STFU Parents: Parents Who Are Raising Special Snowflakes And Future Narcissists
According to the entire internet, as a result of a single Dutch study parents are turning their kids into raging narcissists by consistently doling out lavish praise simply for existing. Who knew, right?? Haha, just kidding. We all knew, which is why a study like that goes viral in zero to 60 seconds flat. People love having their suspicions justified, and nothing elicits a hearty “I told you so!” more than a study confirming that today’s children are raised to be entitled and focused on personal gain rather than the greater good. I’m guessing next week’s viral sensation will involve a study claiming that kids who stare at screens for 23 hours a day are antisocial jerks who can’t fold their own underwear. It’ll be a huge surprise!
Special Snowflake Syndrome is a subject I’ve given a lot of thought and dedicated many words to over the years. Social media dynamics play a big role in how parents present their children to the online world and contribute to parents’ expectations of both their children and themselves. Particularly in capitalist countries, where financial success and competitiveness are often touted as two of the most important characteristics a person should have, it can be tough to eschew keeping up with the Jones’s – especially if the Jones’s are only posting the absolute best aspects of their children’s developmental “successes” online. Barf.
How can parents NOT expect their kids to compete with their friends’ kids when every single achievement is posted on Facebook? For some people, it takes self-discipline to avoid posting pictures of report cards. Rather than treat their kids as typical humans who are going to fail and succeed in varying areas of study and social development, those parents are determined to drill into their child that they’re capable of greatness, and not just being great, but being the greatest. From the time their kids are born, parents wildly clap their hands when babies exceed their expectations in any way, and frown when they appear to be “falling behind.” Positive reinforcement gets blown way out of proportion, and kids are taught that they matter, they deserve to be appreciated, and they’re the best at something, even if it’s just tying their shoes. If a baby rolls over a little early, that means she’s going to be a world renowned cardiologist after graduating from Harvard Medical School. If she walks at ten months, she’s going to be an Olympic figure skater. By the time a toddler turns two, everyone’s favorite word to hate – gifted – gets trotted out every time the child says “please” and “thank you” or expresses an opinion. Kids think they deserve constant adulation just for being polite and learning their ABCs.
By holding children up like Simba and bragging that they’re the smartest, quickest to adapt, and ahead of every curve, parents do their kids a massive disservice. This can be seen in just about every scenario in real life, but online, it’s especially annoying. Bragging about your kid eating a burrito in record time can be okay, but bragging about your kid counting higher, faster, and in more languages than any other kid is pretty odious. Creativity and individuality are ruled out in favor of superlatives, as if those things actually make a difference down the road. Usually, they don’t. When kids grow up to discover this tragic reality, they can’t make sense of it. Why doesn’t the world bend to their every whim? Why can’t they customize everything to suit their desires? Where are the stainless steel refrigerators and $250K salaries?