Friday, September 28, 2007

College Life

I’m Special, Are You?
By Gunes Atalay

“You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

Tyler Durden's quote in the movie Fight Club doesn't sound very nice does it? How would you feel about telling that to your children? Most parents today believe in giving everything they can to their kids, and letting them know how precious they are. It seems like a good idea, to give kids some self-confidence and self-respect. However, this was completely opposite years ago. Most parents believed in making their kids think they were not “that” special. That sounds very cruel doesn't it? However many people think this way of change in parenting wasn't a good idea at all.

Donna White, 45, the mother of a 19 year-old college student answered immediately with a loud, “Hell no. Today's kids are already spoiled with everything they have, and that is already a problem,” she said. “I never repeated that sentence (You are special) to my daughter. I showed her my trust in other ways, and that is enough for her self confidence.”

White’s friend, Cassandra Sales, 37, mother of a 14 year-old girl, said, “I did that make mistake. She is the most important thing in my life. I kept letting her know about this, and I always told her how special she is. Now when I look at her, I see a narcissistic little teenager. It makes me feel kind of guilty. But my parents never told me I am special, they never showed their love in words, and I always craved it. So doing the opposite with my own daughter felt like the right thing to do.”

After hearing from mothers, what do young people think about whether they were pampered? Augusto Ferrer, 23, a recent college graduate, said, “It depends on the child, however it definitely doesn't seem like a good idea to me. It makes them egocentric.” When asked how he was raised, Ferrer said, “I am narcissistic because of my parents. And also level headed.” He continued, “And I am surprisingly not confident at all. I think the way they kept spoiling me, and telling me I am unique and special made me narcissistic. However, I didn't do anything on my own to make myself feel special. I guess I couldn't fool myself only with words. I feel like I need to accomplish something that will satisfy me, to be able to move to self confidence from narcissism.”

Samantha Dufault, an 18 year-old college freshman, laughed at the question of whether parents are making their children feel special. “People have to live black or white nowadays. Either treat your children like they are the most valuable people on earth, or treat them like they are nothing,” she said. “Why can't they find a way in middle? One of them makes children feel like they are the king of the world, and they really are not, the other one makes them hate themselves the rest of their life. I believe my parents did the best thing. They told me I am special all the time, but they didn't complete their sentence there. They always said I was very special, but so was the rest of the human beings. I always had self-confidence, but I also respect other people. Because I know, they are as special as I am.”

Dufault’s answer may be a solution to this problem of coddling children too much. However, who knows what is the best way to raise children? They don't come with manuals, do they?

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