Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spoiled American Kids

A fascinating read in the New Yorker about "adultesence," or that contemporary American kids are some of the most spoiled kids in human history:

With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world. It’s not just that they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff—clothes, toys, cameras, skis, computers, televisions, cell phones, PlayStations, iPods. (The market for Burberry Baby and other forms of kiddie “couture” has reportedly been growing by ten per cent a year.) They’ve also been granted unprecedented authority. “Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval,” Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, both professors of psychology, have written. In many middle-class families, children have one, two, sometimes three adults at their beck and call. This is a social experiment on a grand scale, and a growing number of adults fear that it isn’t working out so well: according to one poll, commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents think that their children are spoiled.

The article has a variety of views on parenting, youth culture, anthropology, and psychology. Much of it comes back to parents worrying that they'll damage their children by giving boundaries or consequences, or that their child is deeply special or unique and in need of their care. 

What do you think? How is this connected with the cultural phenomenon of extended adolescence?

(ht to kottke)

1 comment:

  1. I think the old saying, "I want my kids to be better off/ have more than I did when I was a kid" has been taken to the extreme. We are no longer parenting, but instead spending more time at work to make more money to give our kids what we think they need. Instead of providing the necessities and letting THEM work for what they WANT, we(as a culture) feel the need to make sure that they have everything, in turn making us "look" like good parents. However, then the roles become reversed and entitles kids become entitled adults.