Everybody’s Doing It, Doesn’t Make it Right


Cheaters. Varsity Blues, greed, mega drama of poor choices and lost voices.

It makes me sick reading aboutparentswho gamed college admissions. Not like we didn’t already know about some stuff, but this took it way over the top. I’m sure you agree. In fact, by now probably we are all saturated with the obnoxious stories, only details remaining. Or maybe not, I’m not sure anymore.

I still can’t believe when I read the Moms in question are freaked out by the reasonable response to their poor behavior. I still can’t believe the Moms in question are making excuses. I still can’t believe they all did it, anyway. Good grief, Bad Parenting 101. Are you kidding me?

Is cheating so common to rich and not so rich, maybe less monied too, that we take it for granted? is this becoming the rule, not the exception? Are we to believe we are now a nation of cheaters? And it’s ok? Why bother applying for college anyway. Just pay someone else to write the application and essays, for sure, fake any videos probably, testing, no problem, why bother to study with tutors, just pay off the proctors. Or better yet have a ‘body double’ sit in and take the test. Easy A. Awful.

I’m all about forgiveness, but on my freak out scale, this scandal ranks off the chart. Claiming disabilities, faking athletic status, cheating on exams by inflating scores, changing answers, etc. A lot of cheaters in this food chain. Follow the money trail, or maybe not yet, too many characters in this bad movie.

I need to separate sweet characters onscreen with real life people who made gross mistakes, hurting lots of people and causing untold collateral damage.

This is bigger to me than forgiving a couple or lots of bad Moms and bad Dads, too, they were all in on the deceptions. I have no idea how to fix this mess, if it is indeed far reaching and now systemic. I have no way of knowing how long it has been going on and the numbers involved. And how, I as one person, besides being aware, can make one iota of a difference? I don’t always have a snap answer to a complex problem.

I wonder if most or all of these kids acknowledged what their parents did, ostensibly on their behalf. I have a feeling most knew, or must have had an inking? I mean if you don’t know how to row and your parents placed you on equipment to fake a video to get on the team, how could you not know? Of course, at least a couple knew, I bet more, lots more. Do you think all knew and just went along with it, shared values?

Because the kids were likely raised with entitlement, they were used to having most everything done for them, so maybe this was no big deal at all. But then, they were complicit. Whether they liked or didn’t like school, did they cheat or know cheating was done for their admission? On whose behalf, really? How important is status? I guess, very. I know how I did on a test, that included my recent driver’s exam. Of course I knew. And if missing six was changed to none wrong, I still knew. Cheaters and liars, the whole bunch. No excuses. How lame.

Everybody’s Doing It.

Doesn’t make it right. What is right, anyway?

The recent New York Times article I linked in the beginning of this blog (it fit everywhere) really made me think: “How parents are robbing their children of adulthood”. Perfect timing. No more helicopter parents hovering over kids, full tilt boogie a lot more than I ever realized, parents now called “snowplows”. And they will do anything to get their kids into top tier schools. And did.

A couple days ago I was asked to write an article for a parenting blog, based around these two questions: “What are some lessons parents can learn from their kids?” And “How can you help prevent a child from becoming a jerk?” I easily responded to the first question, then had to really think how to respond to the idea of calling our kids jerks. Then I liked the question. Varsity Blues is all about parents teaching their kids to be jerks, by their poor modeling of no ethics, no empathy for others, lying, cheating and obnoxiously vaunting wealth and power.

The current college cheating scandal is on our minds. Not just because these people were so stinking rich and blew obscene amounts of money to get what they wanted for their children. But partly because of their audacity to think they were better than everyone else, more deserving and could get away with doing whatever they pleased and no consequences. They practiced what to say if caught, how to lie.

Everybody’s doing it does not make it right!

We can help a child not become a jerk by modeling good ethics, respect for fairness and not cheating.

We can help a child by reaching out with forgiveness to those who hurt us.

We can help a child by working hard, being a champion in every way.

We can help a child by teaching to stand up for what is right.

We can help a child grow up trusting in the goodness and mercy of others.

We can help a child by showing respect for elders, those less fortunate.

We can help a child by modeling eating well, sleeping sweet dreams.

We can help a child by encouraging lifelong learning.

We can help a child by stressing there is no failure, only feedback.

We can help a child by insisting on appropriate (child selected) chores.

Children too used to parents monitoring their every move, planning and scheduling every activity, resolving any and every issue do not become independent, and likely earn the “jerk” label. How unfortunate our society has become one of many hovering parents who do not play fair and kids who may not know how to resolve their own problems if their parents do it for them.

Who bribe, buy their way into what their kids may or may not want to do, whether on the athletic field, play or musical, or into another school house.

Consistency, family meetings, checking in with teachers or counselors may be needed, but in my opinion, starting out right, stressing what we hold to be true and right, our values, our religious or spiritual beliefs, our mission in life makes the difference. No kiddo jerks allowed. Not today. Not ever.

Our children are all scholars-in-waiting.

I see all our children as scholars in waiting, but doing it the right way, hard work, no cheating. I have faith and optimism most parents create a glorious recipe for a purposeful life filled with joy and love.

I never played the role of parent on t.v. and our life college life hacks were not from Instagram or Pinterest, our kids shared dorm rooms as a reward for working and getting good grades in high school and being all around great people. They had no sponsorships on You Tube, no cosmetic line, instead skiied, swam, were in band, worked at a car wash, one in a fish store. Their values were solid.

Our four kids worked, played sports, screwed up, of course, but were great kids, then parents. Our children told us we were the strictest of all the parents. Well, I suppose we were, or they got caught a lot. Later they told us a few more things we missed along the way. Poor kids; I was a Principal then and had radar. Or I think! What’s important is their values, not grade points. I never expected them to be perfect, just not jerks, which for us meant being honest and fair. I caught prank phone calls, toilet paper fiasco which didn’t occur, cutting class, missing practices. Well maybe a little more.

We want children to stand on their own, growing from a state of dependence to independence. We are all teachers, one way or another, modeling goodness and sense of purpose for our kiddos.The key is always modeling. We model what we want our kiddos to see and hopefully emulate through moral and ethical values, hard work, championship spirit, never giving up, and most of all, not cheating!

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

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