Generation “E” For “Entitled”, Part I
©2007 Debra Rae
all heard of Generation “X.” Now there’s “Generation E,” usually in
reference to a new breed of Europhiles. Decidedly secular and characteristically
pessimistic, these are vigorous members of the European youth culture (ages
Euro-youth, marriage is superfluous; sexual orientation irrelevant. These
self-proclaimed “global citizens of the future” love to hate Americans as
being selfish, insular, and materialistic.
is they are not completely off track. There’s yet another Generation “E,”
one manifestly prone to such unflattering defining characteristics. This
Generation “E” is driven by a spirit of entitlement.
printed in the Washington Times (26
April 1999), “Children of the Therapeutic Society” by B.K. Eakman exposed
how social scientists, at first, wrongly suggested that direct involvement of
parents with their children was synonymous with over-protectiveness. Eventually,
hands-on parenting was likened to “child abuse.” In time, to tolerate a teen
tantrum (or that of a two-year-old) became viewed as “being flexible.”
of Generation “E” (for entitled) are very, very “flexible.” It is of
paramount importance to them that their kids like them, no matter the cost. What
once was called “talking back” is now “having a voice.” Even tag artists
who deface public and private property are deemed “creative” for their
“thinking outside of the box.”
too often our youth are nurtured on what Gene Edward Veith calls “mind-candy
of pop culture.” Void of deep-seated convictions to stir passion, they are
prone to be cynical, nihilistic, and sometimes criminal.
growing selfishness is likened to “knowing what you want and setting out to
get it.” The “hormonal teen culture” justifies being insular, and lust for
materialism smacks of what is perceived as healthy ambition.
a word, privilege today is more an expectation than a rarity.
the story goes, a wealthy farmer sent his sons to the fields, where they worked
long hours in the heat of the sun. Neighbors were appalled. After all, they
reasoned, he had more than enough money to hire out such work. In disgust, one
neighbor stormed the father’s estate, accusing him of unthinkable stinginess.
the good farmer responded, “I’m not raising wheat; I’m raising sons.” More
than saving a penny, that father wanted his sons to learn well the simple
lessons of life—lessons he credited for his own success as a farmer,
businessman, and most importantly as a father.
doubt those lessons mirrored life rules expounded by author Charles Sykes—the
first of which follows: Life is not fair; get used to it. On occasion, but not
always, the ball of blessing lands undeservedly in your court. Because of the
likelihood that unmerited fortune will, from time to time, advantage you,
let that suffice.
do well to keep in mind that the world won’t care about self-actualization or
self-esteem, but instead will expect accomplishment as prerequisite to
commendation or financial reward. No amount of ego will land you a vice
presidency right out of high school. You must first earn that title; and, in the
process, you’ll need to “find yourself” on your own time.
as it sounds, before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are
now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your messes, and listening
to your revelries in self-aggrandizement. If you think your teacher is tough,
wait until you get a boss who has no apparent interest in polishing your ego or
feathering your nest.
schools may have done away with “winners” and “losers,” but their
self-esteem enhancing paradigm doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to real
life. Believe it. When you flub up, it’s not the fault of parents, teachers,
isn’t divided into semesters, with breaks following; and, by the way,
television does not mirror real life. Some youth may be reluctant to accept that
flipping burgers is not beneath their dignity; in fact, it’s called
be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one!
recently published Seattle Times
article lauds a local child-centered school characterized by “freedom” and
“democracy” (1 April 2007). Just as children ambulate and speak with seeming
spontaneity (no “formal” instruction needed), it stands to reason that they
will learn to read, write, and compute similarly unencumbered by pesky teachers,
assignments, tests, grades.
students study only what they want to; these “find their bliss” by playing
cards and shoot-‘em-up cyberspace games. Should they have questions, students
are owed answers by attending adults. Unless asked, however,
“facilitators” remain seen, but not heard. For this, parents dish out yearly
tuitions nearing $6,000.
then, “new” basics of consensus building and interdependence are not new at all. Founded in 1921 by A. S. Neill, Summerhill was presumed
to be a haven for children to discover who they are and where their interests
lie. Anticipated outcomes were “nurtured” in a self-governing, democratic
community much akin to the model classroom at the University of Iowa laboratory
school for which I student-taught in the late 1960s.
as rules were concerned, pupils and staff alike had equal vote; and, yes,
lessons were optional. Young and inexperienced as I was, it didn’t take long
to realize that this was no way to run a school—unless, that is, you don’t
mind ducking water balloons or dodging skate boarders hording the hallways.
I’m not calling for “the good old days” of the late 1800s when teachers
were required to fill lamps, clean chimneys, tote daily supplies of water and
coal, and whittle pens for their students—in addition, of course, to
dispensing knowledge and honing basic skills. Even so, for most, education
imparted in one-room schoolhouses was highly esteemed; and educators commanded
due respect. Despite grueling requirements, teachers enjoyed the supreme
satisfaction of equipping their students with academic skills and a firm sense
of personal accountability and character.
more. What B.K. Eakman terms “psychological calisthenics”—this, in lieu of
yesteryear’s far more challenging textbooks, rigorous assignments, and
stricter teachers—paves the way for students to become inebriated with an
exaggerated pre-occupation with self.
the fact that American high-school students are falling behind even the Third
World when it comes to math and science, our kids still rank near the top when
tested on matters of self-esteem.
is terribly wrong with this picture.
than ever before, feeling good about oneself trumps all. In psychology,
narcissism is an exaggeration of normal self-respect and involvement, yet
networks and magazine ads scream the message that kids are entitled. Life owes
them, don’t you know?
best car, the latest technology, the designer label, the spring vacation,
endless junk food—all are expected, even demanded. After all, advertisements
proclaim that I’m “worth it.” “I deserve a break today”; it’s “my thing” to “do what I
wanna’ do.” The so-called “Imperial Self” is “born to rule.” While
theirs is “the spirit—with attitude,” kids today “regret nothing.”
armed with commercial jingles and slogans, Generation “E” (for
“entitled”) strive to turn the tide of favor their way by opportunistically
flashing the “victimology” card. Unfortunately, in the real world, parents
and teachers do youngsters no favor by appeasing the oft-cited whine, “That’s
Mann believed in the perfectible nature of man and, in 1850, sold many Americans
on the misguided idea that in one hundred years secular education would solve
crime and poverty. To the contrary, a “mental hygiene” approach to
education, coupled with permissive parenting, has erupted instead in grotesque
violence (can you say “
Pierson Yecke characterized the rising tide of mediocrity in
the focus on academics shifted dramatically in the 1960s to emotional health
issues begs the question, “How is this working for you?” Apparently it’s
not working well. Whistle blower Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt uncovered the mother
lode, armed herself with it, and then fled the US Department of Education for
which she had served as senior official.
recent “Cosmo Girl” survey reveals that nearly one in three would pocket a
$5 bill if she saw a stranger drop it on the floor. Indeed,
former secretary of education William Bennett rightly reasons that
“value-neutral,” standard-light schools more often than not fashion morally
indifferent students. Society, he concludes, is no better for it.
long ago, I overheard a middle-aged woman reminiscing about her lifelong journey
as a Christian. Never having had a husband, or children, this seemingly
unfulfilled woman blurted out, “God owes me BIG TIME.”
got to admit, this unexpected outburst took me aback. Yes, my friend had devoted
her life to Christian service; but, then, a “living sacrifice” is what the
Bible describes as “reasonable service.” Somehow this good woman felt
conversation reminded me of an earlier experience when I employed a worker to
undertake a construction project in the backyard. In the business sector, effort
minus output seldom reaps reward, certainly not monetarily; however, despite
this job’s remaining incomplete, my
workman demanded five times the amount of his previously agreed-upon bid. His
rationale, as I heard it, was that God’s intent was to bless him at my
expense. No matter the mess left behind, he nonetheless felt “owed.”
scenarios underscore the principle that life isn’t fair; but then it is the
Lord’s prerogative whether to give or take away. Wisdom dictates that there is
no inherent virtue in material gain or loss. Neither ensures salvation,
sanctification or discipleship; either can ambush and ensnare; both, when
embraced, contribute to character maturation and “abundant living” in
feel “owed” is a far cry from acknowledging and, then, appropriating more
than thirty thousand biblical promises ripe for the picking. We who died to sin
and self upon accepting Christ as Lord dare not indulge a covetous spirit of
entitlement. God is in debt to no one, but we are forever in debt to Him. In
fact, the Bible calls us His willing “love-slaves.”
was the case with the apostle Paul, most Christians experience abounding and
abasing, being full and being hungry; but God’s love and valuation of them
never vacillates. No matter the quality of life enjoyed or tolerated, as the
case may be, believers can trust that God remains their faithful provider.
Debra Rae is an author and educator who has traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad. Having authored two books—the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural-Isms (the latter highlighted at the 55th Annual CBA International Convention, 2004)—Debra contributing columnist for News With Views. Debra has been a speaker on numerous radio shows aired across the nation, the Western Hemisphere, Russia, and the Middle East. This past year, she co-launched and now co-hosts WOMANTalk, a special edition of Changing Worldviews TALK Radio, for which she writes weekly commentaries. www.debraraebooks.com, www.womantalk.us, www.newswithviews.com/Rae/Debra.htm