According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans will have spent an average of $220,000 raising a child born in the year 2000 to their 18th birthday — and that could make them the most spoiled and pampered generation of teenagers in history. The ominous implication appears to be borne out by the popularity of selfies, which in many ways are the ultimate expression of self-indulgence.
A quick search on the web yields thousands of sites dedicated to parenting and thousands of mommy bloggers who document, in torrents of pictures and words, every second of every minute of their children’s lives. Advice on how to raise the Most Loving and Perfect Child in the World are plentiful; parents are encouraged to nurture and support their children in everything they do, and to never utter a word of disapproval, but to give a constructive twist to all potentially negative comments or criticism.
With American parents’ obsession to provide their children with the most stress-free growing experience possible, educators are coming under increasing pressure to soften their grading systems. Recently, the faculty at a high school in Virginia was repeatedly bullied and berated by parents because teachers were giving poor grades to their children. “C is the new F,” said a teacher.
Competitive sports in schools throughout the country are increasingly coming under fire by parents who vehemently object to coaches who come down too hard on their children or set difficult standards for making a team. Parents insist that every child should be given an equal opportunity to play, regardless of their level of skill. An increasingly common scenario is one of parents demanding that school teams not win games by too many points, but demonstrate good sportsmanship by ensuring that players stop scoring additional points to avoid hurting their opponents’ feelings. As an example, several months ago, a parent filed a complaint of bullying against a rival coaching staff whose team defeated their child’s school by a score of 91-0.
Note to Self
Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie set a retweet record, signaling that the practice of taking pictures of oneself and posting them online has finally gone primetime. But hints of the coming storm of a self-indulgent culture were already present in the explosion of Youtube videos, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat feeds of people chronicling the most mundane minutia of their daily lives, from the bagel they ate for breakfast to playing video games. Television and cable channels are dominated by “reality” TV, in which people, both celebrities and ordinary people, are followed 24/7 as they live out their private lives.
So, get ready for a generation raised to believe that they are the center of the universe, who believe that everything they do is of immense interest to the rest of the world. They grew up with parents telling them every day that they were the most precious and valuable thing in life. Don’t try to convince them they’re not. All of their friends agree with them.
Follow Mario Almonte on Twitter: www.twitter.com/almonte