Are Kids Today More Overindulged?

New research shows emerging adults believe they are narcissistic and entitled.

Posted Jul 17, 2019

A recent study by Joshua Grubbs et al. examined how emerging adults feel when labeled as the most narcissistic and entitled age-group. He found that:

…emerging adults believe their age-group and the one following them (e.g., adolescents) to be the most narcissistic and entitled age-groups, that they have generally negative opinions of narcissism and entitlement, and that they respond negatively to being labeled as narcissistic and entitled.”

Bruce Mars/Pexels/License CCO
Source: Bruce Mars/Pexels/License CCO

The belief that children are more overindulged, narcissistic, spoiled, and entitled today compared to previous generations is not new. Over 2,500 years ago Socrates 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.

Thoughts during the early 20th-century were not much different. In the February 1922 edition of The Ladies Home Journal, Beatrice Barmby pended an article titled, “What Are We Doing With Our Children." She wrote:

By our modern luxury of habit, by our overlavishness in supply, we are in danger of robbing our children of the valuable quality we children used to call “sand,” “grit,” and which my mother called “backbone,” meaning a moral firmness, an ability to endure discomfort and unhappiness…

As a natural result of our modern methods our children do not expect consequences; they grow up instead with the firm conviction that they have a right to do what they please…

Another consequence of overindulgence, less vital perhaps, but nevertheless important, is that our children are growing up without a sense of value.”

More recently, Joel Stein put it this way in a Time magazine article, "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation":

"I am about to do what old people have done throughout history: call those younger than me lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow."

Perhaps every generation looks back on their formative years through rosy glasses and sees the following generation with critical eyes.

Bredehoft
Source: Bredehoft

Tell me what you think. Click here to take a quick 3 question survey on the predominance of childhood overindulgence today.

One way to evaluate the question “Are kids more overindulged and narcissistic than we were?” is to look at today’s numbers through the lens of childhood overindulgence. Remember, parents can overindulge children in three ways—first, by giving them too much of everything; second, overnurturing them by being overprotective, hovering, helicopter, snowplow parents; and third, through soft structure, or being too lenient, not having rules or not enforcing the ones they do have. Consider the following facts and decide for yourself if children today are more overindulged than previous generations:

Examples of Too Much

Examples of Overnurture

Examples of Soft Structure

Conclusion: Kids today are more overindulged than we were, and a culture of overindulgence is the new normal.

Do all things with Love, Grace, and Gratitude

© 2019 David J. Bredehoft

References

Grubbs J. B., Exline, J. J., McCain, J., Campbell, W. K., & Twenge, J. M. (2019). Emerging adult reactions to labeling regarding age-group differences in narcissism and entitlement. PLoS ONE, 14(5), e0215637.

Stein J. (2013, May). Millennials: The me http://time.com/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/me me generation. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/