Monday, July 4, 2011

American Dreamers

What is the biggest problem facing kids (and their parents) today? That was the question asked of Success Magazine blog readers by relationship experts Richard and Linda Eyre .

Recently, they wrote about their results.

Of the multiple choice options, Peer Pressure, Excessive Technology and Gadgets, Bullying, Entitlement, Drugs and Substance Abuse, Sexual Experimentation, and Sibling Rivalry, A Sense of Entitlement left the other answers far behind, earning 53 percent of the responses compared to its nearest rival, Excessive Technology and Gadgets, at 16 percent.

When the Eyres, who have a book, The Entitlement Trap, due out in October, followed these results by asking if the sense of entitlement was a bigger problem for this generation of kids than with previous generations and who might be to blame, the answers were: “Yes,” it’s a bigger problem.  And no need to look around parents:  it’s our own fault.

Parents, “...give their kids too much, and they set a bad example.”

The responses were similar, the Eyres said, when they posed the questions to an audience in Southern California.

Could it be that the biggest threat to our children reaching their full potentials is one we’ve created ourselves? A crisis made and possibly solved within the family?

Interestingly, the family and its breakdown was one of the most popular answers to another survey, one administered not to parents but to California’s youth, and to a demographic presumably less affluent than the readership of Success Magazine.

This second survey was released by New American Media and the University of California Office of the President back in 2007. The poll reached 601 young people between the ages of 16-22 in one of the first polls to call people exclusively on their cell phones. The results are summarized in a report called: California Dreamers: A public opinion portrait of the most diverse generation the nation has known.

What did these respondents say was  The Most Pressing Issue Facing their Generation in the World Today?

Family Breakdown: 24%

Violence in Neighborhoods and Communities: 22%

Poverty: 17%

Global Warming: 14%

Anti-Immigration Sentiment: 7%

Others responses

Considering one in eight of our nation’s young people lives in California and according to the report,  nearly half of those are immigrants or the children of immigrants, the answers are significant especially as they relate to the attainment of something the report said the generation believes strongly in, “The American Dream”.

These young people, “harbor deep concerns about family stability, cite marriage and parenthood as life goals, and are as apt to define their identity by music and fashion taste as by the color of their skin.

Despite obstacles, they expect to create successful lives for themselves and imagine a more inclusive and tolerant society for one another. This collective optimism represents a unique source of social capital for California, and a mirror of what the U.S. is becoming as a global society. ”

The pressures weakening the family make-up that concern the young people surveyed by New American Media four years ago and whatever forces driving the parental struggle related to the epidemic of entitlement are different.

But they speak to a common idea: in our hope to attain or foster independence in the next generation, it’s the interdependence and functionality of our family life that is foremost on our minds.

1 comment:

Tim Morrissey said...

What a great post, Sarah. Entitlement concerns have long been high on the list of things my wife and I worried/worry about concerning our "kids", who are now well into their 20's. In our local school district, the theme was "Success For All". At my daughter's first high school softball team practice, one of the girls trying out didn't know the concept of balls and strikes. At her middle school, they were allowed to be at bat until they got a hit. No one ever "struck out," because that was a negative concept. We all want the very best for our children; to shield them from life's cruelties; to nurture and support them; but we also are obliged to help them understand that many good things in life are not just to be assumed - they must be earned through preparation and work.

Another great, thought-provoking post that reaches all parents at a visceral level and demands that we examine our own deeds and attitudes.