(This post is written with my parent hat on after enjoying two weeks of time with my family.)
I've seen this slogan before on kids' t-shirts but for some reason, the kid wearing it on the playground down at our local shopping precinct stuck in my mind. It's funny that at times, my wife and I feel like the parents who are out of sync with most other kids we see out and about. We insist that our boys wait their turn in line, use manners and eye contact when talking to others and watch where they are walking in relation to other people's personal space when out in public. On Saturday, we went to a birthday party for a family friend. Their son was turning seven and had his party at our local bowling centre. We arrived and insisted that both our boys stood with us while the bowling shoes were sorted out. No problem, except every other kid in the place was tearing around the place, running through other people's games, near missing the staff while their parents chatted obliviously. I can see Josh looking at me with his unspoken words ringing in my ears, "How come they get to run around wherever they like while I have to stand here doing what you think is the right thing?"
Actually, I want my kids to realise that life isn't just about them - that it is important to think about others. There is a difference between being true to yourself and wanting to have freedom for one self and allowing others to do the same, and having your own self motivated actions coming at the expense of others at hand. This is not a criticism of youth today but rather an observation of how many parents are telling their own kids in an unspoken way via their actions that they are indeed the centre of the universe, that yes, they do have the right to barge to the front of the queue, that their child is owed an apology if someone accidentally gets in their way and their child should get everything that their parent felt they missed out on as a child.
Another quick story - over the last two years, I had the privilege of teaching a student with impeccable manners. Every morning I got a genuine, warm greeting and I was thanked for small things that I did as a matter of course in the classroom. We (my tandem teacher and I) mentioned this to the student's parents at interview time and the father made an interesting observation. He appreciated the fact that we were complimenting his child but in his opinion, felt it was sad that we were doing so because it made it feel like good manners and graciousness were exceptional things, rather than being commonplace and just part of the way people treat each other.
So seeing "It's All About Me" on a T-shirt is either an ironic observation of the way society is operating these days or a motto to be adopted by kids today at the encouragement of their parents. There is a difference between catering for your child's needs and pandering to their wants.