Sunday, March 18, 2012

Generation Entitlement

I read an article last week about how children/teens of this generation are going to be called "Generation Entitlement." This struck me as both interesting and sad. It also struck me as completely true.

The next day I was talking to a couple of students about the dress code at my school. Of course, they were complaining. One student commented that the principal approached her about her shorts being too short and told her to go to the office. She told me that she walked away from him while he was talking to her. (Now, I don't actually believe her because if she had actually walked away from him while he was talking, she would have gotten in some pretty big trouble.)

Other students began chiming in and saying things like "I don't know who they think they are, telling us what we can and can't wear. They don't have the right." In light of the article I just read, I began a discussion with the students about this very issue.

I explained that teachers and other adults do have the right because there are rules that need to be followed, whether at home, at school, at work, or in the grocery store. I explained that there is a standard of behavior that all people need to follow. There is an expectation of common decency. I told them you don't have to like or agree with everyone, but you should treat everyone with some semblance of respect and common courtesy. I said as teenagers in this generation, they seem to think that they have the same rights as adults. I asked how many of them call most adults they know (other than teachers) by their first name. Most students raised their hands. I asked how many use the terms "sir" or "ma'am" when addressing an adult they don't know. Not a single student raised a hand.

They said that people need to earn their respect. I said that while this is generally true, children need to be respectful (polite and courteous) to everyone, especially adults, because if children are not respectful, they will never earn the respect of adults. I reiterated that you don't have to like everyone you meet, but you should be nice to everyone, and when children act as though they are equal to adults, children assume things that are not earned. They overwhelmingly said that they are "entitled" to treat people how they choose and they are "entitled" to behave and do as they choose.

I once again explained, that you earn things in this world; nothing is given to you, and if you expect things to be given to you, you will be in for a rude awakening when you leave home. I said, once again, that they need to be respectful.

Several students agreed with me, but a few said, "I disagree, I don't have to treat anyone with respect if I don't want to."

To which I said, "Case and point. Thank you for proving my point."

Again, very sad. I am grateful that I can at least teach my children to be respectful of everyone.