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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GeorgeHayduke's picture

We have a culture that wroships the spoiled teens. Just look at who shows up in the tabloids, which is about the only reading many of the herd conducts. It's everywhere, not just with politicians.

A Lunatic's picture

If you have enough money or connections, risk and consequence simply do not exist. I believe some call it "fuck you" money.........

Budd aka Sidewinder's picture

Come by my house and watch me tell my wife that 'good kid' has no place on a resume

Jeepers Creepers's picture

That seems to be the mantra of the current politics of the day: a consequence free life.  No matter how many times you make bad choices, someone who made good choices should be the one held responsible.

Affluent parents of spoiled brats (read adults now in their 20's) who rail against capitalism but depend on their bourgeious parents to keep them comfortable.  It's amazing how much I see this phenomenon, and it's not going to last much longer as the music is about to stop.



caimen garou's picture

Kids these days are not taught by their parents to be responsible, they are not taught common sense ,and they htink if they got a degree it will lead to a life time of work in that field of study. kids are taught by the tv,baby sitters and video games. like anything else you get what you put into it people need to stop blaming everything else on their kids behavior,stop the prescrition drugs,the all day in front the tv  and little more wood shed medicine! my daughter is full time student, knows how to hunt ,fish,operate farm equipment,run the irragation system, she is knowledgable in electrical,carpentry and plumbing and a staight A sophmore in college and resects and is polite people! spend some time with your kids and teach them something!

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Caimen, it's even more than teaching responsibility. Kids are so over sheltered today it's unbelievable. About 10 years ago I invited 2 boys, 8 and 12 who were my older daughters classmates over for a day in the country. Their mother dropped them off with a bag full of video games, their premade lunches and medications which I was to feed them at a specified time. She would return at 5 pm sharp. I didn't have anything to play the games so I suggested they go outside and play. They cocked their heads at me questioningly. Finally my daughter said lets play in the creek. We have a seasonal creek that was flowing pretty strong at the time. When the boys saw it they came up with a contest boys against girls who could design a small boat that could negotiate the length of our property..pretty challenging for some goofy kids. When we heard mr miffed's power tools being used he went down and helped them not saw off their fingers. I tried to call them in for lunch but they were having too much fun and wouldn't come in. At five o'clock I hiked down to get them up before their mom came back.OMG. They were covered in mud from head to toe and the boys were strutting triumphantly showing me their winning design. Just then their mom drove up. I can't describe the anger that women had for me. Why hadn't I supervised her boys properly? She screamed at me she had not authorized any of this plus I was neglectful calling her they were dirty and required dry clothing...why hadn't I thought of her Mercedes leather seats? She drove off in a huff to get clean clothes. When she left her older son turned to me and I will never forget what he said as the mud streamed down his face " Thanks Mrs F for inviting me... I've never had so much fun at someone house before" I was so touched by that!

Two weeks later she called me and told me both of her boys had rashes on their arms which she felt was scabies and they probably got it from my girls or the creek bed. I told her neither one of my girls had any rashes but it was discounted. Her boys were never allowed over to come over to my house again and I never knew what happen to them. So sad. I know it's really easy to bash teenagers, actually I feel sorry for them.


akak's picture

Very nice, if sad, story Miffed.

Thanks for sharing it.

yogibear's picture

Watch for the other waa, waa, waa states, like California come asking for a bailout.

Tango in the Blight's picture

The opposite, being children of helicopter parents is just as bad. Instead of covering for junior's mistakes they make sure that junior is unable to make any mistakes from which they can learn. These children dare not do anything without their parent's full blessings as they are too scared to do so and their parents also keep a watchful eye most of the time and intervene when their kids are about to do something which they don't approve of. These kids are often the type who still live with mom & dad when they're over 40. When their parents eventually die they are left behind completely helpless.

Parents surely fuck up these days in raising their kids.

A. Magnus's picture

"Parents surely fuck up these days in raising their kids."

If you can call sticking the kids in front of a TV every waking minute they're not in school or having them vegetate in front of an XBOX to be raising kids, then maybe. Parents would rather indulge themselves these days by hopping their kids up on Ritalin or SSRIs if the kids get bored with their digital screen nipples...

Benjamin Glutton's picture
What’s Inside America’s Banks?

Some four years after the 2008 financial crisis, public trust in banks is as low as ever. Sophisticated investors describe big banks as “black boxes” that may still be concealing enormous risks—the sort that could again take down the economy. A close investigation of a supposedly conservative bank’s financial records uncovers the reason for these fears—and points the way toward urgent reforms.

Salon's picture

Please spread this link to all your patriot and constitutionalist friends.

Here is your marching orders.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Ah, so you are just pushing some crappy blog; how depressing. If you want paranoia, here's a much better take on just how well your rebellion goes:

Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A “Vision” of the Future. [Small Wars Journal]

DR's picture

I pity the Millennial women...a good man is hard to find.


"They don't have jobs. They're dropping out of college. They play video games all day and watch porn all night. Even their sperm counts are low. Why won't guys grow up?"


Ah I LOVE a good Zerohedge debate late in the morning...

Tango in the Blight's picture

That's why today's women increasingly become lesbo's or go black.

AgAu_man's picture

Years ago, a German very successful (rich!) marketing executive told me that he and many German businessmen LOVE America's culture, for being a "Juvenile, Narcissistic society".

When I asked him 'Why?', he said with a smile and gleeful chuckle:

"Because it's about primal, instant gratification!  And that is good for business.  It's what helps fuel a Consumerist society and profits to lofty heights... the Culture of Fun, Fun, Fun and I-want-it-NOW.  It's built into daily language and mindsets, just like Pavlov's dogs.  It now permeates the whole country.  And, BTW, American executives know this also.  They just can't admit it publicly."

Hmm, food for thought.

DR's picture

The US economy is around 70% consumption. What do you expect?

A. Magnus's picture

Mindless consuming without producing or contributing to the economic system otherwise is just another manifestation of the Keynesian Fiat Fraud ideology promoted by Wall Street's social engineers...

A. Magnus's picture

Mindless consuming without producing or contributing to the economic system otherwise is just another manifestation of the Keynesian Fiat Fraud ideology promoted by Wall Street's social engineers...

GMadScientist's picture

"First one's free" - The Pusher

Can I interest you in a variable interest rate credit card?

Benjamin Glutton's picture
‘Hang my son, he deserves it’

Family members of the accused who gangraped a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus wept and expressed disgust over the involvement of their kin. However, the locals of their residential area are glad they have been arrested as their “children will no more grow up in the company of these men.”
Remorseful mother Champa Devi of Vinay Sharma, an accused, wiped her tears while she said, “Give my son a death penalty!” She further said that in case her son is not hanged, he should be made impotent so that he remember his offence lifetime. Two teenaged sisters and a brother of Sharma refused to see their brother again. Vinay’s shattered sister said in a sinking tone, “I broke all my blood relations with Vinay.”
Vinay worked as an assistant gym trainer in the Siri Fort area and aspired to have a body like Salman Khan.
His mother has refused to cook for the family and intends to punish her and others in the family for being a blood-relative of him.
Ram Singh and Mukesh resided in R.K. Puram’s Sector-3 since the last two decades. Ram Singh’s neighbour Shanti, said that many a times, her young daughter complained to her about the foul language of Ram and Mukesh. Ram was a widower. His wife died four years ago due to health issues.
The mother of fruit seller Pawan Gupta (18) demanded punishment for her guilty son. “It will give a lesson to other rapist as well who take girl’s for granted.”
His aggressive mother claimed to have asked her 9-year-old son to swear by her and promise to respect women, be it his mother, sister, wife or a stranger.
BigInJapan's picture

Yet nobody in India seems outraged by the rape of lower caste women.
"Outrage" at the rape of a higher caste women makes the news, though.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

You realise that she's doing comedy, right? Check out the next videos of her selling it for "$9.99 on Ebay".

This, on the other hand, was very real.

Broomer's picture

No, I didn't.

And then you posted that.

As always, reality is far worse than you imagined.

dogbreath's picture

its always interesting to what the future of humanity looks like.

Vince Clortho's picture

another in-fighting thread on zh.


divide and conquer.  old vs young.  boomer vs x.  lib vs cons.

carry on.

combatsnoopy's picture

THe incentive motive is missing.  I did a lot of things right, I had been able to fend for myself.  I dind't do this to be a patronizing, condescending prick.  I did it because I really am better for it, my incentive was to be in CONTROL of my own affairs and how my life turned out.

Unfortuantely that incentive scares the be-Jesus out of baby boomers.

Please allow me to explain what happened in my "do gooder" family and you will understand exactly what is wrong with this country.

I'm a certified meal ticket.  I was beaten and thrown in the closet as a toddler by people who worship at alter of John Lennon.  In other words, the only good they did for me was for sycophantic purposes, only to look good to others on the outside.

Not only was I a self sufficent meal ticket subject to conditional acceptance and support from my mother beast, but for the benefit of her relatives who of course clutter their house with gaudy ugly labels instead of returning the favor.  I did everything right, kept my nose clean, the entire 9 yards and all that jazz.  

Guess what happened? 

The meal ticket parasites punished me, degraded me, tossed me to the side when I was in a position of need.  WHy?  So they can bail out criminal relatives that stiffed their business lenders, cheated on good wives and get arrested for doing drugs then cry about their losses on REIT backed investments that would've paid off my college tuition. THEN make me the scapegoat for the world's ills.  Being ill, the "honorable" serviceman DRAFTDODGER wanted to throw me away in a war so that I could get "great medical care".  There's no such thing, not when big pharma lobbied the medical community to keep us on their drugs.  So I could come home to realtors that would rob me in an unsafe, disgusting neighborhood because I'm in need of shelter. 

Nevermind me using my credentials to set this country up for success in the global market.  Nope! 

These are today's baby boomers!  THreatened, pitiful LOSERS. 

THIS is why people gave up.  The incentive motive is a wash.  WHY would anyone bother? 

For someone who had so many expectations placed on me to suffer at the hands of malicious bullshit, I give up..  I can't fix these people, I don't have the power to, I barely have the power to escape their influence.  I did prior to the subprime collapse and the massive trade/investment deficits. 

I'm too friggin' good to be a loser?  I'm actually a high quality individual, cocky in that-sure!  But at the same time, this horrible environment.   It has driven me close to suicide several times because the circumstances have been so poor.  Why friggin' bother?   I can't even find a safe place to live.  Do I have to fight a nasty mannered druggie in order to feel safe in my own front yard for the horrendous amount of money I spend on either rent or a mortgage?  Is this what my "rewards" are?  I've got better things to do? 

The reason why I won't touch drugs, negative culture, etc.  I worked too hard to get my own health back despite the problems in the medical community.  Drugs don't help, druggies have maliciously inflicted harm on me before.  THey didn't help me get a job, they didn't help me pass a class, they didn't help me get my health back.  I could say otherwise for gay men, but drugs-c'mon.  Who are you kidding?  They caused me harm, they stole from me, one made a feeble attempt to ruin my life when I was down.  And this was an "honorably" discharged military serviceman.  A spoiled prick waste of government dollars...he's not the last either. 

Why should I like them?  Because the sick cult of John Lennon worship are sooo scared that people won't like them?   Excuse me, but who f***ing cares?  THey're going to get more love from the Bible belt than they get from me! 

WHy should I partake in TARP, PPIP and Quantitative Easing which literally is the same ghettofabulous garbage?  

The problem is that Americans CHOSE (willingly) to look at themselves the way the media portrayed them, as losers.  If you thrive on negativity, what you do will be reflected as your image in the mirror- no amount of stealing and malicious actions will change that!    

Sorry, there are fabulous people in the younger generation out there.  WHy is Hollywood so fixated on what Snookie and Lindsay Lohan did wrong?  I don't care, they don't affect me?  It's the stupid STUPID *BABY* boomers who want to trash this generation to suffice for THEIR OWN feelings of inferiority as they thieve from us. 

John Lennon was the first experimental attempt at mass propoganda, well for marketing purposes.  And it worked out really well for the hypocritical prick.  Esp. with the drugs.  Edward Bernays loves him.  So does Saul Alinsky.  The ability to distinct reality from what you see on T.V. is no longer a problem for mind fuckers.  With a big Exception made for quality sports programs, when they're not locked out during election season and bought off by the refs.

Sorry, it's the blunt honest trust.  Love it or hate it... it is what it is.  Trouble is, not that people LIKE this-but they're doing everything in their power to drag others down regardless of what our threashold can tolerate.  It's an imposition to say the least.   

But if you want to critisize freely about humanity, look at the incentive motives you give others.  THey lie and make it one man's job to "save the world".  Sorry, none of us are Jesus Christ.  Or Zeus.  Not even the politicians and the bankers.  But when you conciously give someone no incentive to do you right and you reward the assholes... don't expect friends in the realm of humanity. 

jeffgroove102's picture

While I understand that this article is metaphor for other things, let's not forget that public schools are brain deadening gulags for creative thought and mostly exist for the benefit of the teachers unions.

Broomer's picture

Did you watch Matilda?

"If you are having fun, you are not learning"

csmith's picture

What I'd really like Dad, is to borrow the car keys. See ya later, can I have them, please?

QuietCorday's picture

I could write an entire article on this issues and how I see it on a day to day basis where I work (a university), but I will just mention one thing.

Going back at least 100 years, every member of my family has done some sort of paid work, or work that produces distinct economic value for the family, before the age of 15. I am 36, and I got my first part-time job at 14, for example.

That is until my cousin. Born in 87, she got her first Saturday job at 17. Fair enough.

But what is noticeable is that every single family member born after her has not done any kind of paid work until they hit 20+. They had the opportunity; there was part-time student work available, but they just wouldn't do it. My aunt said that her daughter, born in 1990, "wouldn't be seen dead working in the local minimarket."

But these kids still spend money. And they spend a lot of it. Always coming home for handouts. Inheritances from grandparents spent in a month on booze and clubbing. Student loans gone in a flash. Going through smart phones like no tomorrow. And these parents just keep on supplying these kids, without any thought to the consequences.

The upshot? These kids have no idea about money, they are living lives they will never be able to fund themselves, and they have no idea about the real world of work. And what they don't realise is that mummy and daddy's money isn't a bottomless pit, and they don't have the skills or experience to get a decent paid job. It will be an entirely lost generation of unemployable people.