These Kids Have Too Much Self-Esteem

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Last Thursday the Wire brought you a couple clichés about today's youth, courtesy of The New York Times. Today, we discover that they are not only anxious about being waitlisted for college. They're also spoiled, in the opinion of Tim Elmore (founder of a non-profit to "develop emerging leaders"). "We are in the age of the 'Wanted Child,'" he declares, where self-esteem has been "taken ... to an extreme." Elmore's certainly not the first to this conclusion, as people have been lamenting this generation's excessive self-esteem for years.

So how does Elmore explain the problem? "Adults have chosen to focus on and serve this generation of young people more than any in recent history." Their parents "dote over them," TV networks cater to them, and schools and colleges inflate their grades. Elmore explains why a seventeen-year-old named Seth has quit four jobs in one month:

Seth has never had to sustain a responsible position in his life. When he needed his clothes washed, Mom did it. When he needed his bed made--Mom was happy to step in. When he needed money, Dad had it for him. ... All of his needs were met by loving parents. But did they really demonstrate love for him? ... Seth's parents have not prepared him for life because they have served him so well. Unfortunately, Seth is entering a world that doesn't share his parents' desire to meet his every need. Now, Seth is getting acquainted with that world, and he wants to quit.

Elmore rounds off this well-worn lament by saying that his generation really does want to change the world, but doesn't want to work for it. "They are both slackers and activists. Consequently, for most of them, their involvement is limited to buying a 'Live Strong' wristband or signing a petition off of a website."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.