Are we raising Generation I?

Thursday 19 September 2013

We're breeding and cultivating a Generation I complete with the Me, Myself and I mentality. I know you're, Marlene, don't you think that's harsh? Perhaps it is. But I'm merely stating the reality in first world countries as well as in the emerging nations like India, Indonesia and China, thanks to the rise of global middle class.

We have less kids. We have more disposable incomes. We've experienced hardship (well, to a certain degree though that can't be compared to those who went through war or faced abject poverty). We want a better life for our little darlings. They're no strangers to iPad, iPhones, Legoland, Disneyland, Wii, Nintendo DS. They don't know what hunger feels like because we have a cupboard full of snacks. Just in case if they're hungry after breakfast, before or after lunch and dinner.

They're given options when they're dining. No wonder they're fussy. I'd be fussy too if I have minions (aka parents) to cater to my whims. Most households I know prepare 2 dinners every single night (though I understand that most kids can't deal with spicy food and neither can I). Then there are the helicopter parents (yes, I've been guilty of being one too) hovering to rescue our kids instead of teaching them to be more independent and to learn to accept consequences for their actions. I've always believed the best way to cure a child of their hitting/kicking/biting fetish is to give them a taste of their own medicine. There's nothing like experiencing pain to stop them dead in their tracks. Nip it in the bud or they'll grow up to become bullies.

The thing is how do they comprehend gratitude if they've never experienced hardship? Or instead of feeling privileged, it's a case of entitlement? How do they appreciate gifts when they get a mountain of stuff on their wish list every Christmas and birthday? There's a danger in this kind of love because it's like karma. Without learning compassion, kindness or even gratitude, how would we expect our "over-loved" kids to show those very important emotions to us when they're adults?

I found this "note" on a blog some years ago and I've got it taped on my wall as a reminder to myself.

Notes from a child  - Anonymous

1. Don’t spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all I ask for. I’m only testing you.

2. Don’t be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it, it makes me feel secure.

3. Don’t let me form bad habits. I have to rely on you to detect them in the early stages.

4. Don’t make me feel smaller than I am. It only makes me behave stupidly “big”.

5. Don’t correct me in front of people if you can help it. I’ll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.

6. Don’t make me feel that my mistakes are sins. It upsets my sense of values.

7. Don’t protect me from consequences. I need to learn the painful way sometimes.

8. Don’t be too upset when I say “I hate you”. Sometimes it isn’t you I hate but your power to thwart me.

9. Don’t take too much notice of my small ailments. Sometimes they get me the attention I need.

10. Don’t nag. If you do, I shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.

11. Don’t forget that I cannot explain myself as well as I should like. That is why I am not always accurate.

12. Don’t put me off when I ask questions. If you do, you will find that I stop asking and seek my information elsewhere.

13. Don’t be inconsistent. That completely confuses me and makes me lose faith in you.

14. Don’t tell me my fears are silly. They are terribly real and you can do much to reassure me if you try to understand.

15. Don’t ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too great a shock when I discover that you are neither.

16. Don’t ever think that it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me feel surprisingly warm towards you.

17. Don’t forget I love experimenting. I couldn’t get along without it, so please put up with it.

18. Don’t forget how quickly I am growing up. It must be very difficult for you to keep pace with me, but please do try.

19. Don’t forget that I don’t thrive without lots of love and understanding, but I don’t need to tell you, do I?

20. Please keep yourself fit and healthy. I need you.



  1. Bravo Marlene! These are exactly the things keeping me awake at night.

    1. Angela, it's difficult, isn't it? Sometimes we need to be tough in order to set them on the right path.

    2. i think we need to bring the tiger mom out!

  2. You are so spot on with this post - I often feel guilty because I know that I've been incredibly blessed during my childhood, and now, to not have to go without, yet I haven't truly given back. I think it's important for parents to hold out, in some areas, when children request things. Their lives won't end without it!

  3. Very true, Marlene. Will always, and always reminding myself of these notes. Thanks for sharing. - I Ying

  4. Marlene, what a powerful post. I don't have any kids, but I can tell you that your concerns are shared by so many friends with or without kids.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Cat

    1. Thank you, Cat. It's a constant dilemma that's shared amongst my friends and I.

  5. Marlene,

    very, very insightful. I just saw this clip and thought of your post, me thinks the two are sort of connected, no?

    1. Thank you for the encouraging words. I'll look up the video right away. Thanks again for the recommendation.

  6. Marlene this a very insightful post and the notes are great a reminder, maybe I should print them off :)

    Take care and have a nice weekend,
    Daniella xox

  7. I remember we had this conversation over lunch :-) I will never thank my parents enough for being strict, not covering me with gifts, yet making me feel loved while I grew up.

  8. What a wonderful wonderful list. I'm bookmarking it immediately, and hopefully when I have children I'll remember to look it up again as a reminder!

  9. Great post and you're absolutely right. It's something I keep in mind at all times, because like you, I have an only child and sometimes it's difficult not to give them their heart's desires. But I don't! And she has to save up to buy things she wants ... it's my way of trying to instil some sense of appreciation. Love the final note that you shared. May just print that out for myself too.

  10. I totally agree that our kids have it too easy. I was brought up working for my pocket money and that everything didn't come handed in on a plate. And I remind Ben and George all the time about how lucky they are but the fact is they don't know any different. Different eras and different upbringings. I just hope mine grow up and appreciate how lucky they are and that everything is not measured by material goods and that a hug and a kiss means just as much.

    That list also serves as a reminder to myself that they are people in their own right and not my mini-me's. And to respect what they do too. Even if it drives me mad.

  11. I completely agree. I am so guilty of those things that my kids should't get. Those notes from a child will be my reminders to refrain from treating my kids the wrong way. What an eye opener!

  12. I absolutely loved this post Marlene and can see why you kept that list! It is so often to read things that children do wrong or how to mould them to suit a parents lifestyle and not often enough we get to hear about how our little innocents interpret the world and interact with us. It's really beautiful to read!

    - Mandi

  13. Eh, every single generation thinks the next generation is narcissistic and "me me me". You can actually find more or less identical articles from The Times on this very thing every decade! Including about the silent generation!

    I actually agree with most of the notes from a child but do not agree with how a lot of people interpret it.

    I think artificial constraints to "teach a lesson" teach a very different lesson than intended and do more harm than good. Kids aren't dumb, if you are very well of materially they can tell that your refusing to give them things is about your decision and priorities and not about frugality or ability. Growing up my parents had much less money than most of my classmates - I never asked them for things I wanted but didn't need because I knew they'd love to give me whatever I wanted but had constraints and I didn't want them to feel bad. I was treated as part of the family and acted that way. I can't imagine how I'd have felt if instead the "deprivation" (pretty light as deprivation goes! I always had everything I needed!) was just because they were trying to "teach me a lesson." Doesn't mean a kid's room should be overflowing with toys or anything but the whole idea of kids "earning" their allowance rubs me the wrong way. They should be doing the dishes because it's part of being family not because you'll give them money and you should support them monetarily because it's part of being a parent and caring about your child IMO.

    Telling someone to be grateful and how lucky they are also does not tend to produce good results IMO. Kids learn more from watching you than from what you tell them. If you model gratitude and appreciation than that's what they'll learn. But nothing destroys gratitude faster than someone trying to force you to express it.


    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Victoria. Much appreciated. You're right about lip service. They hear but it goes in one ear and goes out the other. It's through actions. I'd like to think that there are various ways to teach the kids as each is different from the other. While I don't pay mine to do her chores and I expect her friends to do the same when they're in my place (tidy up after they've played, bring their empty plates to the sink etc), some do and it works for them.

      Yes, it's wrong if a family's very well off and deliberately deprive their children so that they learn how to appreciate things. I guess it's striking the right balance which can be easier said than done.



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