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Thoughts on the culture of individualism and entitlement...

Dave and I had quite the heated debate (perhaps it was more of an argument) over and article published in The Age this morning, titled, "Happiness a casualty of meeting demands of me, myself and I" (and let's not even start on the poor grammar of that title in The Age, for shame!!!)...

For those of you who can't be bothered reading the link, in brief (very brief, much better to just read the article than my paraphrasing of it, because, well I'm going to be very subjective here)... A couple of studies have found that women, moreso than men, are less happy with their lives these days than they were 50 years ago, or even 15 years ago. After a bit of tumbling through speculation as to the whys and wherefores of this new low in the benchmark of happiness, the article pretty much ends up blaming our culture of individualism and entitlement for it. That is to say, parents (because parents have the strongest influence on culture) have become so obsessed with conveying a strong sense of the individual and of entitlement in their kids, that the kids have grown up to be disillusioned when lives doesn't end up meeting their rather high expectations of having it all and being super-extra-special in their own right...

I LOVE what this article has to say, many of you won't.

Dave can see that our own children have a strong sense of entitlement, but he can't see how we (I'd like to think HE) has encouraged that...

I fight against this culture daily. It completely sickens me. I travel around on parenting forums and blogs a lot and see a lot of "My child NEEDS his or her own room, his or her own computer, his or her own mobile phone"... My child has a RIGHT to privacy, to respect, to "a say"... If my child doesn't WANT TO, then who am I to make him or her *insert verb phrase*...

Yes, I am an attachment parent. No, I'm am NOT denouncing attachment parenting, I completely and WHOLLY support the tenants of attachment parenting. I just don't agree with some parents interpretation of attachment parenting as "do whatever your child wants to do, because your child is the most important person in the relationship"...

My children here it often and loud from me, "You are important, but you are NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYONE ELSE, everyone is equally important." That is no matter their age, or social status.

I guess I'm a socialist. I believe the community is more important than the individual. That doesn't mean I'm a democrat, though. I don't believe in majority rules, because democracy only really works in discrete situations, not as a long term strategy. Logical and commonsense must prevail...

So, Dave and I argued. Mainly over the toy situation, again. I hear you all heavy a sigh and thinking, not that again!.. But, yes, that again. I believe toys should be communal excepting a few items which are special to the individual. Dave believes more in the "you recieved it, it's yours forever and ever until you no longer want it" policy. I KNOW a few of you have differing opinions to me on this, but no matter how I look at it, it always comes back to this... Our family is a community that shares pooled resources. Those resources aren't huge, but even if they were... It is ridiculous that money needs to be spent TWICE on every item just so each person can have their own, because the money would be far better used expanding the variety and everyone learned to share and co-operate.

I don't see that as dimishing my children's experience AT ALL, and well, according to this article and the studies it refers to (but neglects to reference), it might actually set them up to be happier in the long term because their expectations won't be our of sync with the reality that we just CAN''T have it all, and when our society bought those magic beans from the old guy at the side of the road, it didn't lead to a beanstalk of endless riches...

Addendum! I love that the article points out that narcissistic people (aka, people with an expanded sense of self-worth) are MORE likely to engage in risky behaviour... Perhaps because they have an inflated sense of what they can handle???

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