Last weekend I read an article in The Age – “Is this the most narcissistic generation we’ve ever seen?”. It struck such a chord with me that I immediately sent the link to Father of a Man-Child asking him if it was familiar. Not surprisingly he agreed it was in fact too close for comfort. It was such an interesting read, that it’s prompted me to write a blog post about it.
Here’s the original post for reference. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/is-this-the-most-narcissistic-generation-weve-ever-seen-20130419-2i5ne.html
In a nutshell the author presents an argument that today’s teenagers are so narcissistic, that some of them are in fact suffering from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)!! Now my personal view is that the “disorder” bit might be a bit extreme, however when I read the article, there were definite signs in my men-children of said narcissism. And for me this came back to an often-touted view of mine (and countless parents before me) that teenagers are so focused on their own world, they are virtually oblivious to the rest of it. We have daily reminders of this in our household at the moment.
Just think about their lives. With everything at their fingertips, how are they learning patience? You want to know something, Google it. You want to chat to friends – text them, or call them 24/7. You want food – don’t wait for the meal that your parents have slaved over, just eat on the spot, and then skip dinner (we are fighting a losing battle during school holidays around this). You want money (immediately), just demand it from your parents – the mobile ATM, even when they are at work and expected to drop everything to do said internet transfer. You want a lift somewhere, just ask, and be completely flabbergasted when you are told that the tram is still running and you can use it. You want to be picked up from school – don’t then send a message reversing the request when said parent has battled through traffic to get half way there.
We even had a recent case where we were told that yes it would be nice to go on a holiday to escape the Melbourne winter, but could this particular narcissistic man-child fly independently and be with us for a shorter time period, because he didn’t want to spend 10 days of his precious holidays with the family, when he could be at home alone spending it with friends. Never mind the implications of the decision, the inconvenience, the arrangements required, or just the sheer cheek and ungratefulness. Part of us wanted to tell him we would gladly leave him home alone, and the other part wanted to make him endure 10 days on a family holiday. We picked the latter by the way. It’s our last year to “enjoy” family holidays with the boys, and we are confident they will actually have a good time themselves once there. It also means they will be forced to recharge their batteries, slow down, eat well, drink less, and generally have a proper holiday (not one spent burning the candle and over indulging in the things 17 year olds like to do).
So who do we blame for the narcissistic tendencies our own teenagers show (or those even more extreme in the article)? I actually think it’s two-fold. Part of it is the world they are growing up in, and part of it is the role we as parents play. Even when it feels like a losing battle, we need to impart our values and beliefs, and behave in the way we want them to behave in (easier said than done), and teach them to understand how the wider world works and the part they play in it. We need to stand tall, and set an example, in the knowledge that somehow, via osmosis almost, those values will over time manage to seep into the sub-conscious of our children and they will in turn adopt the same standards.
I particularly liked the reference in the article to gratitude: “One of the best ways to combat entitlement is to be grateful for what you already have…….Gratitude is the opposite of entitlement. You think about what you already have, instead of what you deserve to have but don’t.” I think we have some work to do on this front with one of our men-children in particular.
I must ask my father if he recalls the same narcissistic attitude when we were teenagers? I expect he would. I also think he would confidently tell me that we didn’t all turn into completely narcissistic adults so it was after all just a phase. Let’s hope so, for my sake and the men-children’s! 🙂
Would love to hear your thoughts. Do you agree with the article? Do you think they’re worse this generation than ever before?