Q: Are children today more spoiled than we were?
Spoiled children have been in literature, the news, and our collective consciousness much longer than we remember. At least that’s what Alfie Kohn, the author of The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Coddled Kids, Helicopter Parents, and Other Phony Crises is attempting to prove.
A lot is said today about the way that parents “coddle” their children or are overly permissive with them. Psychologists and journalists argue that in this new age of parenting, we are producing entitled and spoiled children. Kohn argues that the newness of this phenomenon and the idea that parents create it through permissiveness is a misconception.
Kohn points out that in January 1950 Parents magazine ran an article entitled “When and How to Say No” that condemned parents for being “unable to take the responsibility for being grown up and making decisions.” Later in 1963, Martha Weinman Lear published a book entitled, The Child Worshippers, and made the bold statement, “We are living, like it or not… in a child-centered society.” She went so far to say that it became a “national epidemic.”
So, why Kohn asked, when Newsweek published an article a few years ago asking the question, “Are We Living in a Child-Centered World?” were we made to think that this was a 21st century parenting singularity? Perhaps because the focus of parenting has changed, but that still doesn’t mean there weren’t spoiled children than 50 years ago too!