Today’s kids, Generation Z as they are being coined at the moment, are going to face a huge wake up call when they grow up and leave the nest. Personally I think they should be called Generation E or The Entitled because they are truly growing up in an Era of Entitlement, and as parents, we are to blame.
Let’s face it, the kids of today, well…they’re pretty spoiled for the most part. I know there are exceptions, but let’s don’t go there, I’m talking the typical American kid here. They feel entitled while they happily grow up during the Era of Entitlement. Mine are no exception and it honestly drives me insane (so I guess insanity is an option). We all want the best for our children so we give them stuff, we let them do things, we want them to have a better life than we did, but are we, as parents and educators, really doing the right thing or are we doing them, and the future of our country, a disservice?
Hear me out. I love my kids just as much as you do, but we’re raising a generation of brats that think life is all gum drops, lollipops, and unicorn farts when, in fact, it is not. We give in to picky eaters, we take them to amusement parks, buy them new bicycles, sign them up for dance (or whatever) classes, and we literally move heaven and earth (and our work schedules around) to accommodate their every whim and attend all of their functions. They are the sun, and we are merely planets. Why? Because we love them of course. But you know what? Our parents didn’t do this crap. If a child acted poorly and simply apologized, that wasn’t enough. It was appreciated, but it wasn’t enough. It shouldn’t be enough now. And because it wasn’t enough, most of us grew up a little more ready for the real world than these children will that are being raised during this Era of Entitlement.
You know why they won’t be ready? It’s our fault. As parents, grown ups, educators, and mentors, we’re failing this generation by teaching them that everyone’s a winner because everyone is not a winner at everything. You win when you work hard. The end. Think about it. You can just “join” sports teams now, no try outs required because there’s a rec center in every town. Field Day? Everyone gets a ribbon, even that super smart kid (that might be your kid’s boss one day) that runs slower than a snail. Yup, he gets a ribbon too…for coming in last place. That kid should be getting his reward in the classroom because that’s where he’s working hard and that’s where his focus should be (because smart people rock). The kid that outran everyone in that race? That’s the one that should get the ribbon, along with the two that followed behind him. We should be guiding our children to do the things they love, and those that we know they will succeed in. We should NOT be telling them they are perfect and that they are great at everything. No one is. I’m a grammar ninja, but I can’t “math”, I’m probably the slowest runner on the planet, and I can’t lift heavy stuff. I know my limits, so should they. We’re not teaching them that.
B used to gripe about this Era of Entitlement and the “Everyone’s a Winner” thing a lot. I used to tell him that they were just babies and no one wanted to hurt their feelings. Unfortunately, he took that to heart too much and he’s just as guilty as I am now of being an “offender”. If the babies have acted up all day, but he really wants to go to the beach or on a bike ride, he’ll give in and take them anyway. If I put my foot down and say Bubby needs to try what I’m cooking for dinner, I’ll make him try it, but he won’t eat it and says he’s starving, I’ll give in and make him something else. Enough!
It’s not just us. If you’re reading this, you know you’re guilty too. Sure, we all discipline our kids, but we still give in way too often and we’re doing them, we’re doing all of us, a huge disservice. It’s better to teach them now, the way we, Generation X and The Millennials, were taught. We’re not all winners. We are not all good at everything. If we were bad (especially we Gen X’ers), we didn’t get stuff. We were ready for the world. Will this generation be? I think not. Let’s stop raising our children in an Era of Entitlement and start raising them to be future leaders in a world of equality. Let them be the change. If they are going to do that, we’ll need to do some changing first.
I’m ready to make that change. Who’s with me?