Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lesson Learned? Disappointment

I think back about 25 years, and I remember a couple of really spoiled brats that I knew. And they haven't lost their little place in my memory, mostly because they stood out, in a small minority of the kids I hung around with and went to school with. Their behavior was really noticeable because it wasn't very common. In other words, they were the exception, rather than the rule.

I didn't grow up in a utopia by any means. Kids have misbehaved, thrown tantrums, and carried on throughout history, I'm certain. But for the most part, the really bratty ones have always seemed to belong to a very elite club. Most parents wouldn't put up with it. It was that simple. It's not so simple anymore.

Every generation has had its identity, and thus a moniker all to itself; Baby Boomers, Flower Children, Generation X, etc. I'm starting to think, however, that The Me Generation isn't going to evolve and go so quietly.

A big problem, besides the inability and unwillingness of contemporary parents to refuse to indulge their kids, is that we've seen for certain that this indulgence has created a large population of folks who don't deal well with disappointment. It doesn't always become apparent until these people age and get more involved with society. At home, they rule the roost, but once out in the world, there is a big surprise coming in the form of people who aren't so willing to give in to the demands and expectations of the spoiled lot. And since they aren't very well prepared to deal with disappointment in a civilized manner, we see a whole lot of acting out. They react with the gut instinct, which is to lash out, throw tantrums, or in some cases, inflict violence.

Think of these folks who've been videotaped acting inappropriately at children's sporting events. Think of the father who interrupted a wrestling match involving his son, or the man who ran out and tackled a small boy during a football game. Or the more extreme example, a few years back, when one father beat another to death over a kids' hockey game.

Where does that behavior come from? What could possibly motivate an adult to attack a child in an amateur sports environment?

It's a problem of a. developing unrealistic expectations and b. not being prepared to accept that those expectations will most likely not be met.

Of course, we can't forget self-control, but I think in many ways, self-control is a learned behavior as well, so who knows.

Something is lacking.


  1. So wise. We need more parents like you. What has happened to our society? I even think things are way worse than when I was a teenager 15 years ago. I say this a lot.....we are raising a lazy generation. I don't understand parents who don't 'parent'; they shouldn't be allowed to have kids.

    jimmy, you should go on some sort of tour and give motivational speeches to crap parents; they need a wake up call.

  2. Anonymous4:42 PM

    And I'd like to add to your entry that with all that, we also have the need for immediate gratification. Immediacy of everything. Throw that into the equation? It's a real mess, huh?


  3. I think recent trends in primary (elementary) education have also contributed to this inability to deal with disappointment or failure. A lot of schools now avoid telling children that they have 'failed' something. Some school even avoid grading so that students are not compared with each other. That way no student can suffer by comparison. I know that the concept behind it is to reverse the harms of over-competitive educational environments, but I think that it goes to far. There's nothing wrong with a child knowing they have failed, as long as they are taught that failing is not the end of the world, and are encouraged to try again. Failing is part of life, and never letting a child know that they fell short is a terrible preparation for life.


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