July 18, 2007

Blame It on Mr. Rogers: Why Young Adults Feel So Entitled

I read an interesting article by Jeff Zaslow the other day in the Wall Street Journal. I must say that I agree with some of what Jeff says in the article. If you too would like to read it, just click on this link: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118358476840657463.html?mod=blog

As the Author, Founder and President of the Parenting with Dignity Foundation and keeping in mind what we have created is a nine-week curriculum that teaches parenting skills, I was interested to read what he had to say about the manner in which children act in today's world. Our curriculum is based upon the unavoidable truth that children will make all of the big decisions in their own lives! In order to have the ability to make great decisions for themselves children must be taught HOW to make good decisions.

Finding Fault Bears Little Fruit

However, I am not quite as willing to blame everything that has gone wrong in the raising of American children on Mr. Rogers. I believe very strongly that our culture has such a distorted view of what the term Self-Esteem means that in two books and nine hours of video I rarely, if ever, even use the term! I agree with the Jeff Zaslow that many parents, educators, child psychologists, and others working with children today believe that they can create high self-esteem in their children by some artificial means of unfounded praise and by using terms like “special”.

That being said, I doubt that few parents learned their distorted view of what it takes to raise a self-directed and self-confident child from some guy in a sweater on a kid’s television program. Even if Mr. Rogers did overuse the term “special”, any application or misapplication of that concept in any family required a decision to do so on the part of the parents!

I believe that far too many adults in America speak of the younger generation as if they had nothing to do with them!

Pointing a finger of blame at some fellow on TV borders upon being ludicrous. Pointing the finger of blame at anyone, for that matter, is equally useless. The purpose of my statements here is not to point the finger of blame at anyone

Children Usually Do what They Have Been Taught

The truth of the matter is that most children do just about exactly what we taught them to do, and they give us just about exactly what we are willing to accept.

The burden of responsibility for how children act today lies directly upon the shoulders of the parents who raised them! Jeff Zaslow, the author of that article, seems to be simply jumping on the bandwagon and attempting to point out what is wrong with kids. But to me that is the problem... he gives almost no mention of even a possible solution. To him I would reply, “If you see a problem and you are not a part of the solution; you are one of the biggest part of the problem!”

A Solution
I firmly believe that the solution to the well identified problem outlined by Jeff Zaslow, lies in teaching parents HOW to teach their children to make good decisions for themselves!

Teaching children morals, values, ethics, and spiritual beliefs for use in making big and important decisions is the key.

The problem is that “orchestrating successful outcomes” for children early in life without teaching them how to make the decisions that result in those outcomes is fruitless. This is not Mr. Roger’s fault. It does not even matter who is at fault. Fixing blame rarely results in any meaningful change.

Solving the Problem is the Key Issue!

Education of parents is the critical action that will result in a change in the decisions and attitudes of the children of our nation and of the world. We must teach children how to make great decisions!

So many parents have accepted the fallacy that it is what they, the parents, know that will protect and guide their children and that is simply not true. It is what the children know and use to make decisions that will result in positive outcomes for those children. Whether the parent spanks their children or praises them is really of little consequence; it is what they teach them that results in the positive outcomes for the child.

Parenting with Dignity does just that! Parenting with Dignity does just that… it acknowledges that children will make all of the big decisions in their lives so, the curriculum gives simple and behaviorally described techniques for parents to use in teaching their children how to make big good decisions.


Anonymous said...

Good Morning!
Zaslow's finger-pointing article is equating over-entitlement with self-esteem. In looking for a target to blame, Zaslow also models a degree of over-entitlement himself! He seems to be implying he deserves a better world than the one he is living in and it is someone else's fault!

Mr. Rogers did say that we are all special or unique. We are each a unique grain of sand on a beach, one of millions and yet the beach would not be the same without us. I disagree with Mr. Zaslow that we are special through working hard and having high expectations. We are special simply through being, and that is only a part of who we are.

Children will do what works. If the behaviors associated with over-entitlement have worked in a child's life, that child will continue to assume that they deserve the results they've been getting. Over-entitlement is not the same as having high self-esteem. Changing the response to the child's behavior will help shift that underlying belief and help create more self-reliance.

Thanks for another great post!

Wishing you well -
Maggie Macaulay, MS Ed

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bledsoe, well said and thank you. As a junior high teacher I am constantly banging MY head against the wall of "but I love my child. He/she gets so much love and acknowlegement at home, I can't understant why/he/she is having these problems." Bang, bang, bang . . . what are you TEACHING your child about making appropriate decisions?????? Love is not enough. Thank you for your insight and your PwD curriculum. I keep sending my parents to it

Rosalind Sedacca said...

Greetings all!

I, too, agree with your comments around parenting with dignity. One of the times in which this dignity is often thrown to the wind is when a divorce or separation is pending. That's when we really see how truly committed a parent is to loving, protecting and caring for their children, especially their emotional and psychological needs. It is frightening to see how parents get so caught up in their own emotional drama that they lose sight of how traumatically they are affecting their innocent children -- who are often riddled with guilt, shame, blame, futility, depression and more. I am hoping that your educational thrust on effective parenting will hold over, should a divorce come about, so that true parenting with dignity prevails -- for the sake of the children.

Keep up the good work!
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT