Tag Archives: Entitlement

Kids Lose When Parents Play Favorites

Favoritism exists throughout the animal kingdom.  Most species nurture the strongest of their offspring, which have the most promise of propagating their genetics into the future.  The wussy and wimpy ones, on the other hand, usually get eaten.  So when it comes to humans, it makes sense biologically that parents play favorites amongst their children.

Parents are drawn to kids who are more pleasant and affectionate, and less aggressive and deviant. For example, let’s say you have twin babies. One screams 24/7 and the other coos sweetly in your arms.  Well guess what? The screaming one is toast.

Parents also tend to feel closer to children of the same gender and personality type, and favor their biological kids over stepchildren.  In addition, parents usually have a soft spot for their first- and lastborn (at some point, the first- and lastborn have their parents all to themselves).  Generally speaking, it’s the firstborns who get all the perks due to the emotional and physical investment that goes into having the first baby.

Favoritism manifests itself in how much time, affection, privilege, or discipline you give one child compared to another.  The problem is that kids who are blatantly disfavored by their parents experience terrible outcomes across the board: more depression, greater aggressiveness, lower self-esteem, and poorer academic performance.  On the opposite side of the coin, children who are favored tend to develop a sense of arrogance and entitlement, which makes them terribly disliked by their siblings and totally unprepared for the real world.

So, how can a parent avoid showing favoritism?

1. When one kid is looking for a leg up, pick up everybody’s leg.

The irony is that every kid wants to feel like they’re different and special in their own way.  Your job is to do that without making them compete with each other.  When one of your kids asks, “Am I the best swimmer in the family?,” respond by saying, “I think you’re the best swimmer, and George is the best baseball player, and Mary is the best painter,” etc.  That way, each of your children has the mentality that he or she is the best, but so are their siblings.  There’s no favoritism shown because everybody’s the best at something.  Try to divvy out your love and affection equally, but continue highlighting each child’s uniqueness.

2. It’s not personal – it’s situational.

  • If you have a new baby at home, explain to your older child, “Your brother is a newborn. He can’t roll over or even scratch his butt – he can’t do anything.  So for a while, it’s going to look like we’re paying more attention to him, but you can scratch your butt and he can’t.”  Your older child will think this is hilarious, and they’ll get the picture (and wait for the day that their brother’s hand reaches behind his back…)
  • If one of your children is physically ill or disabled, inevitably there is going to be unequal treatment.  Make it clear to your other kids that you are not choosing the disabled child over them, but that their sibling’s condition simply requires more attention.  Reassure your other kids that it’s not personal – it’s just situational.

U.S. Youth: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

As graduation season kicks off and summer approaches, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about kids being too busy for summer jobs. 

A recent Time magazine article reports,

“It was once common to see teenagers mowing lawns, waiting tables, digging ditches and bagging groceries for modest wages in the long summer months.  Summer employment was a social equalizer, allowing both affluent and financially strapped teenagers to gain a foothold on adulthood, learning the virtues of hard work, respect and teamwork in a relatively low-stakes atmosphere.  But youth employment has declined precipitously over the years, and young people are losing a chance to develop these important life skills in the process.”

The article goes on to say “more than 50 percent of the nation’s young workforce has never held a basic, paying job.  We may be postponing their entry into adulthood.”

As the article makes clear, our kids are not prepared for the real world.  They lack the necessary skills to move up the professional ladder: perseverance, flexibility, humility, and commitment. 

One reason they don’t know about commitment is that “shack-ups” have increased.  Our kids haven’t learned about humility because we live in an environment where parents sue their school if their kid doesn’t get an “A,” or wasn’t chosen to be on the football or basketball team.  How can children learn humility when their failures are elevated to jurisprudence concepts?          

It’s basically the elders who are responsible for our kids’ incompetence.  It’s grownups who don’t make their kids learn values or appropriate expectations.  They don’t teach them how to take advantage of opportunities.  We do a lousy job of getting our kids ready for the real world because we’re teaching them their esteem is more important than their effort.

In addition, a survey conducted by the Corporate Voices for Working Families found that

“nearly three-quarters of survey participants (70 percent) cite deficiencies among incoming high school graduates in ‘applied’ skills, such as professionalism and work ethic, defined as ‘demonstrating personal accountability, effective work habits, e.g. punctuality, working productively with others, time and workload management.’  More than 40 percent of surveyed employers say incoming high school graduates hired are deficiently prepared for the entry-level jobs they fill. The report finds that recent high school graduates lack the basic skills in reading comprehension, writing and math, which many respondents say were needed for successful job performance.”

I guess if you’ve spent your time sexting and playing video games, you’re not going to be good in reading comprehension, writing, and math.            

The study also found that nearly three-quarters of incoming high school graduates are viewed as not being able to use reasonable grammar and spelling.  Their written communication is horrible, and they can’t write memos, letters, or complex technical reports. 

Critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to express oneself are no longer being taught in school.  Do you know why?  Because we have women’s studies, Black studies, Hispanic studies, purple studies, green studies, etc.  We have all kinds of studies for advocacy groups which have no place in our basic education system.  These studies should all be extracurricular subjects and should have no relevance to graduating with a degree. If you haven’t read the classics and you haven’t thought through profound concepts and essays, then you’re not educated.  All these studies simply involve being angry about something and putting your fist in the air.  This is why our ranking in science and math is below a lot of third world countries.  We should be number one. 

These are just some of the many things bothering employers these days, but it mainly comes down to this: they’re dealing with snot-nosed upstarts with a sense of entitlement.    

For more on this topic, here is a link to some skills most sought after by employers.