Are parents creating Generation Narcissist?

  • Article by: CHICAGO TRIBUNE
  • Updated: May 21, 2011 - 10:04 AM

A psychologist advocates balance in raising well-adjusted children in a connected world.

Are parents creating Generation Narcissist?

Posting your daughter's honor roll status on Facebook seems innocent enough. You're proud. Your friends and family can bask in her glory. Everyone's a winner, right?

Maybe not, says Texas-based psychologist Larry Bugen, whose new book, "Stuck on Me" (American College of Forensic Examiners, $20), warns that crafting an online image for our children might set them up for a life of self-absorption and undermine their ability to relate to others -- narcissism.

We chatted with him about child-rearing in our connected world.

Q How does posting updates about our children translate to their becoming narcissists?

A We are weaving together this perfect family image that allows our kids to ... be in the limelight, but it also creates an image they need to continue to uphold and live up to for the rest of their lives. They get caught up in the attention that image provides and get used to being center stage.

Q Do you think our kids are in danger of relying too much on others to define the person they become?

A At the core of being a healthy person is having a genuine self-image and self-esteem based on knowing your own unique gifts. It's a matter of self-discovery over the years. ... We don't necessarily do well if that's scripted for us, either by our parents or someone else, when we're growing up. Our identities are works in progress. They're not fixed. But so much of it depends on how we explore the world, and people explore when they feel secure.

Q So what's your advice to modern parents?

A Balance. Try to avoid extremes of either devaluation or over-idealization of children when you tweet or post on Facebook. And there's something precious about good old-fashioned privacy. ... Try to maintain a reasonable balance between what's privately cherished and what's publicly known. And be loving, and be thinking of what sharing that information in the cyberworld might mean to those involved.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

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