Adult Children Are So Self-centered, Rude and Uncaring--what Happened?

Updated on June 29, 2010
T.B. asks from Cave Creek, AZ
9 answers

Maybe it's just where I live (AZ) versus where I grew up Southern (VA). The children starting as teenagers into adulthood are just terrible, so materialistic and self-centered. Is it like this everywhere? I did give freely but I didn't overly spoil them. Still they have this huge sense of entitlement.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for all the great answers. Jane you mentioning that study on the brain was good. I had heard that was coming. I hope this doesn't shut down the thread. I learned a lot but I primarily confirmed my own thoughts and that pop culture has had too much influence on the X generation. I wish we still just had Saturday Cartoon days and TV shut off at 10:00 PM each night! Thanks everyone.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Its def the generation. Im in CA. My brother is 16 and you should have seen his Christmas list, Ipod, video camera...I laughed!!! They dont understand what it is to work and earn things. Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

I'm a high school teacher, and people ask me all the time how I can stand to work with teenagers. Here's the thing: I _like_ to work with teenagers. Of course some of them are "terrible, materialistic and self-centered" but you know what? So are _lots_ of adults. Just take a look around this site at all of the people talking about their self-centered mothers, fathers, in-laws, etc. Being overly self-involved with no sense of perspective was not born of this generation.

What I find much much more commonly is that teenagers want to do the right thing. Oftentimes they have lots working against them. There's of course the social pressures that lots of people mention. But also there's a lot of research that's come out that suggests that the frontal lobe of the brain (where impulse control and decision making happens) isn't fully developed until around age 25. That means that teenagers are much more able than adults to learn lots of new stuff, but much less able to have "common sense." Its frustrating, but it's frustrating the same way that a 5 year old has no sense of how long an hour is - they just developmentally can't do it. Finally, lots of teenagers have parents who think that they're parenting but aren't. I'm not saying that this is you. However, its not the kids' fault if the parent never set boundaries or taught manners. Or had totally unrealistic expectations of their child and doomed the parents for a terrible long-term relationship with their child. And believe me, I've sat in enough parent meetings to know that there are lots and lots of really crappy parents out there.

I think that the best thing that we can do as adults is deal with each child, whatever the age, as individuals. We find out what they are good at and help them grow from there. But if we give up because teenagers are frustrating as hell (and they are, even though they can be a great deal of fun) then we're not really doing our jobs, are we?

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answers from Portland on

No, it's not like that everywhere. Probably not even everywhere in your town. Whose children are you speaking of? Yours? Your neighbors'?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I see some of that--but I see it in every age category there is. Let's not forget about all of the "adults" who bought giant homes and then discovered they couldn't afford them or the stuff they had in them.

What I also see is lots of young adults that are very dedicated to their goals and ideals. For example, my nephew turned down many job offers out of college b/c he didn't agree with the environmental/ and political policies and practices of the companies. Idealistic? Yes. A bad thing? Not necessarily. He started his own small business where he can control his global footprint, impact on the environment, etc. he's doing well and he can sleep at night.
This is a completely different world than the one in which I grew up. (I'm 46.) Technology changes everything. There are jobs with virtual offices, no offices, virtual assistants, etc. This is not our parent's world.

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answers from Austin on

You are the parent you set the tone.

Our daughter and her friends are not like this, because a as a group of parents, we taught them. You want that? Great start saving for it.

We also made sure they have ways of making money. They are very clever about coming up with money making ideas.

Our children have been doing community service since kindergarten. this was part of the "Character Counts Program" in our neighborhood elementary..

Now do not get me wrong, when they slip and act entitled, we ask them if they think they deserve something and why.. We have honest conversations about our expectations and what our financial situations are.

We can all sit back and talk about how bad this generation is, but we do not have to have our children be a part of it. I see more good from this group of kids than I do from many of their parents..

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answers from Phoenix on

Oh my goodness I have the same stuff going on at my house. I have a 15 year old girl. I was a single mom for 8 years of her life and I worked hard to make life easier for her. I guess I did to much and now she expects everything to be handed to her. Yes we live in AZ and Im married now and we have a 5 year old which is learning from her big sister. My 15 year old is so lazy and uncaring. I could cry about it, how did she get so self-centered and materialistic? I shop for my close at Target and she shops at Holister or Tilleys. She badgers me like crazy to get what she wants...HELP I will read your answers to find out what people think,Thanks and good luck. C.



answers from Tulsa on

its everywhere and they will eventually get a reality check and don't bail them out when they do. :) mine was 19 when he got his and felt so blessed by me. maybe yours will learn soon to. good luck



answers from Sacramento on

Yes, this is Generation Y. They're entering the workforce with a sense that they don't have to work as hard as previous generations (and I'm Generation X, so I'm not THAT old when I say this) -- they want to skip rungs on the career ladder. Unfortunately, while we like to think we shape our children, so much depends on their friends and environment. I've known adult children of school superintendents and teachers that end up a mess because of their own poor decisions. I'm hoping my children's generation (still to be named) is nothing like Gen Y.



answers from Sacramento on

I am so glad to see your post, I feel the very same way, but wonder if others do too. Sadly the charateristics you mentioned are prevalent in much of today's society partially I feel a big place for blame is the media, TV, sports and entertainment and film industries but parenting too. Our world has gotten away from teaching good morals, values and character education (many things we learn at church or taught in Sunday school or bible study) to young children through young adulthood. Sport superstars, TV, film and music entertainers are this generations "heros" now, not regular hard working people and volunteers and those who have done so much good for others and society who are not in it for the notariety. I live in a fairly affluent area and this astounds me each day. I see greed, sense of entitlement and instant gratification in today's society along with young people not valuing a strong work ethic to get what they want in this world. I work amlost FT and volunteer regularly and am encouraging my teen to do the same and work then save up to get the things she wants over time, but she has many friends who are handed everything to them as a child and teenager so this is hard to teach her. She is a great kid, but I can see glimpses of this in her too. Monthly, I voluteer and try to encourage and promote helping other and giving bk to the community, but again it is so ahrd to instill this in her and her friends ( and we are pretty regular chuch goers and she attends a church youth group where she learns the importance of serving others). I think the advances in technology will only hurt our society going forward in this way with our I-phones, I pads, computers and and all of the social networking thru new electric gadgets sucking away our time and values. Not sure what the answer is other than continue to promote it regularly at home, at schools through encouaging character education of young people and thru church whenever we can. I am interested in hearing your other responses.