Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's Not Fair! The Age of Entitlement

Working at a radio station, I've been a part of many on air contests and promotions that give away desirable prizes, but none gain quite the attention--good and bad, as a contest the gives away a prize that kids or teens want to win, or worse, that a parent wants their kids to have.

I'm a mom. So I totally get wanting to get that gift that your kid is totally into. I went through the phases of beanie babies, the more expensive American Girl dolls, the less expensive giga pets and pogs (anyone remember those?) Like most parents, we did our best to get our girls the things they wanted, within reason. And they were blessed to have aunts and uncles and grandparents who could help get some gifts we couldn't or wouldn't spend money on.

But I've always been amazed and frustrated by the stories like the cabbage patch craze that went on before I had kids, where parents fought in the aisles over the last remaining doll in the pack. They HAD to get their child what he or she wanted.

I've continued to watch as the years go by stories of parents screaming from the stands in little league, soccer or football games. Making demands on coaches, cussing out umpires, claiming over and over again "it's not fair!".

And then comes Taylor Swift. Radio stations like ours attempt to find every way possible to give away tickets on the air, on location, online in ways that everyone can participate. One recent contest involved an online vote for Taylor's Biggest Fan. While the majority of participants had fun with the contest, there were a select and vocal few that showcase what I feel is a terrible sense of entitlement we are guilty of having for ourselves and perhaps by example, passing on to our children.

It's not fair...that Johnny got called called for a penalty.
It's not fair...that Britanny got more votes that Lauren
It's not fair my daughter can't go to see Taylor.
It's not fair that one team loses over another, so everyone gets a trophy

These days, there can be no such thing as a most valuable player because little Ashley's self esteem may get damaged. Ask any teacher of especially middle-school age kids and you'll hear more horror stories about parents than the kids complaining "it's not fair".

Life isn't fair. And the sooner we learn it, and the sooner we teach our kids that lessen the better off we'll all be.

It isn't fair that a 40-something year old woman who never smoked or drank and who took good care of herself dies of breast cancer.

It isn't fair that a 23 year old kid gets loses a limb from a war he knows nothing about but now can't afford the lifetime of mental and physical health care he'll need.

It isn't fair that someone spent time in prison for a crime he didn't commit and can never get those years back.

But missing a Taylor Swift concert? Losing a game? Get a grip.

Life isn't fair, to be sure. But I thank God for those lessons learned from injustices faced. We learn far more from our failures than our successes. Disappointment make us stronger and teach us so much. And the victory is so much sweeter after working, falling a few times, struggling through something and then finally achieving it.

"Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride" ~ singer Gary Allan