I recently attended a presentation about the different ways that Baby Boomers, Gen Xs and Gen Ys make buying decisions. One of the points made by the speaker is that we are currently raising a generation of kids who never get to “lose” (when we now give medals to kids for participating instead of winning) and who, even as they enter adulthood, still have their parents fighting their battles for them (for an interesting read on this, check out this Huffington Post article).
One generational change that the presenter discussed was that now most parents repeatedly tell their children that they are “special” (whereas when I was growing up in the 1960’s, parents used the word “special” in an almost derogatory way — as in “What do you think you are, special or something?”).
Part of my interest in these changes relates to my role as parent of a 12-year-old son (who is frequently told that he is special), but I am also interested in anything that explains any part of the explosion in dental office embezzlement we have seen over the past two decades.
There has clearly been a seismic shift in the environment in which we raise our kids. Since it is we adults who create the framework in which our offspring develop, I have to conclude that changed parenting mirrors a change in our values and is not an adaptation to newborns behaving differently from birth.
I am certainly not advocating a return to the “Mad Men” 1960’s when kids sat on smoking parents’ laps in the front seat of cars and bullying was almost encouraged; I’m simply considering changes in societal values and their potential effect on embezzlement.
I’ve said before that our embezzlers fall into two categories, “Needy” and “Greedy”, with Needy thieves pushed by financial need and the Greedy stealing for emotional reasons. One observation I have often made about Greedy thieves is that they feel that they have underachieved in life and that they “deserve” certain things that their incomes don’t permit. I am sure that I am not the only one who sees the parallel between the concept that “everyone should be considered a winner, regardless of effort and ability” and “life hasn’t rewarded me the way that it should, and therefore I am justified in correcting this societal oversight by stealing”.
So what I realized from the lecture I attended is that probably Baby Boomers and Gen Xs worldview makes some of them feel more “entitled” to embezzle than perhaps their parents felt. This entitlement would certainly explain some part of why embezzlement in dentistry has been such a growth industry.