Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Who Raised the Snowflake Generation?

Who’s to blame?

As we watch college students melt down over an election, as we watch them regress to infantile states, as we watch them advertise their weakness in the media… we naturally want to know who we should blame for the debacle.

Megan Fox describes the emotional disaggregation of the snowflake generation:

There are 18-year-olds (in other words, grown-ass adults) curled up in the fetal position in collegiate safe spaces rocking and crying because their favorite candidate lost an election….

They're having cry-ins (which are supposed to be like sit-ins except lamer, with crying, coloring books, and lattes on hand to assuage the feelings of the perpetually offended).

Reasonably, Fox is not optimistic about America’s future. As she avers, these crybabies are not preparing themselves to compete against their Chinese counterparts. Foreigners are going to eat their lunch … and dinner.

For her part, Fox offers a thoroughly plausible hypothesis. She remarks that this generation of emotionally overwrought children was created by Baby Boomer parents.

In her words:

What have you done, parents? I'm speaking to the parents of the current college-aged child. What have you done? Was it the participation trophies? The helicoptering? Never letting them lose? I want to know so that I do not make the same mistake when raising my own young brood. Like most things the Boomers unleashed on the world, their millennial children are profoundly despicable, immature, entitled, privileged, volatile, ignorant brats intent on getting their way despite rules, laws, and the rights of others.

Are you proud yet, Boomers? Does your heart just sing with joy when you see your little Suzy marching around cities hurling invectives at people who disagree with her politically while spray-painting profanity on private property? Do you give her an extra cookie when she comes home to your basement each night for being such an impassioned little monster? You've raised a generation of incompetents who can't build anything, invent anything (except false narratives and accusations), hold jobs, write decent sentences, or hold debates beyond screaming, "you're racist!" at their opponents. Some of them are even trying to frame innocent people for hate crimes in the name of social justice. You did this, Mom and Dad.

Since I am not myself a Boomer, I have no problem blaming that generation. While accepting Fox’s opinion wholeheartedly, we should also ask ourselves who created the Boomers in the first place.

After all, the Baby Boomers were brought up by the Greatest Generation, the Generation that won World War II and had rebuilt America. How did it happen than this generation brought up children whose mantra was: Make love, not war. And who worshipped at the altar of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.

During the hectic 1960s and 1970s Americans were trying to figure out how the Greatest Generation begat the Baby Boomer countercultural warriors. Most often they indicted one person: Dr. Benjamin Spock.

You know Dr. Spock. No, not Mr. Spock. In 1946, at the onset of the Baby Boomer generation, Dr. Spock wrote a guide to bringing up children that sold tens of millions of copies. Many parents of the Baby Boomers followed it religiously. In some sense Dr. Spock stands in for all of the developmental psychologists who were writing manuals telling parents how best to bring up their children, but his book sold so many copies and was taken as gospel by so many parents that he deserves special mention and special opprobrium.

Just to keep things interesting, one notes, with some chagrin, that the genie who was inspiring Dr. Spock was none other than… Sigmund Freud. Whatever was going on in the mental health field, it was Dr. Spock who brought Freudian theory into the American family and American culture. He was certainly more influential than New York psychoanalysts.

Spock was selling some very innocent-sounding advice. He wanted parents to be loving and affectionate. He wanted them to allow their children to flourish, to manifest their creative individuality. He believed that love and affection should trump discipline, self-control and character building.

Writing on Linnea Crowther gives a taste of Spock:

Today, the basic tenets of Dr. Spock's child care philosophy might seem obvious to most parents. Hug your child. Tell her she's special and loved and unique. Feed him when he's hungry. Discipline with words, not corporal punishment. But in 1946, this was new. Parents had long been encouraged not to shower their children with affection as this would make them weak and unprepared for the world. Feeding and naps were to be done on a strict schedule, regardless of the baby's immediate needs. And a child who just got a mild spanking for an offense got off easy – physical punishment was the norm. Spock changed all that with his encouragement for parents to follow their instincts, be attentive to the baby's needs, and be generous with affection.

Give your child hugs. Tell her she’s special. Tell her that she is unique. To go from those precepts to the self-esteem movement—everyone gets a trophy— does not require very much of a leap. These principles have become so ingrained in our culture that we no longer question them. Who can question the virtue of hugging your child? Then again, indulging your child’s whims and spoiling your child are not really such good things to do.

It all sounds very good, but the real question, as Fox asks, is: what about the outcomes? Spock himself became defensive when he was accused of encouraging parents to bring up their children to be self-indulgent and self-centered. He insisted that he was not opposed to discipline.

And yet, the outcomes tell a different story. You cannot be all hugs and affection while at the same time imposing discipline on your child. You cannot make your child a unique individual and at the same time teach him or her how to be a functioning social being. Individuality and conformity do not easily mix. Baby Boomers were not disciplined. They were one of the most self-indulgent generations that we had seen… before the snowflake generation and the millennials descended on us.

The Spock method looks good. It sounds unobjectionable. But it, like Freudian psychoanalysis, is a stealth attempt to undermine and to transform a culture. Just as psychoanalytic treatment could never have survived on the basis of the poor clinical outcomes it produced, so too Dr. Spock’s advice could not have survived on the basis of what became of the Baby Boomer generation. And if we agree with Fox that the snowflake generation was produced by the Boomers, then real outcomes refute the claims that these developmental schemes could produce healthy and functional adults.

Nevertheless, everyone accepts these values unthinkingly. Everyone, that is, except for Tiger Mom Amy Chua who believed in rigorous discipline and who notably withheld affection from her daughters. God help us, but she even limited their playdates and fun time. One can measure the extent to which Dr. Spock’s ideas have infiltrated American culture by recalling the hue and cry that greeted Chua’s book. Large numbers of American parents rose up in fury at her techniques and methods. They did not and still do not care about the fact that Chua's daughters did not become snowflakes.

Note also that the Spock approach stood in strict opposition with the values that had won the war. Martial values and martial discipline were excluded by Spock. He emphasized allowing a child to develop his individuality. The military does not encourage recruits or soldiers to become self-actualized individuals. It does not give them hugs. In war and in the marketplace everyone does not get a trophy.

Spock offered a type of psy-ops that would be used to bring up a generation of children who would make love, not war, who would place pleasure before work, who would expect that other people would be attentive to their needs. Spock’s ideas produced a generation or perhaps two of young people who define their relationships with a plaintive wail: What about my needs?

If the Boomer generation was raised according to Dr. Spock, it makes perfectly good sense that they would have turned into counterculture revolutionaries. And it makes even better sense to see that they believe that the way they were raised is better than the strict, disciplined, hardscrabble alternative. Naturally, they would want to justify their own upbringing by visiting it on their children. After all, Tiger Moms produced World War II. The Spock technique produced Vietnam. The children of the Spock method became snowflakes. 

Clearly, Fox is correct. The Boomers got it wrong. They got it wrong because their parents got it wrong. Their parents got it wrong because they trusted in the expertise of a Freudian pediatrician who lured them into bringing up a generation that would care more for feeling good than for succeeding in worldly competition.

By now, the fallout of Spock’s subversive childrearing principles has infiltrated all levels of the culture. We see the consequences on today’s college campuses, just as we saw it on college campuses during the Vietnam Era.

Freud may be over. But, his influence remains. Ignore him at your peril.


Dennis said...

Ah Dr. Spock and the "Mary had a little lamb" theory of child rearing. "Leave them alone and they will come home wagging their tails behind them." Only real problem is that the Wolf will have his day. So a child totally unprepared for the real world.

Anonymous said...

From weed gen to snowflake gen.

Anonymous said...

8 yrs of Obama coverage by media created a culture of fawning non-critical consensus among the flakes.

Anonymous said...

"Nevertheless, everyone accepts these values unthinkingly. Everyone, that is, except for Tiger Mom Amy Chua who believed in rigorous discipline and who notably withheld affection from her daughters."

Her daughters are Obama-Hillary-supporting snowflakes with Trump-Derangement-Syndrome.

Sophia wrote hate-filled garbage about Romney in 2012.

She may study hard but her ideology is PC.

Chua is a status whore, and she raised her girls to be of the correct ideology that opens doors in elite institutions.

Anonymous said...

Greatest Generation did not choose to be noble. They didn't choose to grow up under the Depression and come of age during WWII.

With the economic boom, they turned to consumerism and materialism, the keeping up with the Joneses. This was the reality their kids grew up in.

Also, they failed to instill their kids with the story of their people and nation.
The only culture became pop culture as a result.
And the damn TV intruded into every room.

art.the.nerd said...

I'm 64, which puts me squarely in the Baby Boomer demographic. My kids are 40 to 34, with a 27 year old step son. Al are married with children and working.I accept no blame or responibility for the Snowflake Generation.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

For every bizarre snowflake story, there is some adult who said YES.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ares Olympus said...

For whatever its worth, the University of Toronto had its Free Speech "debate?/forum with naughty professor Jordan Peterson, trying to call out new laws that threaten to make free speech hate speech, if transgender people feel offended by the wrong pronouns. It was two women against one man. University of Toronto Free Speech Debate

Jordan's position basically is that free speech is necessary to work things out, and the PC-community seeks to silence dissenting positions is oppressive. He picked the transgender issue as just one of a dozen he might have picked.

I listened to the debate this morning, and see how it is easy to be confused what's real between the sides. The lawyer said hate speech would have very high standards, and using the wrong gender pronoun would never qualify, and its easy to want to believe her. However Jordan is right to point out his otherwise harmless amateur videos caused an internet storm and counter-protest against his un-PC opinions, like that 99+% of people have their biological gender identical to their self-image gender, and creating special words for the exceptions leads to unnecessary confusion.

And its easy to be confused what "real science" if "gender experts" start with a preconceived notion that gender is independent of sex, and then seek to prove that as a fact, to their peers of the same opinion. Or is that a strawman argument? But what do you do in science when everyone is trying to prove something and no one is trying to disprove it?

The debate seemed like a worthy effort, but still so easy for everyone to talk past each other, I can't imagine any opinions were changed in the effort.

On the other side, just like Trump attracts interest by the White Nationalists, Dr. Peterson would seem to attract a crowd of male antifeminists who want Jordan on their bandwagon, and feel validated by his attempts to stand up to gender-warriors, and risk also enabling their willingness to bully transgender people, which is why the attempted antidiscrimination laws are being considered.

Jordan's overall position seems sound - if someone dresses up like a male uses a male sounding name, reference them as he/his/him, and let him use the mens' room for God's sake, because anything else would just confusing things more. But if you demand he use a fake pronoun he doesn't believe in, he'll refuse, and that's where his free speech comes in, the right to dissent against nonsense.

Shaun F said...

The exclusion of Martial values martial and discipline is interesting - as I would think these are significant factors that influence how a child's mind is shaped.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Spock’s ideas produced a generation or perhaps two of young people who define their relationships with a plaintive wail: What about my needs?

It is so easy to mock people, trying to humiliate them into waking up into the real world, like calling them the "snowflake" generation, the term first existing because every snowflake is considered unique, and secondly a snowflake is fragile and easily damaged, which isn't a good stance against a hostile world.

I wonder how the last generation of single-child chinese compare, being an only child, you can imagine they're coddled, but once they find out they're just one of a hundred million single children, all competing for an ever smaller window of opportunity of university and a professional life, so they must learn quick, and possibly learn to be brutal in their competition, to get ahead.

American children, however many in a family, don't have that problem, although more than little snowflakes, what scares me is the neglected children of divorced parents and basically on their own 23 hours per day, with no guidance except the TV, video games, and the internet. And ADHD would seem more of a problem, having so much simulation that ordinary things like homework seem like a drag.

But somehow its easier to get hysterical merely about students who want to protest the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States as if getting off their butts and talking to their neighbors was proof of their degeneracy and moral failing.

Oh well, I'm sure some of them can still be humiliated and they'll back down from their premature uppitiness that wants to know what the hell is going on. No, asking questions like that is reserved for 70-year old boys who aspire to be president.

Dennis said...

art.the.nerd said,

Just as most people in any group are not monolithic it is true of the 60's generation. Far too many of the men who died in the Viet Nam War were from the 60's generation to place a blanket condemnation on anyone. I would have been happier if the "greatest generation" had more sympathy for men who had to fight a war with so many ROE's. I am a little older so not part of that generation. My youngest is 50 years old.
Though I would agree with Stuart's comments on the opinion leaders in that generation who did untold, and still do, damage to the culture of the country. There was a time when I thought otherwise.
I suspect that one needs to look more towards peer group and the types of adult guidance involved. Primary groups, in many ways, lost leadership to secondary groups thereby leaving many rudderless and no real adult in which to emulate. The growth of feminism did much to destroy the relationships that would have proven to act as a "lighthouse" in a fog of confusion as to concepts like personal responsibility and the ability to understand how to face the travails of life.
There is a part of me that feels pity for a group who is being made into emotional cripples by demagogues who want to use them for their own benefit. As sad as this is maybe "useful idiot" does apply. If one is going to make slaves to the state/liberal plantation of minorities then it isn't difficult to include snowflakes.

sestamibi said...

art.the.nerd is quite correct, and I think you need to do some math, Stuart. The current generation of snowflakes is the chiefly spawn of Baby Busters (1965-76), and a few tail end Boomers who delayed having kids until almost impossible.

However, I do agree with your use of female pronouns referring to these snowflakes, and as I've said before, the rise of this sort of thing has paralleled that of women in academia. It is no surprise that you get these reactions when 60% of our college students are female.

Trigger Warning said...

"The Spock method looks good. It sounds unobjectionable. But it, like Freudian psychoanalysis, is a stealth attempt to undermine and to transform a culture."

In addition to being a Freudian, Spock was an admirer of materialist and socialist John Dewey, and he was a wealthy socialist himself. Socialists are generally wrong about everything because their axiomatic principles about human nature are wrong.

Spock should have been shunned.

Shaun F said...

Trigger Warning - Ah...that provides some significant background information, which makes sense. Dr. Spock's well was poison(ed) from the beginning.

Trigger Warning said...

I'm not sure why more people don't listen you you, Ares. I know, at first blush, your comments sound like vacuous, voluble gabbling... But a second look... confirms the first.

"the "snowflake" generation, the term first existing because every snowflake is considered unique, and secondly a snowflake is fragile and easily damaged..."

Duh. Thanks for the penetrating analysis. :-D

AesopFan said...

I was born in 1952 and definitely not raised to be a Snowflake.

Dr. Spock made the mistake of emphasizing only one side, while the Tiger Moms emphasize only the opposite. Neither extreme is a wholesome way to raise children.

We had 5 kids (born 1977-1986), and I can attest that it is entirely possible to hug your kids, feed them on demand (as infants), rock them when they cry, tell them they are special, and STILL give them the discipline and correction they need to understand how to live responsibly and productively without becoming soulless "cogs" -- individuality (knowing one's own talents and values) and conformity (to the societal norms that make civilized living possible) actually can co-exist.

JK Brown said...

This on the psychological impact of bureaucratization seems to apply today, and perhaps to the protest portion of the Boomers.

But it is quite a different thing under the rising tide of bureaucratization. Government jobs offer no opportunity for the display of personal talents and gifts. Regimentation spells the doom of initiative. The young man has no illusions about his future. He knows what is in store for him. He will get a job with one of the innumerable bureaus, he will be but a cog in a huge machine the working of which is more or less mechanical. The routine of a bureaucratic technique will cripple his mind and tie his hands. He will enjoy security. But this security will be rather of the kind that the convict enjoys within the prison walls. He will never be free to make decisions and to shape his own fate. He will forever be a man taken care of by other people. He will never be a real man relying on his own strength. He shudders at the sight of the huge office buildings in which he will bury himself.

In the decade preceding the First World War Germany, the country most advanced on the path toward bureaucratic regimentation, witnessed the appearance of a phenomenon hitherto unheard of: the youth movement. Turbulent gangs of untidy boys and girls roamed the country, making much noise and shirking their school lessons. In bombastic words they announced the gospel of a golden age. All preceding generations, they emphasized, were simply idiotic; their incapacity has converted the earth into a hell. But the rising generation is no longer willing to endure gerontocracy, the supremacy of impotent and imbecile senility. Henceforth the brilliant youths will rule. They will destroy everything that is old and useless, they will reject all that was dear to their parents, they will substitute new real and substantial values and ideologies for the antiquated and false ones of capitalist and bourgeois civilization, and they will build a new society of giants and supermen.

The inflated verbiage of these adolescents was only a poor disguise for their lack of any ideas and of any definite program. They had nothing to say but this: We are young and therefore chosen; we are ingenious because we are young; we are the carriers of the future; we are the deadly foes of the rotten bourgeois and Philistines. And if somebody was not afraid to ask them what their plans were, they knew only one answer: Our leaders will solve all problems.

It has always been the task of the new generation to provoke changes. But the characteristic feature of the youth movement was that they had neither new ideas nor plans. They called their action the youth movement precisely because they lacked any program which they could use to give a name to their endeavors. In fact they espoused entirely the program of their parents. They did not oppose the trend toward government omnipotence and bureaucratization. Their revolutionary radicalism was nothing but the impudence of the years between boyhood and manhood; it was a phenomenon of a protracted puberty. It was void of any ideological content.

The chiefs of the youth movement were mentally unbalanced neurotics. Many of them were affected by a morbid sexuality, they were either profligate or homosexual. None of them excelled in any field of activity or contributed anything to human progress. Their names are long since forgotten; the only trace they left were some books and poems preaching sexual perversity. But the bulk of their followers were quite different. They had one aim only: to get a job as soon as possible with the government. Those who were not killed in the wars and revolutions are today pedantic and timid bureaucrats in the innumerable offices of the German Zwangswirtschaft. They are obedient and faithful slaves of Hitler. But they will be no less obedient and faithful handy men of Hitler’s successor, whether he is a German nationalist or a puppet of Stalin.

von Mises, Ludwig (1945). Bureaucracy

Dennis said...

JK Brown,

Would agree with most of von Mises from personal experience working for an R&D program that developed automated information systems for the military. Spent a lot of time going to DC as a technical, and I hate this word, expert and doing contract requirements. I could spend hours trying to find a person who would make a decision. Sadly, many of these people move from one agency to another to move up the ladder. They knew the bureaucracy, but lacked the technical understanding required. Maybe that is why many of them liked Obama. The fear that one notices in DC gives meaning to CYA and the acceptance of the actions, or lack thereof, of snowflakes. I remember a contract specialist we were working with for a follow on contract stating that "she deserved a 13 because she was a single mother." I almost fell on the floor.
Don't get me wrong, but I met and worked with some very qualified individuals who understood their role as civil servants working for the concerns of their employer the American people and the end user at the "end of the spear." Like other groups federal workers are NOT a monolithic group. Having audited both government and civilian businesses they both have their bureaucracies and problems.

Recruiting Animal said...

According to this posting the boomers were raised to put pleasure before work. But if you read some of the millennial garbage put out in the last few years, they are complaining that their boomer parents are just work-oriented.

These stereotypes are obviously quite shallow. Also, the baby-boomer generation that was reported on in the news was a small fraction of the mass of people of that age. Just as the millennials we read about are often just a sliver of the general millennial population.

Likewise the Greatest Generation moniker is pure nonsense. I read that therapy groups were created to provide mass psychological aid to the many draftees during WW2 who were found to have psychological problems.

Gunther Plaut, a chaplain in the US Army said that most Ameridcan soldiers didn't know why the US was fighting in World War Two even as they entered Germany.

David Gross, in Killology, said that in World War Two lots of people never really shot at anyone. That had to be deliberately trained into the soldiers of a later generation. So much for claims about the martial culture of our immediate ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I am 59, mairried for 38 years now to my ONLY wife, my boys are 36 and 34, both married to their only wife's and both have kids. Both Professionals, both tax payers, both voted for Trump.

Anonymous said...

In a moment of familiarity I once chided my mother that society's ills could be traced back to her "greatest generation".
I got an immediate finger waggling at me with the clear admonition, "listen here; my generation was the last generation that could die from a simple flu, or die in child birth, or die from a simple scratch. We lived through that horror and didn't want you kids to have to live with those problems. So we embraced each and every technological advance that came along".
God bless my mom. She's been gone for 5 years; yet I still remember those clear and concise words. Even though she didn't embrace that Spock fellas nonsense; she still showered us with love, tough love.

Anonymous said...

Every generation had its day of political opposition. Your parents' generation looked at yours the same way, it's a natural cycle. The difference? Your generation wasn't yet under the crushing pressures of predatory student debt. Your generation wasn't graduating college to enter a job market where five years of experience in the field are expected for an entry level, or sometimes just for an unpaid or minimally compensated internship. Yes, that's happening, I lived it and I watched my peers live it. Your generation didn't enter a challenging housing market further complicated by aforementioned student debts. Today's median home prices are nearly twice what they were $50 years ago, and yes, that's considering real dollar value. It's not a situation that can be chalked up to wholesale irresponsibility or bad upbringing, there is measurable data everywhere supporting the notion that education and home ownership is sailing upwards in cost.

darlene said...

Well said