I read an article lately, (I will apologize up front that I don't remember which magazine it was in and I'm not going to track it down...if I do, I won't ever finish this thought) and I've been thinking about it since. I'm not thinking about the subject of the article, which was about the rise of schools limiting the number of college referrals they will write for a student. No, what struck me was the response from the parents quoted in the article. Never mind that some students were applying to dozens of schools, or that the advisers/teachers were spending hours outside of work to complete these forms for the students. That didn't matter to the parents of little Johnny or Sue. (Or more likely, Little Jared and Savannah.) They bristled at the idea that the schools would impose limits on their child's "choices and dreams." The schools who were quoted weren't stripping the procedure down to the bare bones. The schools were talking about limiting th applications to 14 in one case and I believe 20 in another. That doesn't sound like the big, bad principal is stomping all over Junior's life plans. Studies have shown that the shotgun approach to admissions isn't very helpful, anyway. (U.S. News and World Report had articles on this earlier this year.) It's much better to streamline your applications to a half dozen schools, a few of those being safe schools- schools you are sure to get into.
Anyway, back to the parents', and probably students, attitude. There is the prevailing attitude in our culture that "choice" is God. We can't do anyting to limit anyone's choices in life. That seems to be the primary sin of our society. Don't tie me down, don't fence me in and whatever you do, don't limit my choices. Never mind that more choices don't make us happier. Never mind that more choices actually cause greater stress and lower contentment with our eventual decision. Never mind that great choice for me may mean major inconvenience, or worse, for someone else. As long as you don't limit me, I'm supposedly happy. (Read The Paradox of Choice for more information on how more choices don't make things better.)
I was so disappointed to see these quotes by the parents wanting people to work overtime so their child can apply to dozens of schools. What happened to teaching our children to be considerate of others? What happened to self control, putting others before ourselves? And what happened to growing up? The reality is, it's not all about YOU, child. These parents are fostering entitlement mentality in a major way.
This mentality pervades relationships, work situations, marriages, faith communities and more. Don't tell me what to do. Don't limit my choices. Don't make me decide. And if I do decide, then I want all decisions to be reversible. Don't even hint that there is anything permanent here. Permanence limits my choices.