The Choice of Being Able or Disabled

BY Domenick Maglio, PhD, Traditional Realist

      The returning wounded warriors from the Middle East inspire all of us. These soldiers are saddled with severe injuries that would overwhelm almost anyone. The loss of arms, legs, sight, facial disfigurement and devastating head injuries are more commonplace than ever. These injuries would have killed soldiers in the past but because of modern technology they survive. They are physically surviving but they have to overcome incredible handicaps.

      These soldiers are disabled through acts of war although most choose to fight through rehabilitation to become able. This same type of persevering to overcome birth defects and accidents that handicap a person are battled everyday.

Oscar Pistorius (Michael Steele/AFP/Getty Images)

   Oscar Pistorius of South Africa competed in the 400 meter Olympic run against world class runners although he has two amputated legs. There are many other amazing stories seen in the Para-Olympics where people who have overcome great odds are shown to be able competitors, not disabled.

      Too many people are choosing to be disabled when they have been blessed with good health and an abundance of wealth as compared to populations of the past. We are becoming too soft to face the challenges that life gives us.

      Parents cannot buy their child’s future success. Parental softness can partially be attributed to worldwide affluence but the major cause is the slacking of parental training. It is only by parents setting high work expectations for the child that he will reach his own goals and dreams.

      Permissive Materialism (PM), laidback childrearing has spread throughout the world. This approach is less demanding in every way than our more traditional parenting. It has removed the responsibility of parents to train their children in confronting and solving of problems and dealing with difficult periods of life.

      Instead parents are supposed to be friends with their children by giving them freedom to make their own decisions however, they are not prepared to make difficult decisions. They are given every material item they desire even these goods are counter productive stunting the child’s sense of reality and mental maturity.

      The PM child rearing methods have been practiced worldwide for over half a century. It makes children susceptible to selecting a life style that produces disability rather than giving them the strength of character to become self-reliant.

      There is an epidemic of people who have no idea of the effort it takes to reach a goal. These instant gratification individuals are all around us. The children raised under the PM approach range from Baby Boomers to today’s youngsters. They have been given every expectation to believe the world will take care of them in the same way that their parents did. This is not necessarily true.

     Their parents have protected these people from dealing with the laws of reality. These overindulged invalids of the PM child rearing have inflated self-esteem and an almost non-existent work ethic. Most of them are easy prey to join the government disability ranks for a free lunch.

      When parents are unwilling to allow their children the discomfort of studying on their own and facing the natural consequences of failing tests, they are unconsciously creating a mentally weak child. In the short run the child may rationalize that he is as smart as the other students who do well but in the long run he has to use more drastic excuses to hide from himself his inability to measure up to his peers.

      The lack of parental intensity in not following through on the expectations for their child is weakening the child’s belief in himself. Without parents forcefully demanding the child do the work he does not want to do, eventually the parent becomes an accomplice to the child’s inability to independently function in the adult world.

      This parental apathy is similar to a child falling into a pool, struggling to stay above water while the parent casually instructs him to kick harder as he sinks deeper into the water. When a child is drowning in his own laziness, lies and excuses it is the duty of the parent to rise to the occasion and stop this destructive behavior. There is no longer time to cajole the child.

      Once a person is revived from nearly drowning he is often shocked back to reality. This is a wake up call to put their lives in order. They have another chance to learn to commit themselves to persevere until they reach their immediate objectives. After short term goals are accomplished, by doing one’s work with vigor, a person realizes he has the ability to reach his dreams.

      The movie “Rudy” was a true story of a young adult who had a dream. Since he was a child he saw himself playing football for Notre Dame. Even though he had significant learning difficulties he went to Holy Cross Community College to learn how to study. He chose the school because it was next door to his beloved, Notre Dame. Even though he applied himself to his studies he was rejected from Notre Dame three times before being accepted.

      As a physically unimpressive and untalented athlete he made the team of his dreams only on the force of his will. Through his willingness to give 100% effort at every team scrimmage he was rewarded by being allowed to suit up and play in the last game of his senior year. On the last play of the game Rudy Rutegger sacked the quarterback and was carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates to the applause of the fans.

      This true story should be a reminder to parents that only through their child’s efforts will he or she will be able to choose and reach the chosen goal. The parents should not allow their child to choose to be disabled.

Domenick Maglio

Dr. Domenick Maglio
Dr. Domenick Maglio
Dr. Domenick Maglio holds a Ph.D. in Human Development with more than forty years of experience in the field of education and mental health. He is the author of Essential Parenting and Invasion Within. For the last twenty-five years, Dr. and Mrs. Maglio have resided in Hernando County, Florida, where they raised their four children.

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