An anthropologist conducted a study comparing family life in the Amazon to family life in Los Angeles. In the Amazon, she traveled with a family upriver to harvest leaves. A 6-year-old girl from another family asked if she could accompany them. Permission was granted. On the trip, the girl gave herself chores such as sweeping, cleaning mats and catching crustaceans in the river. The girl did not ask for anything.
Compare that to a study of 32 Los Angeles families who agreed to have a camera in their homes to film family life. In one family, an 8-year-old was told to take a shower. After the father made five requests for the son to take a shower, the father carried him to the bathroom and again told him to take a shower. He did not.
Time and again, researchers found homes where children were controlling everybody else's behavior.
"This is not a good thing," said Dr. Pat Love, while speaking at the National Association for Relationship and Marriage Education's annual conference.
"Ninety percent of young people say they plan to marry, yet ... they are not learning [how to be] great marriage material. Behavior that seems cute at 3 doesn't look so good at 12 or 20 years of age. Children should not be running the home. When a child's needs take precedence over everything else, this develops narcissistic behavior."
Do you remember when only the winning team came home with a trophy? Now even the losing team gets one.
"Young people argue with their college professor that they should get a B in class just for showing up," said Love. "Two-thirds of college students believe if they go to their professor and say they are trying, they ought to get a better grade.
"Research indicates that 75 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds don't qualify to serve in the military because they either didn't graduate from high school, are in trouble with the law, are in financial difficulty or can't meet the physical fitness requirements."
This is problematic because these assets are necessary for a healthy marriage. Young people are not focused on what they can do for others; it is all about what others can do for them. This is extremely problematic for the future of our children and our society. We have raised young people to be entitled/narcissistic.
Even though they say they want to marry, self-centeredness sabotages their chances of being successful. Being in a family unit that has clear parent/child boundaries and roles sets a child up for success and makes the marriage more satisfying for adults.
Remember, rank has its privileges. Families, just like companies, need a good leader for direction and sustainability. When children are constantly served and made the center of the family universe, you are doing them a huge disservice and setting them up for failure in the future. Kids need to be kids, and adults need to act like adults.
Email Julie Baumgardner at firstname.lastname@example.org.