Guest Post: Spoiled Teenager Syndrome

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Is masking risk, cost and consequence a strategy that leads to success? No; it is a pathway to catastrophic failure.

What are the core characteristics of the spoiled teenager? The conventional view is that the spoiled teen "gets everything they want." In my view, the key characteristic of Spoiled Teenager Syndrome is that risk, cost and consequence have been masked.

This is a systemic point of view, meaning that the masking of risk, cost and consequence help us understand not just the eventual failure of spoiled teenagers but the eventual failure of every group or enterprise that masks risk, cost and consequence as a strategy to paper over an unsustainable Status Quo. This includes families, companies, states and nations.

The spoiled teen is spoiled precisely because the risk, cost and consequence of their choices and actions are suppressed by Mommy and/or Daddy. Since Mommy and/or Daddy diligently cover the cost and mask the eventual consequence of Junior's unrealistic expectations and poor choices, the risks created by Junior's choices and lifestyle are also masked. Junior naturally assumes Mommy and/or Daddy will bail him out of every scrape and "make it right" at no cost to Junior.

Masking risk, cost and consequence creates an illusory world that eventually crashes on the unforgiving rocks of reality. Anyone who knows parents who have spoiled their kids has stories that beggar the imagination of those who have no choice but to live in the real world. In one such instance within our circle of friends, the daughter who was caught shoplifting told her Mom that she did not want to go to court, and Mom had to do something so she wouldn't have to face any consequence from her actions.

This 16-year old apparently believed that Mommy could push risk, cost and consequence aside in all cases; even the law should give way if it proved inconvenient or painful.

Are the values, experiences and skills spoiled teens receive going to help them navigate adulthood, or will they encourage a state of permanent adolescence? When will Mommy and Daddy stop hovering, warding off risk, cost and consequence? We know the answer: when they are finally unable to do so.

Did all their "help" masking risk, cost and consequence actually aid their child in the long-term? Or did it cripple the child by leading him into a false sense of security, an illusory state where someone will always save you from consequence?

What sort of skills to assess and manage risk does the spoiled teen have in hand when risk has been cloaked? How can the teen understand cost and trade-offs when the true costs of their lifestyle have been hidden? How can the teen navigate adult life, which is characterized by taking responsibility for one's actions and being accountable to others, when the consequences of his choices have been smoothed away by Mommy and Daddy?

One intrinsic characteristic of parents who have masked risk, cost and consequence is that they do not perceive themselves as having spoiled their children. Instead, they see themselves as "good parents" who are protecting their children from the unpleasant rough edges of life. In their view, there is plenty of time later in life to learn about risk assessment, short-term and long-term trade-offs, costs (both financial and emotional), accountability, realistic appraisals and consequence.

These parents seem blind to the reality that their coddling and hovering have left their children disastrously ill-prepared for adulthood. If there is any recipe for guaranteed unhappiness, it is nurturing expectations that are wildly at odds with what real life offers. Risk and return are indeed causally linked.

I have watched in amazement as coddled 19-year olds taking a few classes at community college and dreaming of rock stardom confidently declare that they would be OK with being a firefighter in a wealthy city because the starting pay was $80,000. That there are 1,000 applicants for every opening did not seem to register in this young man's assessment, nor did his inability to clean up a weedy backyard; he stopped after an hour or so because there was no consequence to a sorrowfully half-baked effort.

I grieve for young people so ill-prepared for a recessionary economy, not to mention marriage, managing scarce income and capital and a hundred other aspects of unsubsidized adulthood. Their parents have essentially robbed them of the slow and relatively safe part of the learning curve, where you get fired for being late at 16 years of age rather than at 26.

Is it any wonder that many young people are boiling with frustration when they exit college and the protected enclave of their parents' home to find a world that doesn't respond to their desires for creative expression and their long list of likes and dislikes, i.e. demands?

On the other side of the ledger, I have seen quiet young men and women, residents in youth homeless shelters, who received no buffering at all between the teen years and unforgiving adulthood. Abused at home or simply abandoned, they hit the road as the only alternative open to them. Penniless and without family support, they often face bleak choices. Their appraisals (in my limited experience) are by necessity realistic. Of course they are hurting; but ironically, perhaps, they are in some ways better prepared to navigate adulthood than teens who have yet to be exposed to risk, cost and consequence.

Is masking risk, cost and consequence a strategy that leads to success? No; it is a pathway to repeated catastrophic failure. What is the Central Planning strategy being pursued by our Central State and the Federal Reserve? Masking risk, cost and consequence.

Masking risk, cost and consequence is disastrous not just for teens, but for entire nations.

My new book Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It is now available in print and Kindle editions--10% to 20% discounts.

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icanhasbailout's picture

Don't blame Gen X - we're the first ones who got royally fucked by the boomers and we've been complaining about and trying to work around the situation ever since.

MachoMan's picture

Yep.  Look at the author's assessment of the kid who was weeding his garden...  There is this notion amongst entrenched power that there has to be "dues" paid in by youngsters...  and that regardless of skill level, talent, or ability, the youngins need to put their dues in and, eventually, there might be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for a select few.

I think what you have is a generation that's calling bullshit...  that the jackoff services jobs most americans perform could be performed by a monkey...  despite the employer bridge troll requiring college degrees to perform the work.  Whenever you see people like the author espousing these ideas, it's purely and simply a demand for rent seeking... 

In other words, kids have figured out that they have leverage because the older generations have spent themselves into dependency.  Denial isn't a river in egypt (although it should be; that would be awesome).  If you want labor to move, then offer something more than a condescending attitude and a sub-living wage.  The motivators of yesteryear do not have the same effect on subsequent generations...  employers have to think outside the box in order to get the young mules to pull the apple cart...  the whip leads to nothing but a donkey sitting in the mud.

jonan's picture

ivymike wants uncle same to compel me to be his daddy...for fucks sake mike, i'm only 29, have a shit degree in finance (when i was in the matrix i thought i'd graduate and get hired as a managing director, L-o-fucking-L) and already live in one of the most expensive places in the fucking country...i don't have kids not because i don't want them, but because i know i can't afford them...

fuck you...i ain't your fucking daddy...i can barely take care of myself with the leftover scraps your stupid fucking uncle leaves me after he rapes me on a semi-monthly basis...

TrumpXVI's picture

The "spoiled teenager syndrome" is very, very close to any addictive disorder.  And it's well known how that turns out; crash and burn.

The day the alcoholic wakes up in the gutter, in the rain, after being mugged, maybe, if a miracle is to happen, maybe then he'll reach an epiphany and try to turn his life around; but probably not.

Chief KnocAHoma's picture

And like a single mom enabler the Republicans keep saying...

"We are serious this time. If you go on one more wild money printing binge I'm gonna put my foot down... or spank you... or cut off your allowance."

The Dems retort with...

"Fuck you! We are now the mob and we outnumber you on the street. Give us our shit or we'll starting eating your flesh."

Temporalist's picture

Those "single mom enabler" "republicans" are trading little yellow and blue pills with the very teenagers they are trying to reprimand.  It is so obviously not about party anymore that people still saying "Dem" or "Rep" is sad. 

trav777's picture

these spoiled brat kids grow up into unmarriageable spoiled brat 30-something women who are pissed that reality has not seen fit to conform itself to their wishes.

And, parents still enable it, as long as they possibly can.

vast-dom's picture

correct. nothing worse than a 30-something woman self-entitled and screaming at mommy while taking her money. i've seen it firsthand and it is NOT pretty. besides, 20-somethings are preferable for at very least you can justify a bit longer their narcissism, before you send them packing... 

Azannoth's picture

Even worse(behaved) are all those 40ty year olds that wanna be 30ty again, but .. at least they are spending their own money

combatsnoopy's picture

the problem with marraiges is that it's for meal ticket purposes.  Not for the purpose of raising a healthy and well adjusted family that can fend for itself in the real world.

MachoMan's picture

I had a co-worker one time that said "macho, you need to trade your woman in when she reaches 27, after that all kinds of stuff starts to go wrong, cottage cheese thighs, the whole 9 yards...  it's what I do anyway"

Larry Dallas's picture

"these spoiled brat kids grow up into unmarriageable spoiled brat 30-something women who are pissed that reality has not seen fit to conform itself to their wishes."

Especially those who get pregnant before marriage.

PeterLemonJello's picture

Only failure and rejection can teach some valuable lessons.

Rainman's picture

Is this why coddled white Amerikan youts are shootin up the skools ?

Jonas Parker's picture

No, it's why parentless black youths are killing each other at every opportunity...

rwe2late's picture

 So, Prohibition II (the "war on drugs"), the mass incarceration industry, the priority of warmaking over infrastructure investment, the lack of good jobs (or any jobs) ... all have no impact on human behavior.

Let's just focus on "good parenting" before fixing any of the above. 

Matt's picture

Would be interesting to compare things last time around compared to this one. 1932 vs 2013.

S.N.A.F.U.'s picture

Ah, but which is cause and which is effect?  Maybe a bit of both?  It sure can't help one to vote smart if one's been raised stupid.  It may be necessary to fix multiple things concurrently as leaving one bad may simply [re]spoil the other.  It seems to me at the core it's all about not being stupid/ignorant (or being surrounded by too many such people who will create a government that reflects their intellectual limitations -- a government to which you are subjected).  If you think "infrastructure investment" by the government into government schools is ever going to result to a less stupid populous, you may want to reconsider that idea.  (I'm not convinced there's any way out of this mess other than "crash and burn".)

Larry Dallas's picture

Jonas Parker hit the nail on the head. There is definately more of an implicit value placed on white kids who come from relatively stable families who are seen to at least hopefully contribute to society, than their black counterparts in other urban areas who are directionless, fatherless and uneducated.

I guess that is why you don't see the news lighting a candle for anything that happens in Chicago. Perhaps secretly, Darwin is working behind the scenes.

BlueCollaredOne's picture

Psychopaths do pyschopathic things.  I can't explain why white kid's tend to go after school, same as you probably can't explain why black kids like to shoot eachother 

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Spree-killers aren't psychopaths; Natural Born Killers isn't reality. In fact, they're usually on a totally different spectrum, and has been well-documented in many societies going back over 100 years. A psychotic break is involved, but this is not psychopathy.

Pow Meng Yap,4 a psychiatrist for the Hong Kong Government, wrote in 1951 that amok behavior was preceded by a period of brooding, and if the attacker was not killed in the process, it ended when the individual became exhausted and collapsed (and frequently had amnesia for the event). Yap's description of amok suggests a psychotic type of depressive disorder or a dissociative disorder...

Jin-Inn Teoh, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen in London, reported in 1972 that amok behavior existed in all countries, differing only in the methods and weapons used in the attacks.5 According to Teoh, culture was a modulating factor that determined how amok was manifested, but not whether or not it occurred. The individual's culture and the weapons available naturally influenced the method of the attack...

A more useful and modern approach is that amok represents an extreme form of violent behavior occurring as a result of a mental disorder, personality pathology, and psychosocial stressors. Early recognition of the risk factors for amok and prompt treatment of the underlying psychiatric condition or personality disorder offer the best chance of preventing it. Finally, conceptualizing the mass violence of amok as the manifestation of another mental disorder provides a framework in which future occurrences of mass violence can be analyzed. [source]


So yes, you can explain certain parts of their behaviour. Hint: psychosocial stressors. Wonder where those arise in modern America for young males? Oh, right... schools.

Oh, and "Black kids" shoot each other due to crime, gangs, poverty and culture and the cheapness of guns. But we all knew that, didn't we? 



p.s. UK readers might be confused by "University of Aberdeen in London", as am I. But, it's a real published paper...

Azannoth's picture

Maybe they are simply sick & tired of "The White Guilt" while being told they need to give more(to the community) and expect less(for themselves) in return

RSBriggs's picture

But in the current case of the Fed, the law DOES give way, and there don't appear to be any limits to the pushing aside of consequences.   When you can CREATE what reality is and are the one defining what risk is, why would there be any consequences?  In this scenario,  what would ever cause any sort of crash to reality?

hidingfromhelis's picture

Spoiled bankster syndrome truly knows no bounds.

Zer0head's picture

insider games about to begin as house convenes to elect speaker

my guess is Boner fails in first ballot (watch market tank) and musters support to win second vote (markets recover)

Dr Benway's picture

For sure many youths are spoilt rotten around the world, but many many others have just been fucked by an older generation that has mortgaged their kids future

AgAu_man's picture

Historically speaking, is this not a natural consequence of any Culture of Affluence?

Mercury's picture

Culture of entitlement.

Affluence implies real wealth.

Sanksion's picture

As a teen, I din't have a money printer. Was not so spoiled after all...

GMadScientist's picture

Poor, Ferris; enjoy that day off.

Freddie's picture

People voted for this especially young people.  They wanted a hipster.   Keep watching TV and Hollywood because they want to disarm these kids and then it will get a lot worse.  Sheep.

Mercury's picture

What is the Central Planning strategy being pursued by our Central State and the Federal Reserve? Masking risk, cost and consequence.


...and creating perverse incentives in the process.

GMadScientist's picture

Veruca Salt is Ayn Rand.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

When we spoil our children are we protecting them or ourselves from life's (emotional) consequences? There is a huge reservoir of latent guilt residing in the American adult population about leaving their children to be raised by the system (day care, school, baby sitters etc) while they pursue a "career", ostensibly for the greater family good, but oftentimes for their own financial, emotional and ego inflation.

It takes a well grounded and centered person to realize that our only purpose in life as a parent is to prepare our children to leave us and to enter the world with as few neuroses as possible. This requires that we mature, preferably before (or at worst concurrently to) our children growing up. What has happened in many cases is that we have transferred our own neurosis to our children while the increasingly dysfunctional society works its own destruction from the other side.

NotApplicable's picture

You skipped your soma again, didn't you?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

It's all Mrs. Cog's fault. She's in charge of my morning prep. She slept in so I missed my morning dose. Shame on her.

I'll pop in the local Soma Center at lunch for a quick recharge. :>)

BlueCollaredOne's picture

At 28, I believe that being 10 years removed from high school my peers have had enough time to get their shit together and begin their career paths.  I don't have facebook, but sometimes catch myself using my girlfriend's account to look up some of the people that I get curious about to see what they have become.  

What I find is contrary to what Mr. Hughs-Smith suggests.  All of the "haves" who drove mommy and daddys BMW's to school all went to the best schools, and now have the best jobs.  My favorite example is the guy who had a range rover when 16, went to columbia, and now works for Goldman.  

The rich are getting richer.

bnbdnb's picture

Being connected always wins.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Money doesn't kill the pain. But it sure can purchase a lot of pain killers and sooth many rough edges. Just because someone is "sucessful" doesn't mean they are sane.

I would argue that being well adjusted to life in the insane asylum is most certainly not a good thing. But those who run (and live within) the insane asylum might think otherwise.

Mercury's picture

Not all rich kids are smart and hard working but some actually are.  I don't know about Columbia but Dad's a pretty big account if Goldman hired him just for his home address.

But yeah, to the extent that you believe intelligence is inherited, the gene pools are getting more segregated not less. Doctors used to marry their secretaries, now they marry other doctors (etc. etc.).  So, as maddening as cronyism is, the more significant factor may be even more disturbing.

BlueCollaredOne's picture

I believe dad was a Columbia alum, and therefore most likely a donor. That always helps admissions.  I don't attribute his hiring by goldman to address, it probably more has to do with the amount of professors that now teach at Columbia after having once worked at Goldman.  

It's pretty genius actually, having your future workers pay you to teach them while you get to select the best fit candidates to continue the status quo.  

GottaBKiddn's picture

And after all, what are the elite, but spoiled children.

mirac's picture

Many of these "spoiled teenagers" are narcistic psychopaths...

Quinvarius's picture

There is freedom and relief in knowing this system can only completely collapse under the weight of the Socialist system of failure we have adopted.  They will try to keep the fantasy going.  But it will fail because it needs real free markets and capitalism to suck the life out of to even exist.

Dr. Engali's picture

You mean we should allow for experience and failure to play a role in life and in the system? Next thing you know you'll be telling us that it's not a good idea to kids candy for breakfast and ice cream for dinner. Or limitless fiat and bail outs in a"free market" society. 

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

Brilliant metaphor +100

buzzsaw99's picture

Jon Corzine bitchez. No consequences, ever.