Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is a nation of "Little Princesses" a good thing?

A reader (thanks!) sends in this story on the over-inflated self-esteem of today's teens:

Today's American high school students are far likelier than those in the 1970s to believe they'll make outstanding spouses, parents and workers, new research shows.

They're also much more likely to claim they are "A" students with high IQs -- even though other research shows that today's students do less homework than their counterparts did in the 1970s.

The findings, published in the November issue of Psychological Science, support the idea that the "self-esteem" movement popular among today's parents and teachers may have gone too far, the study's co-author said.....

For example, in 1975, less than 37 percent of teens thought they'd be "very good" spouses, compared to more than 56 percent of those surveyed in 2006. Likewise, the number of students who thought they'd become "very good" parents rose from less than 36 percent in 1975 to more than 54 percent in 2006. And almost two-thirds of teens in 2006 thought they'd be exemplary workers, compared to about half of those polled in 1975.

As for self-reported academic achievement, twice as many students in 2006 than in 1976 said they earned an "A" average in high school -- 15.6 percent vs. 7.7 percent, the report found.

Compared to their counterparts from the '70s, today's youth also tended to rate themselves as more intelligent and were more likely to say they were "completely satisfied" with themselves.

There was one exception -- measures of "self-competency" (i.e., agreeing with statements such as, "I am able to do things as well as most other people") did not rise between 1976 and 2006. According to Twenge, that may mean that young people continue to feel great self-worth even as they remain unsure of their competence in specific tasks.....

The article points out that some researchers think kids are smarter and doing better than their counterparts.

But Twenge, who is the author of a book on young people's self-views called Generation Me, isn't convinced. In fact, she believes that today's parents may be sending another crop of young Americans down the same path.

"I have a 2-year-old daughter," she said. "I see the parenting of kids around her age, and I haven't seen this changing. Look around -- about a fourth of the clothing available to her says 'Little Princess' on it."

I wonder where all of this inflated self-esteem without competency will lead us?


Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Oh, the princesses have been around a lot longer than today's teens.

I'm old enough now to see it in my younger bosses at work: You don't get to discuss a problem, you get to be screeched at and told not to interrupt. If you push back politely, the screeching gets even worse. It's not even like they're actually concerned with the facts, just with being esteemed regardless of their abilities or accomplishments or understanding of how things work in the real world.

Oh wait...

5:32 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Lone Chatelaine said...

In the corporate office place this is being demonstrated through entry level new hire employees, right out of college, that don't understand why they have to follow a team lead ,instead of only working on the projects they choose to and in whatever capacity they choose to.

I'm in the HR deparment of a telecom company, and I get countless complaints from interns wondering why they have to do as they're directed instead of picking and choosing what they want to work on for the day. They also want a corporate credit card to "schmooz" with. Schmooz is their word, not mine. And they also don't understand why they can't be the team lead with their sparkling college degree, instead of the person with ten years experience.

I call them the participant trophy generation. In lieu of running the risk of hurting any feelings, everyone gets a trophy and gets to be the champion. They never had to actually compete and win. I really think it's part of the PC movement to not single anyone out for being more deserving than someone else. The very fact that we now use the term "team lead" instead of manager or boss is a perfect example of this too. "Manager" or "boss" have been done away with in many corporate environments, because they imply class structure or might be intimidating.

And no, it's not all of our entry level recruits, and I don't want to condemn a whole generation, but I'd say it's close to 50% of the new hires I encounter.

5:40 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Heather said...

As a mom of a 3 year old, ughhh. It's a full time job keeping the princess stuff away from my daughter. Every princess t-shirt we find a way to lose.

The stuff is everywhere.

6:05 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

Well, Dr. Helen, you want to know who my grandmother was? Her maiden name was Nola Tyndale. She was a direct descendent of William Tyndale. Know who he was? He was the first man to translate the New Testament into English, publisher of the Tyndale Bible. King Henry VIII burned him at the stake, in the Year of Our Lord 1525. (Believe me, I know the story.)

When I was 5, my grandmother would have me stand at the center of the living room, back straight, chest out, chin up, and she would read passages from Shakespeare and have me repeat them back to her from memory. She had earned a master's degree in English literature in the 1920s and had been an English teacher, so you know how that goes.

She would also call me on the phone and tell me to write her a letter about what I had done that day, so I did. Then she would correct my letter in red and send it back to me.

When I entered high school, my parents enrolled me in advanced classes. My English teacher was Mrs. Harwell, who was like my grandmother version 2.0, only worse. On the first day of school, she picked me out of the crowd and said to herself, "I'm going to make an example of this boy to keep everyone else in line."

After that, every time I did not make a 100 on any assignment, she would humiliate me in front of everybody. And God forbid I would ever misspell a word on the chalkboard when she called me to the front of the class, which was every day. So I went to my father and told him that I wanted out of her class, because she hated me.

"Why do you think she hates you?"

"Because every time I don't make a 100 she embarrasses me."

He said, "Well, make a 100."

Mrs. Harwell was my English teacher for four horrible years. My parents deliberately enrolled me in her class every semester. I had to do two hours of homework every night just for her class alone! Just so she wouldn't humiliate me. But she still did, every time I didn't make a 100.

It wasn't until several years later, when I was a senior in college and took an advanced grammar course--I never opened the textbook or studied for one minute for that class, but I made one of only three As, out of 45 students--that I realized Mrs. Harwell, whom I despised, was the best teacher I ever had.

My point is this. Self-esteem is for losers. Parents, adults, used to understand that, which is why they constantly pushed their children to excel, by constantly correcting them. The only real esteem comes from self-improvement, from pushing yourself to be the best you can be.

These days--and I've taught junior high, high school and college--kids seem to think they're special by virtue of their being born. Yet most of them can't even read or write, much less think coherently. That is the fault of their parents who coddled them in their failure to learn.

I wouldn't give a squirt of ant urine for a princess or a prince.

Give me an average girl or guy who can take criticism as a motivation to improve, and I'll show you a winner, in school and in life.

6:22 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger KG2V said...

RE: "team Lead" - at least in my field, there is a huge difference between a "Team lead" and a manager. Your manager does your offical review, and has the "hire/fire" decisions. In general, he works with the input of his team leads - a team lead is like the old "foreman" concept. And example, for the last 3 months, I've been MOSTLY working of "Team E", answering to "team Lead T", except on Mondays, when I worked on team I, answering to team lead L. Starting this Monday, I'll be 4 to 5 days a week on Team I, with the occasional day on team E

The team leads have "input" to your perfomance reviews, and generally tell you what to do "day to day" (I need you to work on this feature, and that- which is sometimes enough to keep you busy on your own for a week or two) - your manager says "I need you to work on this team, or that team

Basically "Manager" has hire/fire, and works at the 30K foot level, where the team lead is often in the trenches with you, and works with the resources assigned by the manager

6:59 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Ern said...

I'm not going to disagree with the claims in the article and in the comments about problems with younger people today. I will note that I work almost exclusively with people less than twenty-five years old, and the ones with whom I work are extraordinarily good. They work hard, they're smart, they're interested in learning new things, and they don't dismiss the value of my experience (I'm more than thirty years older and more-experienced than they are). I know that these folks are among the best of their generation (they're graduates of schools like UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford), but they definitely measure up to the best of the baby boomers.

7:18 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger David Foster said...

lone chatelaine...maybe some of those younger employees would benefit from the thoughts here: ambition and opportunism.

7:47 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

Little princesses grow up to be big princesses. In the grand scheme of things, they are a nonentity. Princesses might think they are important and extraordinary, good for them.

As for the rest of us, all one really have to do is learn to say "NO" to princesses and they cease to be an issue. No, I won't make an exception for you. No, if you continue to do what you are doing I will call the police and make sure you are arrested. No, you can't come late and leave early. No, you can't bring your friends. No, I need payment right now.

Why they are this way is not my problem.

8:08 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Heather, wait a few years and you'll find worse on the store racks. Princess t-shirts will be the least of your worries.

We have learned to avoid families that treat their children like royalty. They are easy to spot - the kids are badly behaved and expect everyone to cater to their desires. They can't stand to lose a game, either. Who needs 'em?

8:50 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

GawainsGhost --

"I wouldn't give a squirt of ant urine..."

Gods I LOVE that and want to use it in one of my books. OK by you?

cham --

Agreed. I usually ask them for their rationale, then laugh out loud. Shuts them up.

No pity or qualms about being cruel to them at all. It's what's been lacking in their life story.

8:55 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

This sounds like it fits right in with the generational cycles described in Winter Is Coming. Cynical, embittered Gen-Xers are raising over-confident, visionary Millenials. The former will carry us through the hard times, and the latter will inherit a world on the rebound, which will reinforce their inflated self image and set the country up for another catastrophe some fifty to seventy years further along.

9:24 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Cappy said...

I wonder where all of this inflated self-esteem without competency will lead us?
You got the answer to that a week ago last Tuesday.

9:33 PM, November 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gen Xers are not raising the self-esteem generation, that would be the Baby Boomers.

Gen Xers, myself included, are making our kids do their homework, checking it, making them correct it themselves, checking it again, making them correct it again, etc.

Yes, I just described every weekday evening in my house. Just last night I checked my second grader's homework five times and made her correct it each time until she got it right.

She was pretty frustrated and ticked off at me by the time it was done, but she got it right and that's what counts.

Most of our friends are Gen Xers and they are raising their kids the same way. Do your work, keep your word, take responsibility for your actions, never say can't, and never give up until you get it right.

We love them, but we don't coddle them.

Granted, not all Gen Xers are raising their kids this way, but blame for the self-esteem movement lies squarely with the Boomers, not us.

However, you can blame Gen Xers all you want if we fail to kill off the self-esteem movement over the next 20 years.

9:43 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

dogwood --

Gen-X, born from ~ 1965 to 1981. Boomers - 1946 to 1954. People in that time started popping kids around twenty? My daughter ('75) had school year round. She didn't even realize that wasn't the norm until high school, when I couldn't afford the private anymore. Ask her about the book reports I assigned sometime.

I think raising the kids has always run across the board and the esteem thing was rather more an academic cultural phenomena that no one, from it's start to right now, has stopped.

Just my opinion. I've never subscribed to the whole generational labeling.

10:26 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

Oligonicella, okay by me.

10:27 PM, November 13, 2008  
Blogger bb said...

Something to consider is that many young people may have been conditioned to respond to these sorts of questions in a conventional manner. That is, they've been taught to state personal assessments in exaggerated terms. The alternative could have often provoked even more pointed questions and potentially some form of therapeutic intervention.

I see this in my work. We interact w/ a lot of 20 somethings in professional settings. One of their most indicative traits is to exaggerate praise. They seem wary of offering criticism, or to even question our analysis. It's something that we have to push for, and even then it's difficult to get their honest opinion.

12:37 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger BarryD said...

I wonder where all of this inflated self-esteem without competency will lead us?

Uh, maybe electing a President with a then resume, and insisting that he's really qualified for the job, for, uh, some reason, then cheering when the votes were tallied as if Jesus has come back to save us all?

I mean, Obama might turn out to be a worthy President, and McCain's years in politics didn't necessarily show him to be the right fit, either. However, when I heard, saw and read adamant defenses of his eminent qualifications of, uh, something or other, I didn't get it.

Can't you vote for someone and say, "Well, he's a gamble, but I think he's the best gamble?" Or is that not okay with the "Everyone's a Winner!" generation?

12:37 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

Dogwood, I agree with you about how we Gen-Xers are raising our kids, but I think the end result will be much the same. The boomers were just spoiled. Our kids aren't spoiled so much as over-attended. We care too much because our parents didn't care enough.

I recommend Winter Is Coming. It was largely based on the work of some other historians, but I can't remember who right now. The authors of those two works posit a repeating pattern of four generational archtypes. I thought their depiction of the relationship between Gen-X and the Millenials was very accurate.

12:44 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

BB raises a point that might throw off the generational archtype theory. This past century has seen mass indoctrination of children by government on an unprecedented scale. Since parents are barely even raising their own children anymore, I wonder what affect that will have on those historical cycles.

12:47 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger BarryD said...

BTW I'm an early Xer, but my only son died. If we have another kid, I hope I can make sure to deal with the emotional fallout. So far, we've done all right; I just know that having another child would bring up "stuff" that hasn't come up.

I know I sure didn't plan to spoil the first kid. I find a lot of the "princess" stuff, and similar, to be repulsive. I just am not arrogant enough to think I know how I'd parent at this point. I know how I'd WANT to.

Now our dogs are well-treated, but they're also trained. :-)

This past century has seen mass indoctrination of children by government on an unprecedented scale. Since parents are barely even raising their own children anymore, I wonder what affect that will have on those historical cycles.

It can be hard to say. Note that my generation was raised on commercials and various sorts of propaganda. We became jaded by it.

I don't think you can brainwash kids to be your own little Hitler Youth army (my parents actually did grow up under Hitler's dictatorship, and it didn't work on them). The most likely outcome is to produce a generation of cynical slackers who often "don't see the point" of activities and goals their parents and grandparents took for granted.

But I have my biases, too.

1:01 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger BarryD said...

One more followup...

In the background, South Park is on TV, with a spoof on "High School Musical". The kids are singing "Everyone is Special" or something. It's treated with the utmost Gen X cynicism.

Now the song is "Singin' 'bout the Status Quo!"

Anything you want to know about how kids are being raised, Matt and Trey will teach you. Just buy South Park DVD's and learn!

1:05 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Mister Wolf said...

I find this whole talk on my own generation, the millennials(I personal hate that name). However, the interactions many of you relate directly counters my own observations. From what I see in class, as well as confirmed by the election, is that a majority generation is willing to conform to empty ideas and platitudes.

Assuming that neither set of observations are incorrect, I can only see one way to reconcile them. My generation desires a "strong leader" and when they find these leaders, they fall perfectly into place. But this leader also needs to pet them just right and tell them how special they are.

Basically, I think that my generation is desires false praise but also want to fall in line perfectly once they receive their praise.

2:29 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger br549 said...

I'm a baby boomer. My youngest brother is a gen Xer, by definition of the given time lines. Both my parents were products of the great depression and WWII, born a few years after the end of WW1.

I have three kids of my own, all in their 20's now, doing well considering. I spoiled them, sure. I wanted them to have things I only dreamed about growing up. But they outsmarted me and grew up OK anyway.

Like many, I would like to see today's kids pull their pants up, put on a belt, turn the ball cap around (throwing it away would even be better) get rid of the tatoos and body piercings and roll up their sleeves and have at it.
Just like my dad wanted me to cut my hair, quit smoking pot, throw away my electric guitar, and get my butt back in school. I'd have been better off doing those things in his time frame instead of my own.

Some of today's kids, they're going to make it.

6:10 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

I am not allergic to the whole princess stage as long as it is in its place and does not extend past 6 or 7. I think it is like the stage boys go through where they are the fastest and the best at everything. It is understandable for a few years, but causes problems poast 8 I think.

From a Jungian perspective, it is part of being treasured and beautiful and special. The problems exist when it fails to yield to reality based evaluations of worth and accomplishment.

Without that transition, problems, often big problems, ensue.


10:19 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger iconoclast said...

Most boys, I think, develop at least some concept of chivarly--showing courage, protecting the weak, accepting setbacks without too much complaint. But what is the message to girls in being a "princess?" Psychologically, a the function of a princess is to be adored, not to actually DO anything.

Historically, the values taught to girls were mainly about sexual restraint rather than the chivalric values. Now that the sexual restraints are pretty much gone in our society, it seems like girls are often being raised with no moral values whatsoever, but with a strong GET YOURS sense of entitlement.

10:39 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger iconoclast said...

Most boys, I think, develop at least some concept of chivarly--showing courage, protecting the weak, accepting setbacks without too much complaint. But what is the message to girls in being a "princess?" Psychologically, a the function of a princess is to be adored, not to actually DO anything.

Historically, the values taught to girls were mainly about sexual restraint rather than the chivalric values. Now that the sexual restraints are pretty much gone in our society, it seems like girls are often being raised with no moral values whatsoever, but with a strong GET YOURS sense of entitlement.

10:39 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I always told my daughter "Remember, a beautiful bitch is still a bitch."

Loved her, adored her, treated her as best I could and expected her to treat me and others well and do her chores.

11:01 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

Iconoclast, that is a really good question concerning gender, socialization, and utility. Thanks for asking it, I bet it will give me something to think about for a long time.


11:09 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Factory said...

I've often wondered at the effect this type of false assurance was having on society. Myself, I have a pet theory (or co-opted it unknowingly) that the "Princess" mentality, coupled with constant bombardment of messages as to how oppressed women are, and how easy men have it....that it leads to dreadfully unrealistic expectations of men.

You can argue the details all day long, but what kind of effect would this type of thing have?

11:11 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Derek said...

BarryD wrote:

"Now our dogs are well-treated, but they're also trained. :-)"

I think I actually like this comment better than the one about a "squirt of ant urine."

11:11 AM, November 14, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Now our dogs are well-treated, but they're also trained."

I've made the comment several times to my wife and friends that parenting is a lot like a pack of dogs in that the Alpha Males (parents) have to keep reminding the pups (kids) of where they fit in to the pack (family).

Teach, nurture, love, encourage, discipline, but they're not in charge, we are, so they have to follow the rules.

Parenting is hard work, but the principles of good parenting are not that hard to understand.

11:29 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Larry J said...

One piece of good advice I heard years ago was to avoid any woman whose father still calls her princess.

There are a fair number of really good young adults in this generation. You can find many of them serving in the military. Sure, they make up only a small percentage of their age group but it only goes to show that we shouldn't be too quick to lump an entire generation into a single category.

3:27 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Ken Gross said...

Placing one's self-worth in performance will ultimately end in a problem. In the real world we always fail at some level. If we go into adult life with an incorrect, which usually means inflated, view of our self-esteem, the balloon will get popped resulting in a painful experience. This draws in self-doubt and could easily lead to an equally irrationally low level of self-worth.

Self-worth may be more realistic if it is based on the content of a person's character. Meaning who they are.

4:03 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Sio said...

While I have a lot of problems with various "boomer" attitudes as a Gen X'er I dont mind a lot of the stereotypes anymore. I've grown up with a lot of these folks, I know they're knuckleheads. I try to let my actions and words speak for themselves at work.

At 30 now, it just saddens me, provides cheap entertainment and hardens my cynical shell. Its amusing to hear my 60 year old mother talk about her young female co-workers in her call center job. She'll often tell me some crazy stories of laziness or entitlement mentality and go, "I'm getting old son, I'm a cranky fusspot". I tell her, "no you're not", well mostly not.

My favorite was the 20s gal who got angry and told HR on Mom and another co-worker for being mean to her because she got blasted in a politics discussion about the election. The young gal had the stupidity to brag that she didnt have insurance and didnt need it because she was a good driver.

Worst part of all this is when she tries to sell me on some of these gals. "Oh, she's cute, you'd like her". Uh, not doing great on the ol' sales pitch there Ma. Desire to be a granny over common sense I suppose. :)

4:11 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I rarely (probably never) make self-esteem a consideration in how I treat my kids or someone else. I give praise for a job well done, correction when not and encouragement when needed. I can't stand princesses, male or female.

One piece of good advice I heard years ago was to avoid any woman whose father still calls her princess.

What if you calls her "monkey girl," "booger baby," or "pumpkin head?" Hmm. I need to get some new nicknames for my daughter.

4:25 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Oh, bother said...

Dr. Helen: I wonder where all of this inflated self-esteem without competency will lead us?

Me: Beginning 01/20/09, we're about to find out.

5:40 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

I was kind of thinking about this past and have decided to write about a very recent experience regarding older princesses in their 20s.

I lead backpacks. Normally I lead very difficult backpacks that cater to an experienced crowd. But one of my friends who is not experienced with the computer wanted to lead an easier backpack and he asked me to post the event on a Meetup site to get some interest. The Meetup site I chose caters to people in their 20s. We do this for free, so it is unpaid and voluntary.

I allowed 8 people to attend this event. 8 signed up, 7 women, 1 man. None of these people knew each other. 3 weeks before the event was to occur I started to get emails from the participants. They wanted special favors. What was unique was that all 7 women asked for some sort of special favor.

2 wanted to come without having the appropriate gear, 3 wanted to bring their friends even though the friends weren't officially signed up, 1 wanted me to miraculously change the event because she wanted to get home early, and 1 requested to sign up after the sign-up deadline.

Now Helen is the psychologist not me, but I have come to a conclusion about this. These women were filled with self-esteem from all this self-esteem building, and boy did they have self-esteem. The idea behind this asking for special favors was a subconscious way of making sure that I, the leader, knew that each one of these women were special and deserved special privileges.

Each woman assumed that they were the only one asking for special treatment, little did they know I was getting barraged with special-treatment requests. It got to the point where I hated to open my email box. God looked at me kindly that weekend, and the forecast called for buckets of rain so I canceled the event.

All I know is that I will never ever ever offer to lead a simple backpack on flat ground in a National Park ever again.

If anyone wants to give me their input about why this happened, I'd appreciate it.

6:10 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Cham - didn't any of these gals ask how many guys were going on the trip? When I used to hike with the Sierra Club in California, it was believed to be a great way to meet guys. Except... so many girls went, the guys were way outnumbered.

Oh, I think your analysis was dead on.

6:17 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

Marbel: Welcome to 2008, for this particular group you have to post a picture of yourself and write a short bio about who you are and your hiking skillset. So everyone knows who is coming and what they look like before they sign up.

The Sierra Club near me used to have a reputation as a meet market back in the 80s. I don't think it is like that anymore. Women seem to gravitate to these hiking groups for some reason. Maybe they like the structure.

6:25 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger ak said...

I have two nieces about the same age, one on my husband's side and one on mine. They both love the princess thing--the plastic tiaras, the clothes, the Disney dolls and videos. It makes them feel pretty and the center of attention. But beyond that, they are two different little girls. One doesn't have a manner to her name and has no idea how to behave anywhere outside her family home (and she doesn't do that well there either). The other is funny and has a sweet, loving personality. What really matters, as I see it, is what their parents are telling them about how to behave and how to treat others.

6:39 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Marbel: Welcome to 2008, for this particular group you have to post a picture of yourself...

Oh, I am so out of it...

7:30 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Cham - interesting story. Reminds me of some of the young women, fresh graduates, at my work. Lots of special requests usually followed up by an email with a smiley face. Ugh!

9:35 AM, November 15, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

You call them princesses, I call them future recipients of community property.

10:34 AM, November 15, 2008  
Blogger Sissy Willis said...

The road to Hell comes to mind.

1:18 PM, November 15, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

Dadvocate: Yep, there were smiley faces in those emails that I got. Not only did I get a bunch of smiley faces, but after I responded with very firm "NO", 2 of the women immediately replied with the same request all over again. They don't take no for an answer I guess. :)

1:48 PM, November 15, 2008  
Blogger Donna B. said...

My granddaughter's nickname is Stinkerbelle. Her self-esteem, at 20 months, is healthy. Her mother majored in mathematics and spent four years in the Army and I think it is my grandmotherly duty to see to it that my granddaughter has at least one outfit per year with either ruffles or lace.

I'm not about to push my luck and get one with both.

What do you get when you cross a princess with a sergeant?

1:47 AM, November 16, 2008  
Blogger Jennifer Stites said...

Piper Palin's running mate...

7:09 AM, November 16, 2008  
Blogger Donna B. said...

hee hee... good one jennifer!

4:08 PM, November 16, 2008  
Blogger Eric said...

In the classic movie, "Parenthood", there is a plot arc where Steve Martin's (Baby Boomer) character struggles to balance work demands with being available at home to help his struggling young son. For most dedicated GenX parents I know, there would never be a conflict between attending their kids baseball game or putting in some extra hours schmoozing clients. The baseball game would win out every time, and the boss/managter would probably know better than to even ask the parent to make the decision.

That is a critical difference, I think, between the parenting styles of Boomers vs. GenXers.

The Boomers leaned heavily on verbal affirmations and cognitive associations in order to instill a sense of importance in their children.

GenX'ers tend to rely more on giving their attention and actual physical presence to make their kids feel important.

While I agree this can lead to young adults who suffer from self-centeredness and false feelings of entitlement (something that the real world is often quick to correct for you), there is also this: moreso perhaps than any other generation, these kids associate caring with concrete, tangible, verifiable actions. In spite of the conventional wisdom, this trade-off might actually result in a net gain for society... but time will tell.

(I should probably confess here that I am a GenX parent).

12:11 PM, November 17, 2008  
Blogger BarryD said...

The Sierra Club near me used to have a reputation as a meet market back in the 80s. I don't think it is like that anymore. Women seem to gravitate to these hiking groups for some reason. Maybe they like the structure.

Maybe it's because the Sierra Club used to include outdoorsy types who liked to camp and hike, and might even fish and hunt, but now the membership looks more like PeTA in khakis?

I've met a number of the old school conservationist Sierra Club ex-members lately, as well as the newer wave. The above has been what I've observed, and it seems like a good number of males belonged to the old school -- and that a number of the newer male members come off, to put it bluntly, as wussies.

12:23 PM, November 17, 2008  
Blogger Thergrim said...

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers." --Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato

Language was invented so that the older generation could complain about the short comings of the newer generation. Thanks for keeping this tradition alive.

12:55 PM, November 17, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

When the Internet started and everybody created themselves usernames I routinely bumped into names like "happygrl" and "kittyluv". I don't see too many of those anymore, but today I had a conversation with someone who calls herself, "verysmartgirl".

6:35 PM, November 17, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:50 PM, November 17, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

I've met a number of the old school conservationist Sierra Club ex-members lately, as well as the newer wave. The above has been what I've observed, and it seems like a good number of males belonged to the old school -- and that a number of the newer male members come off, to put it bluntly, as wussies.

Long time ago now, I hiked with the "Sierra Singles" group. I doubt I will ever forget the guy who kept droning on about the importance of breast cancer research. I guess he was trying to impress me with his sensitivity? And there were a few old school guys who were disgusted with the wussification of the group - epitomized by the disclaimer "threat of rain cancels" on hike announcements. Since that was around '91, I suspect it's only gotten worse.

Last night my daughter (9) and I watched the movie "The Little Princess" together. (Orphaned girl, mean boarding school headmistress, lost fortune...) One of the recurring lines was "Every girl is a princess." Gag. But the princess of the story was characterized by strength, wisdom, resiliency, caring, courage. Not what most "princesses" of today are known for.

Of course the book is much better.

8:21 PM, November 17, 2008  
Blogger Master Doh-San said...

Several years ago, a writer in the South Florida Sun Sentinel remarked that "when you sacrifice competence for self-esteem, what you're left with is idiots who feel good about themselves".

Couldn't have said it any better.

8:30 PM, November 17, 2008  
Blogger gt said...

The general point might have been right, the data to support it are suspect. In 1975 being a good husband or daddy was uncool, answering surveys was uncool. These days, twice as many of the kids -do- get straight A's in school - grade inflation.

10:47 PM, November 18, 2008  
Blogger Kort said...

I missed being a member of Gen-X by a year.

My son, currently 5, wanted to be a dragonslayer for Halloween. His favorite game right now? "Daddy, you be the king, Mommy, you be the Queen and I'll be the knight and kill the invisible ninjas." (I mentioned he's 5, right?

His best friends little sister is almost 4 and they hate playing with her, even though they like playing with girls. Why? Because she's "Princess Haley" (what her mom calls her) and very, very bossy. I call her Haley-bug and everything I make for her has ladybugs on it. Apparently, the only person she behaves for is me. Her mom, btw, is at the very tail end of the baby boomers.

Regarding my own experience, I managed to get "A"s in most of my classes in high school with one exception. I got a lot of B+'s in English. The one time I complained about him being the only person to not give me an A, he said he'd talk to my other teachers and I wouldn't get an A until I earned one. Final semester of my senior year, we were assigned 1 essay, 1 page long, and it made up our entire grade for the semester. I worked my ass off on that paper and got my first A in English in High School.

I got A's in all of my English classes in college and, as an English major, I took a lot of them. I turned in papers that my high school English teacher would have laughed at and handed back to me but were still the best written, best reasoned papers in the class. I ended up tutoring other English majors on basic grammar. I got the highest grade ever awarded in the Creative Non-Fiction class. I never would have bothered to do any of that if I hadn't had to earn that damned A in High School.

My son is learning to spell and write right now. He writes "books" with little stories that follow the conventional plot diagram. I am so proud of him for doing that, he's miles ahead of his pre-K class, and he gets frustrated when gets a word wrong. I anticipate years of helping him correct his homework, and of watching him help his little brothers and sisters as they get here. My sons will continue to play knights and soldiers and my daughters will definitely not be princesses.

In fact, I think the best things to teach girls in not how to be a princess but the loophole associated with the fact that no man could kill the king of the nazgul.

12:56 AM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger ConnectingTheDots said...

Very interesting blog; I just discovered it...congrats Dr. Helen.

An issue related to some of your post and the resulting comments here is Obama’s membership in Generation Jones (between the Boomers and Generation X). I’ve seen numerous very credible experts say recently that Obama is part of GenJones; if Obama’s generational identity is of interest to you, click this link…it goes to a page filled with lots of articles and videos of many prominent people discussing Obama’s identity as a GenJoneser, and the many implications of this for his Presidency:

12:55 PM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger br549 said...


You blew the "A" on your post in the last sentence. And you were doing so well.

Hopes; dashed by a typo.....

10:34 AM, November 23, 2008  
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