You're Taking Out an Entire Generation
We have heard for years “mother knows best.” Unfortunately, I’m not sure that still rings true. The rising generation of children have been called the laziest, rudest and most entitled kids in history. How did they get this way? Let’s ask Mom.
Oh dear, we can’t ask Mom because she’s too busy hovering over her kids to actually have a conversation with an adult. Touché. Instead of committing literary assault on so-called helicopter mothers, let’s take a look at the causes behind the laziness, rudeness and entitlement and how this epidemic may play out in the future.
The Cause: I believe kids have always been lazy. I was. On any given Saturday morning, I would much rather watch cartoons than clean my room. I never wanted to help with yard work. Cleaning the kitchen was a chore and emptying the dishwasher—downright dreadful. I regularly tried to get out of it to no avail, and yes, I was often called lazy.
The difference between the kids of today and me is one thing: Mom. My mother demanded I did what she said, when she said. If she had to say it twice, I suffered consequences. If I didn’t get something done within her time frame, she gave me a time allotment; if I wasn’t finished within it, I suffered consequences. If I hadn’t cleaned my room, raked the yard, cut the grass, accomplished the chore du jour to her standards, I heard about it. She never said anything that sounded remotely like this, “Well, you tried and that’s what really matters. You’ll do better next time.” Never.
Mom didn’t hesitate to point out my shortcomings, which were usually caused from bouts of laziness and not actual disability. She would make me remake my bed if it was crooked, wrinkled or sloppy. In fact, I had to redo anything I slacked on. She didn’t take it on as her responsibility to fix my haphazard efforts. She made me do it and do it right.
In putting that in writing she sounds like one mean mother. She wasn’t. Things needed to get done and she saw certain tasks as the children’s responsibility. She was raised on a dairy farm where she was required from a young age to do more chores in one morning than most kids today do in their entire childhood. I can hear today’s young adults now if faced with that type of chore schedule, “No fair.” “They’re not my cows.” “I don’t even like milk” “I have too much homework.” “How much will I get paid?” That’s actually if you get a response. Usually, kids pretend to not hear you, and then, when you lose your patience with them, they wonder why you can't just chill.
If I ever told my mom to chill, my bet is she would quickly grab the flyswatter (or whatever was close by), come at me faster than ice cold water pouring out of an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge bucket, and with a somewhat stoic, yet demonic, look in her eyes, say in a low growl, “I’ll show you chill.” I do not have any desire for my mother to show me chill—not even at age forty-something.
I’m not sure why mother’s started getting tuned out by their children. I hear moms in stores, at the pool, at sporting events droning on and on, some yelling, telling their kids what to do and then allowing them to do whatever, regardless of what they just said. Oh, now I get it…that’s why moms (dads, too) are getting tuned out: No credibility. All bark. The kids know they can wear their parents down with very little effort.
It appears the kids are winning this war. Not so fast, they actually aren’t. It’s hard to be a winner when the prizes are laziness, rudeness and entitlement.
I’m not going to go into rudeness and entitlement. We all know how they got there. At some point in time, parents decided to put their children at the center of the universe, do everything for them, buy everything for them, fight their battles for them, overbook their schedules for them, tell them they did great when they didn’t and demand their child gets a trophy with no merit. In this scenario, how can anyone not be rude and entitled—even narcissistic?
The latest study by Chris Segrin, who heads the University of Arizona communication department, and his colleagues shows that over-parenting young adults breeds narcissism and poor coping skills. And, having ineffective coping skills amplifies anxiety, stress and depression. According to Segrin, this ought to be a frightening message for a parent to hear because the world is a very scary place when you don't have the skills to deal with the problems the world presents.
Most importantly is to point out what all of this over-parenting is doing to an entire American generation. It is stealing children’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. How can you accomplish anything when your mom (or dad) does everything for you? My son had a friend over for dinner one night. They were around 12-years-old. After dinner I made them clean the kitchen. The friend had never cleaned a kitchen, put dishes in a dishwasher, wiped a counter…nothing. So, I gave him a quick lesson and left he and Conner to accomplish the task. He was actually happy. He liked it. He was proud. He wanted me to see how he loaded the dishwasher. What he probably liked the most is that he did something that added purpose to his life. He was able to contribute. This is so very important, even if it starts with only cleaning a kitchen.
Helicopter parents: You are stealing your child’s sense of purpose, life skills and, ultimately, their long-term happiness. Yes, you mean well, but it’s too much—way too much. Kids need to figure things out for themselves. Your job is not to raise a child who never falls, fails or flails. Your job is to raise children who can fall, fail or flail and have the tenacity, ambition and confidence to keep going.
There was a time when mothers actually had enough of the kids; told them they were “underfoot” and made them go outside and play. However, in 2014, the tables have turned. I believe kids would tell their mothers they are “underfoot” if they knew what it meant.
Give your children a chance to show you what they’ve got. It won’t make you less important to them. In fact, they will aim to please you even more. It truly is the best path to happily ever after, not only for your child, but also for an entire generation.