Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do, re, me, me, ME

This article, The me, me, me generation: Have youths in America bought into 'entitlement' mentality?, struck a huge raw nerve with me today.


"I see no evidence that today's young people feel much attachment to duty or to group cohesion. Instead ... young people have been consistently taught to put their own needs first and to focus on feeling good about themselves. This is not an attitude conducive to following social rules or favoring the group's needs over the individual's."--Jean M. Twenge


Twenge agrees with the Harris boys that a cultural shift has occurred in recent decades that has created a mythical adolescence that should be free from responsibility or hard work — and that they should have everything they want without necessarily working for it.

"Kids didn't raise themselves, they didn't make this stuff up. Sometimes people think I'm blaming young people. That's not the way it happened," Twenge said.

13 comments:

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

I usually feel like I am not part of this problem -- like I am too un-considering of my kids' likes/wants/needs. Presents for birthday and Christmas are very small. Clothes are hand-me-downs or garage sale.

Then I talk to my parents and they see my parenting style as "permissive" compared to their "authoritarian" style.

Well, I do let them watch Simpsons, so there you go.

cornnut32 said...

"Harris said labeling young people as entitled is a stereotypical oversimplification, though there is some truth to it."

i absolutely agree with this. being in my early twenties, i fall right smack in the middle of the "generation me" as it is called. there is some truth to this. SOME truth. i went to a high school that took in a zip code that had more millionaires per capita than any other area in the nation. i know first hand the entitlement of a 16 year old that owns a hummer, a 1967 mustang, and a maserati. but i can also say, that while this exists, i knew many many more kids (and now young adults) that do not have that attitude. kids that work hard. kids like my little sister who got a full-time job as soon as she could and had been working part time and babysitting since she was 12 so she could pay to play volleyball. we need to have more faith in our youth and in our young adults.

just like the CEOs on wall street are the minority of adults their age, so are those young adults that feel they are entitled to whatever they want. my husband and i work hard for what we have. we don't have a lot. but we are blessed. and we have what we need.

cornnut32 said...

dalene,
just out of curiosity, what kind of a raw nerve did it hit? do agree that this generation is selfish and entitled, or do you believe they generally are not and don't like that they are labeled as such?

dalene said...

As for how I feel about kids in this generation I see both kinds in the kids I know.

It struck a nerve because while I could have written Jane's comment: "I usually feel like I am not part of this problem -- like I am too un-considering of my kids' likes/wants/needs. Presents for birthday and Christmas are very small. Clothes are hand-me-downs or garage sale.

Then I talk to my parents and they see my parenting style as "permissive" compared to their "authoritarian" style.

Well, I do let them watch Simpsons, so there you go
" (Kids mostly wear hand-me-downs, if they want anything more than basics they have to pay with their own money. We pay for one sport and for music lessons, they have to pay for half of band or choir tours, snowboard passes if they want them--snowboard equipment is all hand-me-down--and missions. They're own their own for college--but they are encouraged to earn scholarships and will probably will qualify for grants)--I pay auto insurance if they get the good-student/good driver discount, if not they make up the difference, etc.), I have seen some of this in my home: "I see no evidence that today's young people feel much attachment to duty or to group cohesion. Instead ... young people have been consistently taught to put their own needs first and to focus on feeling good about themselves. This is not an attitude conducive to following social rules or favoring the group's needs over the individual's."

And it breaks my heart.

Of course my instinct is to blame myself--perhaps I should have been the taskmaster my parents were (the one I rebelled against by adopting a different parenting style).

As my kids grow up and start leaving the nest I'm in a period of second guessing. My flaws as a mother seem to stand out in stark relief against any strengths I might have and it's painful.

When I read this piece it just seemed to confirm that feeling I have "You're doing it wrong."

La Yen said...

Go read the latest letter from your Elder. He is capable and doing all he can for the betterment of society, not for himself. Because you taught him to.

i i eee said...

Dalene, you're a great mom. Teens have been putting "me" first for a few decades now. I think though with the high rate of divorce, and the examples of parents breaking up families just so THEY can put "me" first as well -- that's where the problem begins if you ask me.

Every teenager will have some sort of phase of brattiness. Just hope that it ends with a phase.

~j. said...

The people who contributed to this article went through their own, but they've forgotten. I'm chalking this whole thing up to a great, big, grumpy "Kids These Days...".

wendy said...

I don't like the overgeneralizing of the article, studies or not. There is still a lot of goodness and selflessness and work ethics amongst our youth. I like how you put it, ~j.

I love the Rebelution.

And Dalene, I can see how second-guessing would come as kids leave the nest (it comes with every parenting stage--you've helped me see that). I don't know your kids, but it sure has seemed like they are doing great and that you are a wonderful Mom. Commenters above know you better than me, and say it with surety!

wendy said...

Oh yeah . . . I meant to add, I CERTAINLY had an extensively long entitlement period, and I was born before their study group, so I think a lot of it is a natural part of growing up.

cabesh said...

I'm technically in that entitlement generation, but I'm an oldest child, which I think makes a difference. i remember the struggles my parents went through (and still do) and never felt entitled to anything--my younger siblings, and sibling-in-laws, well I see it more in them.

Do I feel I have a right to a nice home, car, electronics....the answer is yes IF I am willing to work and sacrifice to the point where I'm capable of having those things. So, maybe I'm a medium? Yes, I think I deserve them, but only after I've put in the work for them.

Now, the real question for me is what values am I passing on to my kids? I certainly try to give them more than I had (because I really didn't have much). Sometimes I think I actually fight more against the grandparents thinking that the grandkids need more of everything. But, we try to help our children understand the cost of what they have and to be grateful for it all.

Waldo said...

Hey dalene, it's waldo. The first thing I need to say is that all those kids are wrong, because the only person entitled to freebies from life is ME. (and La Yen- she gets all of my freebies).

But seriously (tip your waitress), I was struck by the comments about "kids today" lacking a sense of duty or cohesion. I get both kinds in my job- I get the kids who enlist because they want to get the GI bill in two years and are only in it for themselves, and I see the other side- kids who have a sense of duty and obligation to their country (or something). But regardless of what kind of young Soldier I get, I see a lot of this attitude of entitlement every day at work.

Here's where I get to be old and crotchety... When I went to Basic Training (lo these many years ago) I remember being told that being "an individual" was bad in the context of unit success. "Doing your own thing" meant that you didn't care about the unit's mission and were being selfish. Recently, though, we were an Army of One (short-lived, thank heavens, because of old crusty Soldiers like me).

I think that some of this comes because a lot of parents aren't. They aren't instilling a sense of responsibility in their kids- they wait for schools or other leaders to do it. They aren't fighting the barrage of self-oriented media clips. And other stuff.

There are a lot of parents who are actively parenting, though, and are producing functioning adults. Dalene, I think you're in this category. And the very fact that you are concerned enough to write about it says a lot for your character, and I know your kids will have gotten that from you too.

Lisa said...

I worry about this SO much. Especially with my youngest. There have been some issues lately and as my husband and I discuss it, we go back to needing to teach her how not to be selfish. I am in big trouble with her!

I hope in the long run I am teaching what I should, but everyday there is something that tells me I am not.

dalene said...

I've loved reading the comments here. Thank you.

Jenny--you do have a way of putting things in perspective.

I need to separate what is simply a normal part of being a teenager and what needs to be corrected or channeled in a different direction. And I need to remember that whole agency thing.

Lisa--I think the "how not to be selfish" thing is particularly difficult with a youngest child. I'm sure you're doing great--good luck!