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Parents’ intervention deprives children of life lessons

Parents’ intervention deprives children of life lessons (credit: Juan Fernandez/) Parents’ intervention deprives children of life lessons (credit: Juan Fernandez/)
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According to an article published in The Huffington Post, Colorado Springs canceled its annual Easter Egg Hunt due to too much anticipated parental intervention.

Ideally, kids participating in the hunt search around Bancroft Park for plastic eggs containing candy while parents sit back and watch from behind a gate. In recent years, however, parents have broken the rules and have started jumping the gate to help their children find eggs.

Since bringing parents into an Easter Egg Hunt is like dropping an atomic bomb — not only does it make things end in seconds, but it starts an arms race — the organizers decided to cancel this year’s hunt, much to the dismay of children and rule-abiding parents.

Regardless of whether the hunt was canceled or not, interfering parents are depriving their children of important lessons and life experiences.

I can understand what motivates these interfering parents, particularly those of toddlers and smaller kids, to break the rules. The Easter Egg Hunt itself isn’t fair. The older, bigger, and more aggressive kids have an advantage over other children, and there’s a good chance that some kids might not get any candy without parental intervention. It’s not like the bigger or more aggressive kids deserve the candy more than their smaller and more timid peers, so the egg hunt is not fair. Nobody knows this better, and is more outraged by the unfairness, than the parents of a child who went home without any candy.

If the goal of the egg hunt is just to give out free candy to kids, then parents would have good reason to jump the fence and grab up the candy. But aren’t there better solutions? If candy were the only goal, the best solution would be to distribute the candy equally amongst all the children and cancel the hunt. Or if you wanted to keep the hunt, why not have all the candy the children find go into a collective pot which would be divided evenly at the end amongst all the children?

While all of the above might make the egg hunt more equitable, even the interfering parents at Colorado Springs would balk at the idea of a collective pot because the hunt and its competitive nature is part of the town’s tradition; preserving such a tradition has some value.

The unfortunate part is that the competitive nature of the Easter Egg Hunt tradition primarily benefits the children, and parental intervention deprives them of that benefit.

If nothing else, the hunt teaches kids that life isn’t always fair and that there will be times when you try your hardest but you won’t succeed. It’s obvious now, but for many of us when we were younger, it was counter-intuitive. Of course, the sooner we realized that we would never be astronauts or sports stars, the sooner we were able to move on and tackle the real challenges in life we had been ignoring. Hopefully for most of us, this moment came long before we entered Carnegie Mellon, so we didn’t have an existential crisis when, even after pulling two all-nighters, we didn’t earn a good grade on an exam. There are no A’s for effort in life.

By sheltering their kids from failure, the aggressive parents at the Easter Egg Hunt at Colorado Springs are setting their children up for disappointment and disillusionment later in life. And for what, just candy? It’s not worth it.