The Superbowl and Flying Pigs

By , February 9, 2008 5:13 pm

A sports post??? From Mom Unplugged? Has the Earth tilted on its axis? Do pigs now request landing clearances from the control tower?

At the conclusion of last Sunday’s Superbowl I received two phone calls within 30 seconds of one another (I have call waiting), both to announce the news of the NY Giants’ unexpected victory over the New England Patriots.

Having no TV and less than no interest in football, nonetheless even I knew who was playing and who was supposed to win. So…lesson number 1: just because you are TV-free doesn’t necessarily mean that you are uninformed (although sometimes it does).

The first call was from my sister, who also normally prefers the Puppy Bowl to the Superbowl. The second was from my husband who had urgent business to attend to in Albuquerque last weekend and stayed at his house there instead of coming to Arizona. I wonder….could the “urgent business” have had anything to do with the fact that the Superbowl was on and I have no TV? Hmmm…..

Both of them were wildly excited about the upset and said it was the most exciting football game they had ever seen which, in my sister’s case, doesn’t mean a whole lot, but in my husband’s case it does.

On to lesson number 2: Obviously, New England was feeling cocky and far too sure of themselves, therefore they lost (Annotation: this expert opinion is coming from me who knows very little about football and didn’t even see the game).

What a life lesson! How do we teach our children self-esteem and confidence, yet also ensure that they develop humility and perspective?

This is a tricky balance indeed. I do believe that there is a recent trend toward the creation of over-entitled children and young adults who are incapable of accepting any responsibility for their actions. Why this is, I am not entirely sure, but it is one of those big parenting issues that I ponder regularly.

I am trying to come up with a strategy for encouraging self-confidence, yet thoughtfulness, humility, and perspective in my children. My kids are still young, so many of these ideas are plans for later years, but I have come up with a few things that I am hoping will help my children achieve this delicate balance:


+ Have them work a “real job” as soon as they are old enough. If you are afraid of work interfering with academics, then at least encourage a summer job.

+ Let them find and apply for their own job. Try not to interfere. That way the success, or lack of success, of their choice is their responsibility and not yours.

+ Before they are old enough for a “real” job, have them babysit, mow lawns, shovel snow, sell lemonade…anything! The point is to encourage them to learn to earn and save money.

(More thoughts on kids and work coming in a new post soon!).

+ Have them save and pay for their own “extras.” (One tangential note: TV-free kids are exposed to far less marketing than kids who watch TV, so their list of “must-haves” tends to be shorter.)

+ Give them chores at home. Even at a very young age, children are capable of doing something to help out. Personally I don’t believe in paying for chores since this just leads to a bargaining battle if you ask them to do anything extra (“But how much will you pay me to empty the dishwasher today?”). I feel that chores are simply part of living in a household and should not be remunerated. DO let them know however, that you appreciate their chores and how much their work helps you and the other members of the family.

+ Encourage volunteer work. Volunteering yourself is the best way to get them interested in volunteering. Volunteering (and working) can introduce them to people they would never normally encounter. I think it is important for children to actually see that there are people less fortunate then themselves. This is a hard concept for a child to absorb without actually experiencing it himself, and it is a big step towards developing compassion and a desire to help others.

+ Teach kids about different charities and what they do. Have them contribute part of their allowance or savings to the charity of their choice, or start a Candy Bank to earn money for charity. Here is a good book that we have about kid-friendly charities:

+ Buy books about other countries of the world. Books can be a wonderful starting point for discussions that help children understand how people live in other countries. Here are some good ones:

For more book suggestions, please read my International Children’s Book Day post.

+ If possible, travel internationally.

+ Teach kids a skill that they can later teach to or share with others. Knitting, crochet, french knitting (aka. knitting mushroom), or of course a musical instrument are all good ones. Sharing something that we are good at instills confidence and feels good to all concerned.


How interesting that a sports event has actually inspired me to examine life! Perhaps pigs really can fly after all.

PS. Any regular readers might notice that I have mentioned these books a few times before. I don’t mean to be boring, but I feel they are such a fascinating and valuable addition to any home library. Plus they just seem to “fit” with a lot of things that I write about.

Photo (NOT of the Superbowl) thanks to Wikimedia Commons and photographer Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson.

4 Responses to “The Superbowl and Flying Pigs”

  1. Tamara says:

    Sometimes I am overwhelmed with all these good things to teach our kids. It seems so hard to strike the right balance between self-confidence and humility. It is nice to see some concrete steps to help teach them.

    I was talking to some friends yesterday and I was the only one who has her preschoolers doing regular chores. I am a huge fan of non-optional non-paid chores for kids. My boys tasks are pretty simple and only take a few minutes a day but they are their responsibility and they increase as they get older and more capable.

  2. Diane says:

    Great post! I especially agree with the importance of volunteering with your children- to model for them that it is possible for one person to make a difference in their community and in the world.

    Great book recommendations! I will have to get A Life Like Mine from the library. A School Like Mine is also very interesting and eye opening for the whole family!

    As a side note, I felt an odd compulsion to watch the Super Bowl this year- I think it was a nostalgic flashback to my childhood years in the 70’s watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play in the Super Bowl. We watched about five minuets with our crappy reception and got bored. Well, the kids got bored and I was too freaked out that they were watching all those commercials. We just went and had hot dogs and french onion dip (which was just as disappointing as watching the game).

  3. Great post…the chore bit really hit home with me, as there’s a child-centric ‘entitlement’ trend that really needs to be held in check…

    I wrote about this ‘virtual chore chart’ awhile back called My Reward Board because she’s big on everything being ‘fun’ (another mistake I made early on…from math skills/fraction pizza to experiential learning, no regrets, it’s just NOT what school is like)

    Anyway, the ‘novelty’ quickly wore off, as she huffs in pushback-mode, “gawd, mom, you’re the ONLY one that MAKES me do all this stuff.”

    Yeah, right. Get me for child labor.

  4. Oh…and btw, I’m in Tamara’s camp…seems sometimes kids feel they should be ‘paid for existing’ vs. contributing to the family…(whether dog walking, putting empty cans in the recycle bin, or simply not givin’ a bunch of lip when asked to pick up wet towels on the floor)

    All too often I hear this kind of ‘what are you going to give me for doing such & such’ come out of kids’ mouths…(grades, chores, whatever) and I feel like a brontosaurus, thinking, ‘say what?’

    Between peer to peer comparative analysis taking hold, and media reinforcement of both attitudes AND lifestyles (how often have you seen a kids’ room on TV that’s NOT trashed/piled high with a “this is just how I am, step over it” persona?) that kind of ‘entitlement’ mindset has been the gripe of many a mom’s night out.

    In fact, lately, I’ve been asking some research interns to pay close attention to these media cues and one of the things we noticed in the sitcoms is that a ‘tidy’ room often equates with character portrayal as ‘nerd/neat freak, obsessively anal-retentive’ type…and a child that DOES help with chores sans power-whines is a ‘suck up’ or a ‘goody goody’…

    I know, I know, you’re ‘unplugged’ but a need for “counter-marketing” might still take hold somewhere in the peer realm…

    Personally, when my daughter sheds her junk all over my room or borrows things without asking w/out returning them in lieu of repeating, I sheepishly admit I do the same thing right back so that she ‘gets it’…(immature maybe, but purposeful and effective, heehe)

    As she incredulously stomps into a hissy not being able to ‘find’ a brush or something, inevitably the light bulb comes on and she flashes that ‘glare’ at me re: the point being made, as she’s served a slice of humble pie. (of course, she’ll never admit it) ;-)

    Ah, the tween/teen years…

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