You’ve seen them on social media, generally labeled as #firstworldproblems or #middleclassproblems. Odds are, you’ve posted one or two yourself. The unifying theme of these complaints is that they’re not really problems at all. They’re about how difficult it is to deal with an embarrassment of riches and blessings. When we post comments like these, at least we sometimes have the self-awareness to add the hashtag to acknowledge that we shouldn’t be complaining at all… but here we are, complaining to the Internet about the pettiest of petty problems.
The bigger problem (an actual problem): kids are monkey-see, monkey-do, even when you think they’re not watching. (ESPECIALLY when you think they’re not watching.) And what they’re seeing from adults is a steady stream of complaints about every aspect of life. They may begin to imitate adults in a joking manner, or as humblebrags… but it’s easy to fall into the trap of pessimism, and always finding the dark cloud amongst the greatest silver linings. How terrible it is to be chosen for the basketball team (all that practice is exhausting!) These brand-new shoes sure are tough to break in! Classwork comes easy to me, and here I am lugging all these textbooks home every night anyway!
Over these last few weeks of the semester, especially as we get into the season of giving and gratitude, listen closely to the kids around you. Make sure that while they’re thinking about the things for which they’re thankful, they’re also cognizant of when they’re complaining about the things they should recognize as blessings. Being aware of their own relative lack of suffering will also help them open their eyes to the actual suffering of their friends and neighbors, and those less fortunate throughout the community and world.