The “Yes” Generation
Self-help has made the “Selfie Generation” very uncomfortable with the word “No.” It has fueled the notion that every player gets a trophy, even if they did nothing more than pick their nose and play in the dirt the entire game. Kids approach adulthood expecting the world to offer an entire box of trophies and handouts. In some school systems, students no longer get letter grades, but merely “symbols” as an indicator of their performance. Symbols are not as discouraging as a C or D. Letter grades make students feel bad about themselves, and when they feel bad about themselves they will not be productive citizens. We are living in a generation of entitlement; “I deserve this even though I did nothing to earn it.”
Children assume that the entire world and everything under the sun has their initials monogramed on it -“Mine!”
Of course they assume the world revolves around them because their parents have spent a lifetime orbiting around them like they are the sun. The calendar is full of an exhausting list of activities in hopes of having an extraordinary child. The selfie generation expects the world to roll out the red carpet and they stand in utter shock when the paparazzi don’t show up.
The “selfie generation” desires to be noticed, valued, and praised. Constantly posing for approval of others, these individuals become accustomed to the lens focused in their direction.
Parents, we can fuel this attitude by always saying “yes” to our children.
Mary Poppins ticks me off because she has forever trapped me in the mentality that I have to continually entertain my children with a bag of fun. You know, I just reach down in my oversized carpet-bag and pull out something that will leave us all in amazement. There will be singing, dancing, flying around in the air, carousel rides, spoons full of sugar, and tap dancing with penguins. Then reality sets in, and I’m deeply disappointed. This is the real world, and somewhere along the way Mary Poppins, Pinterest, and my life just don’t work.
I think about the musical, The Chorus Line, and I grab some tap shoes as I sing to my children, “Let Me Entertain You!” Here is an I-Pad or another cartoon. Oh sure – a Pinterest art project that goes along with the season of summer. Of course. Why not? I feel inclined to be their personal magician, always pulling something out of my magical motherhood hat.
Scared of boredom, I run around looking for scissors and glue. My pits sweat and my guilt grows under the great expectations I have for myself as a mother. I am unsatisfied with anything less than dazzling, and I fear my children feel the same.
Why are we afraid of empty places? Blank canvases? A notebook without words?
If we are always creating, how are our children ever going to learn how to pick up a paintbrush and create something beautiful with their lives?
I am the worst enabler in this way. My three year old walked around the house all day yesterday saying, “Mommy play with me,” because he has no idea how to entertain himself.
My son’s first question when he would come home from school was, “Mommy, what fun are we going to do today?” Every. Single. Day. “Oh, good to see you to honey!” This question has since then been outlawed. Yep, it is banned from our household in its entirety. The. End. I am not your event planner or the fun-fairy; I am your mommy. Besides, I don’t even own a wand, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t be able to find it. It would most likely be hidden somewhere underneath the 3-month old chicken nuggets and hamburger buns in the back seat of the mini-van.
Nevertheless, one day it happened. I had filled my children’s day with bliss. Poolside popsicles, a trip to the park, Chick-Fil-A (need I say more), and to top it all off, I got out the art beads. Yes, the ones that would end up all over the floor. Then, 647 tiny-beads-on-the-floor later, my children had the audacity to stick out there bottom lip and say, “This is the worst day ever!” Excuse me, can we rewind? Did that really just come out of your mouth? Do you realize how blessed you are to have me as your mom…besides there are children in Africa who never get to play with beads and eat fried chicken! Instead of being full of thanks, they just wanted more.
Plagued with fatigue, I turn on the television and we turn off our minds. The desire to fill our boredom often stifles our creativity. Could it be that turning off the screen could turn on our imaginations and the ability to create? Could it be that saying “no,” could let our children walk into a bigger “yes?”
You know you are getting older when you start saying things like, “Remember the days when . . .” But seriously, I remember the days when I would play outside all day just getting lost in the woods and creating all kinds of imaginary worlds. Now my kids are like, “We don’t know what to do. This day is boring!” Our children need to learn the fun in boredom.
They are learning that they are entitled to being entertained – all the time. To them it seems great as they overdose on the Frozen movie, but it becomes a scary vice when they are older and become bored with their seemingly lame forms of entertainment.
Imagine the danger of always saying “yes.”
“Yes, you may have another snack even though you just ate 10 minutes ago. Yes, you can watch another show even though we haven’t moved from the television set in a week. Yes, we will throw you an extravagant birthday party with exotic zoo animals and diamond goodie bags. Yes, I will play with you even though I have to clean the house. Yes, you can text your friends the entire day. Yes, I will buy you boobs and a new nose for your graduation gift. Yes, we can spend money we don’t have on clothes you don’t need. Yes, I will drive you around to all 100 of your weekly activities and drive myself crazy because I am scared to death to have an ordinary child.”
This world is overdosing on YES and is in too much of a comatose to realize the severity of the dilemma we’re in.
In a Selfie Generation, the entire world revolves around us. We wrongly believe that as soon as we have a desire, it should immediately be gratified. For instance, our family loves to eat. If we had it our way, we would live in the kitchen (me included). But we need to say no so that our children can feel hunger pains once in their life. Perhaps delayed gratification is the way to true satisfaction. For the often spoiled American, hunger pains remind us that this world is not made to satisfy us. Those who feel entitled to the air they breathe will forfeit breathing deeply the fullness of joy. This era of entitlement chokes out thankfulness and leaves us gasping for life.
By saying “no” to pleasure now, in many ways we are learning to say “yes” to pleasures forever more. Sometimes in an attempt to give our children what they want, we are unable to give them what they need. Instead of filling their time, I want them to feel emptiness. If we are bloated with junk here on earth, how will we ever see our emptiness?
There are times we must say “No,” in order to point the next Generation to a Greater YES!
Empty spaces, blanks spaces, and quiet moments are times when our souls can feel a longing for something more. By learning to say no, we teach our children and ourselves that the fullness of life is not found in anything this world has to offer.