People have given me a lot of lip over the last couple of years because I have given them a lot of lip. In one area in particular, I have taken a strong and harsh position that many people haven't liked - towards over-indulgent parents. I have frequently decried the "generation of narcissists" that said parents are creating, and warned that these seemingly innocuous kids who are used to being the center of the universe are going to do some harm someday. I'm not the only one aware of the real and potential damage. Frank Rich, in this morning's Times, wrote about the enormous damage George W. Bush has wreaked on our country by virtue of his narcissism.

Frank Rich:

"The man who emerges is a narcissist with no self-awareness whatsoever. It’s that arrogance that allowed him to tune out even the most calamitous of realities, freeing him to compound them without missing a step."

Here's a posting from my blog that I put up last May. It that followed a "SIXTY MINUTES" show on the effects of "over-parenting."

Was anybody home last night to watch the "60 Minutes" story" on the new generation of "kids" that have recently arrived to "adulthood?" Man, I've been writing and ranting about this age group and the one coming after them for years now, and getting no small amount of flack for it. I've been begging parents to consider the consequences for the narcissists they're creating, and for the world at large, and admonishing those same parents for their own ego-driven, vicarious motivations that are gutting our kids.

Well, it's hitting the mainstream media now. Here's Morley Safer from last night's show:

"There are about 80 million of them, born between 1980 and 1995, and they're rapidly taking over from the Baby Boomers who are now pushing 60. They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds, and you can take your job and shove it. They are a generation that only takes 'yes' for an answer. And their priorities are simple: they come first."

Now, many who know me or read this blog have heard me talk about the "Joy of Quitting," or the "End of the Job," and "Full Permission Working." I am a staunch advocate of not wasting your life doing things that you don't find fulfilling. And I certainly see the 9-to-5 (now 8-to-8) corporate cog work-life as demeaning and spirit-crushing. But by no means do I advocate remaining a child. I absolutely know that fulfillment in life includes the capacity to be creative and productive in the world, and attaining what Erik Erikson called "generativity," the desire to give back.

Marian Salzman was on the show. She's an ad agency executive who has been managing and tracking "Millennials" since they entered the workforce. "You do have to speak to them a little bit like a therapist on television might speak to a patient," Salzman says, laughing. "You can't be harsh. You cannot tell them you're disappointed in them. These young people will tell you what time their yoga class is and that the day's work will be organized around the fact that they have that commitment. How wonderful it is to be young and have your priorities so clear. Flipside of it is how awful it is to be managing the extension, sort of, of the teenage babysitting pool," Salzman tells Safer.

Her words, folks, not mine -an "extension" of "the teenage babysitting pool." Exactly. One of the questions I've often put to parents is "Who's going to continue coddling your kids when they reach adulthood? Who's going to hire them? And who in their right mind would ever want to marry someone who needs an eternal source of narcissistic supply from their partner?"

Mary Crane offers crash courses for Millennials, trying to prepare them for actual work. She said this on 60 Minutes: "You now have a generation coming into the workplace that has grown up with the expectation that they will automatically win, and they'll always be rewarded, even for just showing up," Crane says.

In psychological terms, by the way, that's called "Primary Narcissism."

Morley was onto it.

"So who's to blame for the narcissistic praise hounds now taking over the office?" Safer asks.

Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow blames...Mr. Rogers! "You have got a guy like Fred Rogers on TV. He was telling his preschoolers, 'You're special. You're special.' And he meant well. But we, as parents, ran with it. And we said, 'You, Junior, are special, and you're special and you're special and you're special.' And for doing what? We didn't really explain that," Zaslow says.

Furthermore, he says that the coddling virus continues to eat away even when junior goes off to college.

"I heard from several professors who said, a student will come up after class and say, 'I don't like my grade, and my mom wants to talk to you, here's the phone," Zaslow says. "And the students think it's like a service. 'I deserve an A because I'm paying for it. What are you giving me a C for?"

Now, here's where the pathology really starts to manifest from this upbringing without autonomy:

"Today," Morley Safer says, "more than half of college seniors move home after graduation. It's a safety net, or safety diaper, that allows many kids to quickly opt out of a job they don't like."

Does that give anyone a chill: "SAFETY DIAPER?!"

"There once was, if not shame, a little certain uneasiness about being seen to be living at home in your mid 20s, yes?" Safer asks Mary Crane.

"Not only is there no shame with it, but this is thought to be a very smart, wise, economic decision," Crane says.

Finally, here's where it gets really sad. This is a young man in his twenties, talking about his upbringing, interviewed on the show:

"Our parents really took from us that opportunity to fall down on our face and learn how to stand up," says Jason Dorsey.

You can find the whole transcript of the SIXTY MINUTES show here:

To find more of my writings on the subject of narcissism, go here:

1 comment:

lneely said...

"Everybody's a winner!" What brilliant marketing!

I'm glad to see that past generations are realizing this plight as well. That's not meant as an insult, but I see from your photo that you're an older gentleman.

Millenials are an enigmatic group. Quick learners, technologically savvy, multi-talented, and many are accustomed to being rewarded for nothing in the holy name of the "self esteem" cult. In competitive sports for children, trophies are handed out to everybody. In public schools, even in universities to a certain degree, it's all but impossible to fail a course. The indoctrination that self-esteem is more important than excellence has become a monster, and it's not only parents who are to blame.

What makes me most curious is, will it be the workplace that must adapt to take advantage of the skills of Millenials, or will it be the Millenials who must adjust to the workplace? IMHO, a little compromise on both sides never hurt anybody -- a more laid back professional setting (within reason) tends to improve morale and productivity for everyone, and ensuring that most of the company's workers are content is generally good -- but I think we'll eventually realize as a generation that the self-esteem cult is garbage, and opt for a more moderate and rational world view.


blogger templates 3 columns | Make Money Online