Posted by: laughs4dads | June 4, 2010

Take Your Positive Attitude and Shove It

In an article in the May 30, 2010 edition of The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Judith Warner writes about Generation Y, also known as Millennials, Generation Me or, as I like to call them, “Kids Today.”

These are people born between 1982 and 2002 who have, according to the article, “…been depicted more recently by employers, professors and earnestly concerned mental-health experts as entitled whiners who have been spoiled by parents who overstoked their self-esteem, teachers who granted undeserved A’s and sports coaches who bestowed trophies on any player who showed up.”

Well, first, since the birth dates assigned to this generation include people who are currently eight years old, I think employers and professors ought to cut them some slack.

Second, as the parent of someone born during those years, I have to take offense. My daughter, Casey, earned every accolade she received, including her kick boxing trophy (won by getting hit illegally) and her highly coveted “girl who looks most like her dog” trophy.  (Both girl and dog, incidentally, are beautiful examples of their respective species.)

More recently, she has acquired a series of impressive awards from film festivals for her student film, Straight on Till Morning. These awards are made of crystal and are highly phallic, so you know they are important. They represent significant achievement because they are given only to those entrants whose films showed remarkable talent…and who ponied up $150 for the trophy.

Anyway, back to the article. It includes a quote by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a Clark University psychology professor: “Almost universally they want to find a job that’s not just a job but an expression of their identity, a form of self-fulfillment.” He adds that, although recent college graduates have been extremely successful at unemployment, “They’re extraordinarily optimistic that life will work out for them. Everybody thinks bright days are ahead and eventually they will find that terrific job.”

You get the feeling that he’s saying that as though it’s a bad thing. I mean, if you can’t be optimistic when you’re 23, when can you be? We all know it’s going to go downhill from there.

Yes, it’s true that this generation may have been particularly coddled by over-protective and over-achieving parents, and artificially pumped up with rosy outlooks by being congratulated when they simply attempted something, and given a sort of laid-back view of life by participating in all those various “winning-isn’t-important” sports leagues that kids can join.

So what? The article says “Not only do they believe these perfect jobs exist, but today’s recent graduates also think they’re good enough to get them.” Why shouldn’t they? After all, our very own president told us “Yes, we can,” so it must be true.

Ms. Warner also seems to have issues with the generation’s work ethic: “Yet despite the fact that the new graduates are in no position to pose conditions for employers, many are increasingly declaring themselves unwilling to work more than 40 hours a week.”

Here’s a news flash: 40 hours a week used to be normal. It was our generation that became neurotic workaholics, and I think it’s good that maybe we didn’t pass those tendencies onto our kids so that employers can mercilessly take advantage of them.

I mean, where did our work ethic get us? It’s our generation that’s getting laid off in record numbers…our generation whose jobs are getting outsourced to people who annoy me whenever I call tech support…our generation who now have our grown children still living at home.

Oh, right. There’s that.

Well, I, for one, like having my 24-year-old-daughter living at home. If she didn’t, I’d have to empty the dishwasher.

And this is the one time in life, before you begin acquiring responsibilities, when you can hold out for that perfect job.

The article finishes with an unexpected turn, suddenly praising Generation Me: “…with their seemingly inexhaustible well of positive self-regard, their refusal to have their horizons be defined by the limitations of our era, they just may bear witness to the precise sort of resilience that all parents, educators and pop psychologists now say they view as proof of a successful upbringing.”

So there you have it, all you parents of Generation Me. We did it! We were successful! Give yourselves a hearty congratulations.

As soon as I receive your check for $150, I’ll get your trophy right out to you.




  1. Nice Mark! I wonder if those professors read “Generation Me”…similar thoughts and ideas.

    Now only if you could get corporations to get used to the idea that 40 should be the norm not 60, it would be great =)

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