I’m reading a book entitled Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — And More Miserable Than Ever Before, by Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. It’s pretty interesting, actually. It deals with a concept that we’ve talked about on the show in the past; that we seem to have a generation of entitled children.
I find this particularly interesting because we are kind of at a “crash point” right now, because we are in such an economic turndown. Most parents cannot even almost meet the expectations of kids — be they 5 or 25 years of age — because with job loss, housing foreclosures, gas prices through the roof … etc… it’s tough enough just to make ends meet!
But it’s more than just about money. It appears that we’ve lapsed into a phase where we reward children just simply for existing, rather than for achieving or performing. If you don’t think so, just follow a Little League baseball team or a small fry basketball league, and you’ll see that every kid on the team gets a trophy at the end of the year, regardless of whether they ever won a game or even scored a run or a basket. Now I’m all about building self-esteem, but doesn’t there have to be some connection between conduct and confidence, performance and reward and between choice and consequence?
And I guess the real question is: Is it too late? Or, do we need to shift into some serious “re-parenting,” where we make sure that we instill in our kids an understanding of how the world really works? You may let your kids get away with murder because they are “absolutely the most precious, wonderful, cute and adorable” little tykes who ever walked the face of the earth, but when they get in the dog-eat-dog real world of competition for grades, jobs and advancement in life, they may be in for a shock. Is it possible that we are cheating, and in fact, crippling our kids by giving them too much in exchange for too little?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m deciding that we need to do a show on this topic, and have a good, honest dialogue among parents. So if you want to participate, leave a comment, and be sure to share your thoughts here.
Maybe you’re someone that recognizes a problem and needs help, or you’re someone who wants to debate the topic. Either way, let’s get together.