I hear many adults who are much older than I am complain about my generation. They say that young people, those about to enter the work force for the first time, are the most spoiled and entitled generation in this country's history. I happen to agree. Where I happen to differ from those complaining is that I think that they are the ones to blame.
My generation, which was created in the 1990s, is the product of a child self-esteem movement that started in the 1980s. This movement was designed to boost the self-image of children while they were growing up. Now this isn't an entirely bad thing. Kids do need to know that there are things that they are good at and a high self-esteem is healthy for a child to have. The problem is that it went too far. The movement had reached a point to where every child had to feel that they were good at everything and that they were both infallible and would never fail at anything ever. The result is a generation which feels that they deserve everything for doing almost nothing.
There are examples of this unnecessary lift up of children everywhere. My personal favorite is little league. Now as much as I love baseball, I really sucked. I could barely hit and when a fly ball would come to me, it would hit my glove and immediately fall to the grass. Needless to say that I only played the minimum two innings and one at bat required by little league rules. The very fact that I played that much is evidence that the adults feared if I was not put in every game I would be emotionally destroyed. It is true that when in the beginning stages of baseball, everybody should play. That is because nobody at that level is good enough to the point that you would have a set team of players who would play and those who wouldn't. The problem is that this standard does not change as the players get older. As a 13-year-old, I would still have to be put in by my coach because of little league regulations. At that level, a coach should have the power to put in whoever he wants for however much he wants. Not only is that because it affects his chances to win, but it also affects other kids chances to get better.
If you suck but still get to play, then why would you ever work hard to get better? If I suck I should work hard to earn my spot on the field, not have it given to me because the rules say so. That has the same negative affect as giving every kid a trophy at the end of the season. The only kids who should be given trophies are the ones who are in the league championship, or have the best record, or do whatever make them the best in their league. If you get a trophy just for showing up, you will never work hard to get better and you will grow up knowing that you will get rewarded no matter how much work you put in or how much success you have.
And I am not just picking on baseball, there are many to blame for my generations entitlement, namely parents. Parents are the ones who build their kids up so much that they are not able to accept failure and to accommodate to that, they have to create a world that will ensure their kid will never fail. This creates a life for a kid where they are always right and expect to be given everything they want. It creates kids who always feel like they should be rewarded.
There is a reason awards exist. Yes, it is good to reward someone for their hard work and success, but the main reason you give awards out is to show everyone else that they fell short, and in turn they will work hard to get it next time. My school calls an assembly to give out honor roll awards so that everyone who didn't get one has to watch and feel bad. That creates initiative and will make kids work hard next semester to bring those grades up.
If everyone in little league gets a trophy and gets playing time, no matter how bad they are, they will grow up knowing that no matter how bad their work is, or no matter how little effort they put in or how smart they are, they deserve everything. So yes older generation, young people have an entitlement issue, and it is your fault. You created a world in which we didn't have to work and we would get everything. You sacrificed learning and working hard for self-esteem and making sure your kids feelings weren't hurt, so now it is time to deal with it.