Toddlers Are Getting Way Too Many 'Diplomas' These Days

dog diplomaI have two children, the oldest is five. So far we’ve gotten numerous official-looking diplomas for them, for actually accomplishing very little.

My daughter received a diploma for “graduating” nursery school. Which raises a question: How do you flunk nursery school? Do you not play well with others? Do you forget to clean up at cleanup time? Do you confuse circle time for some other fundamental, rudimentary shape?


I didn’t feel, honestly, that she really earned this diploma. And she didn’t either; judging by how her big post-graduation concern was about eating as much cake as possible.

My daughter received another official diploma looking thingy for “completing” a two-hour course about how to be a big sister, administered by a local hospital. (We attended before the birth of our son, to get her mentally prepared.) What did she do during this course? Color in a coloring book, and learn one basic rule: don’t pick up the baby! That’s about it. I am glad we went, of course, but did she really deserve a diploma for it?

My son, however, might just take the cake. He received what is essentially a diploma for getting circumcised. It has his name, date of the ceremony, some purple words in calligraphy, and even an official-looking gold foil star. Like a real diploma.

But what did he really do to earn this? I mean, I’m glad it went well, of course, but he was like eight days old at the time. His big issue, to that point, was that he had never really straightened his legs out. And this he did with aplomb, but still.  

And this raises another issue: who, I wondered, is his diploma actually for? As proud of our son as we are we’re not going to put this on our wall. I also very much doubt he will want to put this on his wall when he’s older.

People blame today’s parents for rewarding their children for accomplishing very little. Okay, fair enough. But what about the fact that everyone else rewards them too, also for doing very little? It kind of degrades the value of what a real diploma means.

I mean, I would know. I didn’t get my first real diploma until I graduated eighth grade. I guess we were more old school back then.

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