How To Ruin A Child – More On GenMe

How to ruin a child: Too much esteem, too little sleep

As we’ve been seeing, GenMe has great self-esteem.  They feel great about themselves.  Why not?  They’ve been told their entire lives they are special…no matter what. George Will has an excellent article about child rearing, self-esteem, and the benefits of sleep.  Here are  some sample quotes:

…the theory that praise, self-esteem and accomplishment increase in tandem is false. Children incessantly praised for their intelligence (often by parents who are really praising themselves) often underrate the importance of effort. Children who open their lunchboxes and find mothers’ handwritten notes telling them how amazingly bright they are tend to falter when they encounter academic difficulties. Also, Bronson and Merryman say that overpraised children are prone to cheating because they have not developed strategies for coping with failure.

“We put our children in high-pressure environments,” Bronson and Merryman write, “seeking out the best schools we can find, then we use the constant praise to soften the intensity of those environments.” But children excessively praised for their intelligence become risk-adverse in order to preserve their reputations. Instead, Bronson and Merryman say, praise effort (“I like how you keep trying”): It is a variable children can control.

“…perhaps the soundest advice for parents is: Lighten up. People have been raising children for approximately as long as there have been people. Only recently — about five minutes ago, relative to the long-running human comedy — have parents been driving themselves to distraction by taking too seriously the idea that “as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.” Twigs are not limitlessly bendable; trees will be what they will be.”

The Narcissism Epidemic, Living in the Age of Entitlement by Dr. Jean M. Twenge [GenerationMe] and W. Keith Campbell.

From the Introduction:

American culture’s focus on self-admiration has caused a flight from reality to the land of grandiose fantasy. We have phony rich people (with interest-only mortgages and piles of debt), phony beauty (with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures), phony athletes (with performance-enhancing drugs), phony celebrities (via reality TV and YouTube), phony genius students (with grade inflation), a phony national economy (with 11 trillion dollars of government debt), phony feelings of being special among children (with parenting and education focused on self-esteem), and phony friends (with the social networking explosion). All this fantasy might feel good, but, unfortunately, reality always wins.

Generation Me Chapter 13 – Relationship Troubles – The Chocolate Cake Trap

…had you eaten the broccoli, it would have been a much different story. You wouldn’t have gotten the big rush at the beginning, but it would have been okay – broccoli isn’t that bad. Twenty minutes later you would have felt good, healthy, positive about your eating choices and there would have been no sugar crash. You would sit at your desk and work rather than wanting to crawl under it and listen to an old Pink Floyd album. The bottom line is that broccoli is the better choice. . . . and the next time you are given the choice you will still eat the chocolate cake.

This same pattern holds in many relationships with narcissists. There is a rush of excitement in starting a relationship with an exciting and charismatic figure. You feel flattered that the narcissist is paying attention to you and bringing you into his or her life. You feel pretty special, too, because the narcissist shines brightly in social situations.

Narcissists save the bad stuff for later in the relationships. Your fiancé tells you that your best friend can’t be in the wedding because she is too fat and will ruin the pictures. Your wife racks up an enormous credit card bill paying for her plastic surgery, and then runs away with the plastic surgeon. The seemingly “fun and cool boss” steals your ideas and gets you transferred. A co-worker starts sabotaging your performance and you’re fired.

Narcissists may seem like a tasty treat [chocolate cake] when you first meet them, but they are not. Narcissism is absolutely corrosive to social relationships.

John Piper gives some interesting questions to ponder:

  • Do you want heaven to be a hall of mirrors? Or would you like for all mirrors to be gone and you to be able to behold God in all his glory forever? Do you go to the Grand Canyon to admire yourself?
  • Do I want to be strong like Christ, so I will be admired as strong, or so that I can defeat every adversary that would entice me to settle for any pleasure less than admiring the strongest person in the universe, Christ?
  • Do I want to be wise like Christ, so I will be admired as wise and intelligent, or so that I can discern and admire the One who is most truly wise?
  • Do I want to be holy like Christ, so that I can be admired as holy, or so that I can be free from all unholy inhibitions that keep me from seeing and savoring the holiness of Christ?
  • Do I want to be loving like Christ, so that I will be admired as a loving person, or so that I will enjoy extending to others, even in sufferings, the all-satisfying love of Christ?

Oh God.  You are glorious.  The greatest pleasures in the universe do not come from making much of ourselves but in making much of You.  Your glorious image in us was marred by the Fall, yet we continue to make much of the tragic wreckage.  Yet your perfect image bearer, Jesus, was marred and made a wreck, that your image might be restored in us.  Help us to learn the mystery that beholding His glory, and not our own, transforms us from one degree of glory to another.

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