October 4, 2011

Soapbox: The Entitlement Generation

Last month, I listened to an interesting story on CBC Radio, CBC Books - Are today's students too entitled? As I sat there nodding and occasionally shaking my head, it dawned on me that O M G, I am O L D. Only old farts sit around tsk, tsking "this generation"! However much that will never change, the challenges each generation presents and has to deal with continue to change at a rapid pace.

The generation entering University now, offspring of the helicopter parents, has been labelled the most entitled generation of all time. They expect high salaries, an extensive employee onboarding program, regular check-in meetings with peers and supervisors to make sure projects are on track, and their parents to intercede on their behalf whether it be grades (in post-secondary) or salary negotiation. They don't have a lot going for them other than knowing how to drive, tweet, download music and program a GPS at the same time.

How did they get this way? By being spoiled, or coddled if you prefer, by their adoring parents. I used to work in human resources, the helicopter parents are not a myth. They think they are doing their kids a favour by being there every step of the way, but at some point they need to learn to let go so their kids can grow up and be accountable for their own actions. Parents are still packing lunches for high-schoolers and buying them luxury cars. What happened to being an adult? Has childhood been extended into the 20s? Kids need to learn life skills which include being able to feed themselves, keep their rooms clean and take out the trash.

I am a proud Gen-Xer. We may be less hard working than our parents' generation because we see how hard they worked, how little they were around and how many committed to one employer only to be let go at the first hint of economic downturn, but we are known to be independent and eager to learn new skills. Gen X is probably the last somewhat political generation as well. We cared about causes, organized and attended rallies, and volunteered for nonprofit organizations. If you listen to the CBC clip, you will hear the girl's response to why her generation isn't politically involved - she pretty much says that the University should light the fire under the students' butts and organize events for interested people to attend. Yep, pass the buck and pass me a bucket to puke in at the same time.

To clearly illustrate how things have changed since I was in my late teens, I provided several scenarios for our guests - My Mom (in the mid 90's), and Today's Mom - to answer. Didn't you know time-travelling was one of my secret talents (and so is it any surprise my kids are tswarpers?)

Kid: I'm hungry, what's for dinner?
My Mom: Food, as soon as you help me make it.
Today's Mom: Steak and lobster. It's just gonna be another 5 minutes on the barby. Do you want a beer while you wait?

Kid: I want to get a car.
My Mom: Why, when bus stop's right in front of our house? Since a car isn't a necessity, if you want it, you're gonna have to pay for it.
Today's Mom: I think an SUV is much better for this climate. Your Dad and I were thinking of the BMW X5 or a Range Rover. What do you think?

Kid: I want to go away for school.
My Mom: How are you going to pay for that?
Today's Mom: Let's start looking for furniture for your new place! Ooh and we can go on a shopping trip to check out the campus!

Kid: I got a bad mark on that paper I stayed up all night writing. Will you speak to my prof?
My Mom: Of course not! Your crappy grade is your own fault. You shouldn't have left it to the last minute, stupid girl.
Today's Mom: Of course, dear. What's his phone number? I'll set up a meeting. Your Dad should probably come too.

Kid: Is there anything else I can take for lunch? I didn't like yesterday's sandwich.
My Mom: You made it so I don't know why you're complaining to me.
Today's Mom: Sorry about that. We ran out of Dijon. Here's $10. Buy whatever you want at the food court.

Kid: I'm stressed about my midterms. Can we go shopping?
My Mom: If you're stressed, it's because you haven't been working hard enough. Get back to the books. But if you have free time, you can help me fold this laundry.
Today's Mom: Oh honey, that's a great idea. We haven't been spending enough time together since you started University. Why don't I book us mani-pedis for after?

If I were the parent of an entitled kid, I'd be scared about what's gonna happen to me in my old age, but that's not gonna happen as long as I'm boss. Would you agree today's students are overly entitled?

P.S. I'm recovering from a nasty bug so wasn't able to channel all of the inner demons and be as snarky as usual. Please stay tuned for the next installment of "My husband is secretly trying to kill me" as well as a scandalous Photo Friday.


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