Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Entitlement Epidemic

On 7/19/07, the WSJ writer Jeffery Zaslow wrote about this epidemic and who is to blame. He asks why so many young people today have an inflated sense of entitlement? He lists the usual suspects including MTV – and especially the parents. He also says you can’t just blame Mr. Rogers just because Mr. Rogers was always telling kids they were “special”, Rogers also encouraged hard work and mutual respect. Mr. Zaslow says, “The entitlement problem has many roots: Indulgent parents continue to make their kids beds, pour their juice, give them so many choices as what they want for dinner, what TV and radio THEY want, and do their trouble-shooting for them long after they are capable of doing these things themselves. (Nowadays, maybe parents should show boys how to use condoms instead of a teacher in a classroom.) He believes this makes them dependent as young adults (and older adults, I might add). One university teacher calls the cell phone the” world’s longest umbilical cord”. Do I have one? No, nor will I ever. Might it save my life? Yes, and it could also take my life and others with me. It’s happening all around us.

Psychologist David Walsh, author of “No: Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear it and Ways Parents Can Say it” has led to a movement within his own state of Minnesota. This coalition called “Say Yes to No” is made up of parents and educators working to counteract the culture of “more, fast, easy and fun.” Entitled parents and kids suffer from DDD—“discipline deficit disorders”—with symptoms such as impatience and inflated expectations.

At Loyola University Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, Mary Burns teaches “Entitled to What? - A Reality Check for the Generation Entering Corporate America.”

Zaslow blames Consumer Culture like MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” celebrating acquisitive lifestyles. I personally believe that most of kids appearing on these shows should serve a minimum of military service so they might learn what the reality world is. Or spend a couple of years volunteering to work in some parts of Africa or some major U.S. cities ghettos. Oh, that’s right, we don’t have ghettos anymore. Everybody has money and privilege as shown nightly on MTV. Do kids ever watch The History Channel anymore?

Zazslow believes the self-esteem movement started in 1986 when California created a task force on self-esteem. Schools soon nationwide adopted “everybody’s a winner” philosophies. Teachers were told to tell students that she like their smiles, or the way they sat up straight, rather than focusing on, say, their failed spelling tests. One California grandmother wrote, “Her grandson wanted to play trumpet in the school talent show but hardly ever practiced. Every note he played was wrong but he thought he was “awesome.” At the show, so many acts were horrible, though the kids seemed proud. One child had the real talent, but her grandchild couldn’t see past his own self-absorption to even recognize it.

I believe today that good teachers remind students that “self-esteem comes from the self doing something worthy of esteem. If I were a teacher, I could praise you for having a good attitude. And for learning to read and write well, for being responsible, for having a work ethic in school, the community and home. Or for being be respectful of yourself and others. For speaking in class only when acknowledged and when you have something meaningful to tell or to ask.

Why hand out trophies for just attending an event? What’s to be learned by doing that? Trophy’s are for accomplishments such as good attendance and good grades. Competitions are held so kids learn to win honestly and to lose gracefully.

This is what too many kids have learned about entitlements and self-esteem: “Five binge-drinking deaths” on a college campus because most kids are just let loose when they get away from home, especially those who don’t have to work their way through schools. A 13 year old and a 26 year old teacher run off of together. Probably both spent too much time watching MTV. 15 year old kids, and younger, shooting whoever or whatever over some small acts they consider is disrespectful to their self-esteem. These shooting are happening with increasing regularity. Most violence is created by kids (and adults) who think themselves as being invincible and full of super-rated esteem. When they find out they were lied to by adults or their peers, they lose control of their anger and strike out.

Some will say I’m wrong and kids do these things when they lack self-esteem. Well, the, did anybody ever teach or tell them how to EARN self-esteem?

Good question.

Since proportionally, most of the threat to our wellbeing comes from the uneducated, understand that these aren’t the good old days of “Leave it to Beaver” when everybody went to school and had a reasonable respect for authority. Today, it takes a village to raise a kid. Why, because those who so carelessly brought them into this world leave them alone in their new world even though the “bringers” are physically present. Problem is that the village today is often run by idiots telling our kids to sell crack and shoot each other any time their “self esteem” has been disrespected.

Pop culture reeking of “disrespect” is ruining so many lives. They even encourage our kids to dress like idiots speeding us to a cultural genocide. Rapper types say “hey man, get some respect for yourself.” Get a “piece”, “double entendre), knock up another kid, mug somebody or steal a car. Sell some drugs, meth is in. It will soon make you crazy, but what the hey? Use that good looking smile and your “unique” hairdo and stylish baggy pants. What pieces of crap most of the pop culture rappers are and how unsettling they are to unstable family structures.

Real leaders trying to get the attention of kids today are considered by disrespectful kids as being “Uncle Toms” or old fashioned and not in step with todays “do it if it feels good culture.”

Only a select few had access to your brain back in the forties and fifties. Parents let teachers teach and teachers expected parents to parent. Today’s parent is often hardily appreciated unless the parent is permissive. Too permissive parents will eventually be ignored. The comic strip “Zits” portrays much of today’s youth. Today, too many of us are wrapped up in our own lives to recognize our responsibilities on many levels, not just child raising. Many teachers, at all levels, especially in college, have neither the skills nor ability to teach and lead. They get by by praising self-esteem and by telling kids how much they love them. Kids then get a false sense of security often signaling that they can do about anything they want and still be told how great a smile they have and no matter what, their closest kin and teachers will always remember them fondly and will always love them.

Since so many kids are good liars, they usually know when they are being lied to by their peers, teachers, leaders and parents. Many of them emulate the bad things they see in the adult world. It’s hard for kids and adults to always do the “right” things. But educated, a term I sometimes use loosely, or wise adults have no real excuse for failing to set good examples for youth to follow.

It’s past time for a lot of people to look closely in the mirror and see what they are really seeing. In most cases, it’s not too late to change themselves and the way they are bringing up their kids.

I think I change in some ways for the better each day. At least I try and I do look closely in the mirror. If you have kids in school, especially if your kid complains about the teacher, drop in unannounced, check in at the office ask to visit class and sit quietly in the back. After a couple of visits to your kid’s classroom you may learn something not always good.

But then, if you are a too permissive parent, you might not.

1 comment:

AdamB said...

At least I try and I do look closely in the mirror.