The new entitlement generation? Our nation in peril

As I write this article I, along with many, are in celebration of Americas greatest feat of the 20th Century. For on this day, July 20th of 1969, two of our greatest heroes Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the Moon. It took over 10 years of preparation for this feat, and involved millions of united Americans to accomplish it…working together in unison as a nation. They were the “Greatest Generation” and the Sons and Daughters of that Greatest Generation…they were totally engrossed in the work ethic that made this country great.

We are all in a state of disbelief, shock, and grief for our nation at this time as relative to the murderous acts directed toward our peace officers…the very police officers who protect those that wish them harm.

It is truly an enigma, and a tragedy. We ask many questions, such as: Why would individuals want to slay the very people that are sworn to protect our citizens from harm? Why aren’t these acts being prevented from happening in the first place? Who are to blame for these merciless acts of violence? Many questions arise, much rhetoric, and yet the seemingly senseless terroristic acts continue. One may think that after the tragedies of the intentional and vicious attacks on our law enforcement officers and other citizenry that we would learn something…most importantly, how do we prevent such attacks from occurring in the first place?

I contend, as many in my profession of sociology and psychology, that the primary problems in our nation is that many groups of individuals are in a state of cognizant dissonance; they think that they are truly entitled to have everything that they believe other people have without working for it, and they act on their emotions to fulfill that need….and have become most narcissistic in their thinking. And, nowhere is this more prevalent than among the “Generation Y” individuals. Let me explain.

Our country was founded on the principles of labor and sacrifice; and millions have given their lives in the protection of these principles. For individuals who made it through the Great Depression and World War II eras, what we have come to name “The Greatest Generation,” our citizenry pulled together with a common belief of hard work, Law abiding, without hand-outs, and would pull through. Their stories are a monumental part of our history; the factory workers, those in the Armed Forces, etc.; all working for a common goal of preserving our nation and preparing for the future. They were totally engrossed in the “Work Ethic” that made this country great.

During the post WWII era, from 1946 to 1960, were born the “Baby Boomer” Generation. These individuals continued the same ethical beliefs as their parents, learning about the sacrifice their parents made through the strong work ethic. Children learned that in order to get anything, they had to work for it.

From 1965 to 1980 the “Generation X” came along. This generation was under the guidance of a new wave of education and parenting….the belief that everyone was special, that everyone was entitled to what everyone else had…the age of socialism and rebellion took place in our country…racial riots, the “drug revolution,” etc., and the disrespect for the work ethic and values that made our country strong. No longer would the work ethic be guiding the individual, they came to believe that others “owed them” just because they existed. This began to take affect across our nation; among differing ethnic groups, economical groups, etc. People started to become most narcissistic, and this narcissism was promoted by our government, our educational systems, and by many parents who gave in to the desires of it all. Now all of the children were given trophies at events just for participation, passed to a new school grade although their school work was well below average, they no longer had to work for their parental allowance but were given it, etc. And the principles of cognizant dissonance and societal narcissism took effect. Generation X was the onset of the entitlement generation, and it truly, truly took effect.

Those individuals in the present generation, those born after 1980, have been titled the “Y Generation.” These individuals, being raised in the permissive environment of our society, are truly our Socialized generation. The Aspen Educational Group says it all, in their Treatise entitled: “Narcissistic and Entitled in Everything! Does Gen Y Have Too Much Self-Esteem?” “In the 1980’s world of child rearing the catchword was “self esteem.” Unconditional love and being valued “just because you’re you!” was the prevailing philosophy in practice, it involved constantly praising children, not criticizing them under any circumstances, emphasizing feelings, and not recognizing one child’s achievements as superior to another’s. At the end of season, every player “won” a trophy. Instead of just one “student of the month,” schools named dozens. Teachers inflated grades from Kindergarten through college: “C” became the new “F.” No one ever had to repeat a grade because staying behind caused poor self-esteem. Dr. Jean Twenge, author of the book “Generation Me…”, states that “the result of these child-rearing practices has been a measurable increase in narcissism and a generation that has a deeply embedded sense of entitlement. The new trend toward self-centeredness and self-love might be bad for society, due to narcissists lacking empathy, overreaction to criticism, and favoring themselves over others. They are incapable of cheering anyone else’s success. Ultimately, they lead miserable lives because they cannot form and maintain healthy relationships.”

Gen Y children and young adults need constant praise, and are often afforded it in constant e-mails, texts, celebration balloons, awards, and other tangible ways in constant positive reinforcement. They are prone to not taking responsibility for their mistakes, and when things do not go their way are also prone to tantrums, pouting, and even violently acting out against parents and other authorities. I have very often encountered problems that our youth face today in therapy sessions; the major hurdle being their sense of entitlement. The counseling considerations I, as do others in the counseling arena, provide is general guidelines to parents and other authority positions to use: If an allowance is earned through chore completion, there should be a limit; when it is gone, it is gone; that work is what brings financial rewards. Teach children to apologize to others, to understand their point of view, and otherwise demonstrate “emotional intelligence.” Let the child face the natural consequences of his/her behavior. If he/she bangs up the car, let him/her pay for it. And, above all, watch how you use praise. Give praise for a specific piece of work or action, not general praise arising from emotions of the parent or authority figure (which may be just a matter of feeding the adult/authority figures ego).

I contend, along with most of my colleagues, that this present liberal trend within our society today is the reason that we have so much violence and rebellious acts toward authority in our nation. Now, I am not one to spread “doom and gloom,” and have faith and hope that our citizenry will return to the values that made America the Great Nation…that the core values and attitudes that formed this nation will be restored. Until next time, Stay Healthy and Safe my Friends!