by Maureen Downey
In a culture where everyone wins a trophy, where A’s outnumber C’s on report cards and where a child’s self-esteem is as polished as the family silver, it’s not surprising that young people feel good about themselves.
Do they feel too good?
Yes, says Arthur Levine, co-author of the new book, “Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student,” a snapshot of the values, lives and aspirations of students enrolled in college between 2005 through current students.
“This is a generation of kids never permitted to skin their knees. If everyone won an award and you never really had to deal with adversity, why wouldn’t you think you were great?” asks Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and president emeritus of Teachers College, Columbia University.
That coddling, evidenced by parents still intervening for their kids with messy college roommates or demanding professors, is extending adolescence and delaying adulthood for the tightrope generation.
“As one person told us, 21 is the new 16,” says Levine. “This is a generation low in coping skills, low in dealing with adversity and low in autonomy.”