "hard work?" 

I first became a boss when I was 25 years old. I was promoted over a peer who was older than me. It was very intimidating for me. She would say that she had a strong work ethic. She certainly worked a lot of hours. She began reporting to me and I tried to figure out what she was actually doing. Why so many hours? I began to realize that this was a way of manipulating me. "You can't criticize my work because I stayed late last night." I was inexperienced so this was not immediately obvious to me. 

What I gradually realized was that she may have worked a lot of hours but it was not smart work. 

I had to gradually pull duties from her so it would completed in a more timely and accurate way. 

I've worked with other people though the years who had the same ideas about work. That's why I ask what is meant by hard work or a strong work ethic? 

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@Ordinary Shoes, I have had a very similar experience, except it was a co-worker, not a subordinate. This person thought she was such a hard worker, but she created a ton of red tape for herself. I always wondered what the hell she spent so many hours doing when nothing really would get accomplished. 

I think many people have an idealized belief that they work hard and have a strong work ethic if they merely have a non-cushy job. Like, an auto mechanic may think, “Well, I work hard; I get up and into the shop by 5:30 and I work hard all day.” And he looks at his friend who is an office cubical guy, and auto shop guy *thinks* he’s a harder worker than his office guy friend. Realistically, though, office guy also “works hard,” it’s just that the majority of his work is mental.  

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