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Baby Boomer Parents Raising a Smug Generation

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Telegraph: The young people of today are more sure of themselves and the fact they will make excellent parents, partners and employees than their parents ever were.

But researchers, who studied the self-assessments of the Millenials, or Generation Y, warn that instilling children with such confidence could be simply setting them up for a fall.

They warn that many young people could sink into depression when they are confronted with life's harsher realities.

Professor Jean Twenge, head of psychology at San Diego University, and lead author of a report about young people's self-confidence and views about the future, said: "Boomer parents are more likely than any group of parents before them to praise children - and maybe overpraise them.

"This can foster great expectations or perhaps even smugness about one's chances of reaching the stars at work and in family life.

"Their narcissism could be a recipe for depression later when things don't work out as well as they expected."

Prof Twenge and her team compared the 1975 and 2006 results from an annual US survey called Monitoring the Future which polls high school students about their views on life.

They found that a third more 17 to 20-year-olds today believe they work harder than their parents did and will be better than them when it comes to being parents, spouses and work colleagues - earning them the nickname the Smug Generation.

Many teenagers appear to think that future success will be handed to them on a plate: They claim to do 20 per cent less school homework than their parents said they did in 1975, said the report.

Professor Twenge, who has written a book about young people today called Generation Me, said that modern culture appeared to be teaching the young to be over-confident.

She said: "A growing body of research shows that today's young generation is highly individualistic and has very high expectations. It will be interesting to see if their expectations are met as they enter adult life and the workforce."

Fellow researcher Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia, said: "Previous generations had more realistic ambitions. Today's teenagers have been taught to shoot for the moon without being warned that many of them will not make it."

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Charles November 21, 2008, 10:04 AM

Discipline was replaced with over-indulgence. Competition and hard work were replaced with false self-esteem building. Why are we surprised by the result?

lolz November 21, 2008, 11:53 AM

ditto Charles.

Mom November 21, 2008, 1:38 PM

Can’t blame the parents for this mess.

The majority of them (us) were unwilling participants. The schools and social service system took away our authority and placed it square in the hands of our children.

Kids were being rewarded with “Pizza/Movie Day” at school each week simply for showing up, and then they topped things off with an over blown activity once a month simply to celebrate the existance of these children. On a daily basis, pointless awards & certificate were handed out like candy on Halloween.

Schools pushed self esteem like it was a drug, and in no time at all there was an epidemic of self esteem overdoses!

This was common practice in all schools, even in my tiny rural community where (up until that time) kids were raised with the same set of values and guidelines generation after generation.

But when things began to change, any parent who dared to roll their eyes at these new age (and completely unnecessary) motivation building practices (let alone actually COMPLAIN) was perceived to be a neglectful and potentionally unfit parent! At the time, a lable such as that could get a parent into all kinds of trouble. REAL trouble.

Socially at the time, people were becomming more aware of child abuse in all forms and beginning to understand the long term affects that abuse could have on children who were put at risk.

No one in their right mind would argue against the attempt to empower children to speak up for themselves and overcome the threats of their abusers if a child was indeed being harmed in any way.

But the way schools & the social service system went about it was all wrong!

Their intentions were good, but the outcome was like nothing parents had ever had to deal with at any other time in history.

In order to get kids to come forward about abuse they had to be convinced that they were worthy of NOT being treated badly. “You’re special. You’re wonderful. You’re perfect just the way you are. You deserve happiness. You have the right to be heard. Your voice counts. Your feelings matter.”

All good stuff…..in principal. But then they threw in the follow up to that.

“Parents aren’t perfect. Parents make mistakes. If your parents do things that make you feel sad or mad and you want it to stop, you CAN do something about it. You can say ‘No’. And if that doesn’t stop them, then you can tell a teacher and they’ll make it stop.”

In trying to identify the children who actually NEEDED to hear this information for the reasons intended, an entire generation of kids who were NOT being abused were brainwashed into feeling “entitled” to MORE from thier parents.

Parents who did not comply with their child’s demands were faced with threats of being “turned in” to the authorities by the child! False accusations of abuse and neglect ran rampant.

Child Protective Services began showing up at front doors of good and loving parents everywhere! And because it was first and foremost the childs word over the parents, the process of vindicating an innocent parent could take months or years.

Fighting the social service system to clear ones name cost not only thousands of dollars in legal expenses, but it often cost people their jobs, their marriages, and most certainly their reputation within the community.

Considering the level of personal injury that could come from discipling ones child (or daring to say “No” to them) it became clear to everyone that not only was it merely EASIER to give in and play along, it was often the only safe option.

It was a horrible, horrible, horrible time to be a parent. One wrong move and your child had the power to destroy everything in your life. Only the bravest of the brave fought to take back authority over their kids. Those who fought the hardest were assumed to be the most guilty….and they served their jail time with pride for not backing down.


Mom November 21, 2008, 2:12 PM

Can’t blame the parents for this mess.

The majority of them (us) were unwilling participants. The schools and social service system took away our authority and placed it square in the hands of our children.

Kids were being rewarded with “Pizza/Movie Day” at school each week simply for showing up, and then they topped things off with an over blown activity once a month simply to celebrate the existance of these children. On a daily basis, pointless awards & certificate were handed out like candy on Halloween.

Schools pushed self esteem like it was a drug, and in no time at all there was an epidemic of self esteem overdoses!

This was common practice in all schools, even in my tiny rural community where (up until that time) kids were raised with the same set of values and guidelines generation after generation.

But when things began to change, any parent who dared to roll their eyes at these new age (and completely unnecessary) motivation building practices (let alone actually COMPLAIN) was perceived to be a neglectful and potentionally unfit parent! At the time, a lable such as that could get a parent into all kinds of trouble. REAL trouble.

Socially at the time, people were becomming more aware of child abuse in all forms and beginning to understand the long term affects that abuse could have on children who were put at risk.

No one in their right mind would argue against the attempt to empower children to speak up for themselves and overcome the threats of their abusers if a child was indeed being harmed in any way.

But the way schools & the social service system went about it was all wrong!

Their intentions were good, but the outcome was like nothing parents had ever had to deal with at any other time in history.

In order to get kids to come forward about abuse they had to be convinced that they were worthy of NOT being treated badly. “You’re special. You’re wonderful. You’re perfect just the way you are. You deserve happiness. You have the right to be heard. Your voice counts. Your feelings matter.”

All good stuff…..in principal. But then they threw in the follow up to that.

“Parents aren’t perfect. Parents make mistakes. If your parents do things that make you feel sad or mad and you want it to stop, you CAN do something about it. You can say ‘No’. And if that doesn’t stop them, then you can tell a teacher and they’ll make it stop.”

In trying to identify the children who actually NEEDED to hear this information for the reasons intended, an entire generation of kids who were NOT being abused were brainwashed into feeling “entitled” to MORE from thier parents.

Parents who did not comply with their child’s demands were faced with threats of being “turned in” to the authorities by the child! False accusations of abuse and neglect ran rampant.

Child Protective Services began showing up at front doors of good and loving parents everywhere! And because it was first and foremost the childs word over the parents, the process of vindicating an innocent parent could take months or years.

Fighting the social service system to clear ones name cost not only thousands of dollars in legal expenses, but it often cost people their jobs, their marriages, and most certainly their reputation within the community.

Considering the level of personal injury that could come from discipling ones child (or daring to say “No” to them) it became clear to everyone that not only was it merely EASIER to give in and play along, it was often the only safe option.

It was a horrible, horrible, horrible time to be a parent. One wrong move and your child had the power to destroy everything in your life. Only the bravest of the brave fought to take back authority over their kids. Those who fought the hardest were assumed to be the most guilty….and they served their jail time with pride for not backing down.



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