I don't have children of my own, but I agree with Jim Brady's letter about parental involvement in their child's education ("The real problem" Dec. 9). Too many parents want to blame schools and teachers when children fail or can't compete at the same level as their peers.

Society started down a bad road when we began rewarding children's athletic competitions with trophies for both teams regardless of who won or lost. Teaching every child that they are a winner even when they're not sends a message that there is no need to try harder or do better because life will hand them a "trophy" either way. Every competition has a winner and a loser, and the world doesn't usually reward losers. The secret is to learn to accept defeat graciously and to grow from the experience.

Children need to learn that their rewards in life, for the most part, will be proportional to their efforts toward success in school and in the way the treat others. Those lessons are best learned at home from parents who care enough to teach by example instead of shifting the blame elsewhere.

David Jensen