Saturday, March 30, 2013

Generation Y

Throughout Lent, I really tried to work on humility. I reflected a lot on making sure that I wasn't being overly willful or taking too much pride in my accomplishments (few as they may be). And then a devoted purveyor of my blog writes in a request topic. Suddenly, I feel like a real blogger.

So, thanks for the ego boost, Scoon. Here is your requested post topic!

To begin, I was directed to this article. 3-mistakes-we-make-leading-kids. It's from a blog by a chap named Tim Elmore, who writes about development and stuff. If you're lazy like me, you probably didn't even take the time to click the link; so I'll summarize, you lazy poop. Elmore points out that society is raising an entire generation of humans that can't do anything for themselves. His first insight gives a fresh look into risk-taking versus risk-aversion, measured as a psychological impediment to development. The rest of the the article falls into the same anecdotal theme that I'm sure we've all heard: Helicopter parent syndrome leading to inept young adults. My essay today, however, is not to criticize modern upbringing techniques, or a nostalgic look at the days that children could play all day unsupervised. Although I do agree wholeheartedly with those notions. I want to speak to those that have been developmentally stunted by the shortcoming of their parents.

Namely, Everyone.

Nobody's parents did a perfect job. Even my mom, from time to time, will admit that she may have had a few missteps along the way. I, of course, wholeheartedly disagree with her every time. I digress. I began to think about another author, Thomas Moore. He wrote a wonderful book called Care of the Soul. Please don't think I'm pointing you to a new-age self help book. This read is a truly introspective journey pulling thought from some of the greatest thinkers in history. And Moore writes beautifully. Enough plugging, back to the point. To take a lesson from Moore's book, the damage has already been done. The people who have been screwed up by the "everyone gets a trophy" school of parenting are now adults. There's no fixing this by looking backwards. The real snare here is that it is so hard to break out of a reality that one has been conditioned to see. To go back to Elmore, these particular people don't just have a set of bad habits, they are psychologically and (dare I say it?!) spiritually damaged. This, however, isn't the territory of the psychologist. In my humble unprofessional opinion, psychologists real power is to help people who are sick, as a doctor would. To further this analogy, I don't need to see a cardiologist if I am out of breath after walking up a flight of steps. I need to get me ass to the gym, or hire a trainer. In this way, a psychologist can't help shift someone's worldview, particularly someone who is perfectly psychologically healthy. This is the realm of the philosopher or theologist. When you boil down pure ethical philosophy, it distills into the question, "What does it mean to be a complete person?" People will always struggle to be happy and find purpose until they ask that question. 

So what is the answer? The most popular answer is to get people to start raising their kids differently. Good luck with that. People receive parenting tips about as well as I receive a balloon from a clown. (Have I blogged about clowns yet? This seems a grievous oversight on my part.) Particularly when you tell people that they should take less care of their kids. And, as I used Moore to demonstrate earlier, we all have something that is a little messed up inside based on our childhood experiences. The answer then is to remove the plank from our own eye, before worrying about the splinter in our neighbor's. Let's ask the question, "Am I enabling others to grow and become their own full person, or am I enabling others to continue down the road of dependency and self-doubt?" or, "Am I myself avoiding the challenges in life, because mediocrity is safer?" or even, "Am I allowing someone else or something else to dictate who I am; or am I blaming that for keeping me from achieving happiness or fulfillment?" We are now coming into spring, a time of renewal and fresh beginnings. I don't know about you, but I am going to be setting some time aside this week to look into those questions.