So many Norwegian children and teenagers are accustomed to affluence and busy parents who want to avoid conflicts that they’re growing up “spoiled and lazy,” warn child-rearing experts and employers. One police officer who specializes in working with youth claims they have “too many rights,” and urges consideration of raising the legal age from 18 to 21.
Berit Michelet of the police district in Asker og Bærum, an affluent area just west of Oslo, told newspaper Aftenposten that so many youth are so used to negotiating with their tired and distracted parents or other adults in their lives that they don’t listen and won’t comply with orders.
“They demand respect themselves, but don’t act respectfully towards others,” said Michelet, who has won awards for her efforts to prevent juvenile crime. She and others are worried about the flip side of the successful welfare state that’s been built up in Norway since World War II, and fueled by oil revenues.
‘The Diva Generation’
Newspaper Aftenposten has been running a series of articles in recent days highlighting what many see as a growing problem among many young indulged Norwegians: Their seeming inability to accept rules and responsibility, and show respect.
Far too many, said the head of trainees at a local building trades firm, “are used to lying on the sofa with Playstation.” He worries that fewer youth, who have grown up with lots of material goods and holidays abroad, realize that most people need to work for a living. Employers worry that too many youth from affluent families will have a hard time fitting into the business world, where they’ll be expected to accept orders and meet demands.
“We can’t help it that we’ve grown up here and have a good life,” one young woman told Aftenposten. “Some think that if they don’t get a job, they can just go on welfare. I don’t, though.”
Some experts call today’s youth divagenerasjonen (The Diva Generation), worrying that they’re passive and use their parents as chauffeur, cook and manager. They expect their parents to organize their lives, instead of taking responsibility themselves.
‘Can’t be without their mobile phones’
When one local school launched a “Refugee Camp” day, during which teenage students would learn what it’s like to live as refugees, many showed up with letters from their parents demanding they be excused from the exercise. The parents argued that their children couldn’t be without their mobile phones, for example.
“They (the youngsters) are very used to getting everything they want, and they don’t think the refugees’ situation has anything to do with them,” said Kenneth Johansen, who has worked with 5,000 Norwegian teenagers in role-swapping exercises. “It’s often the parents who create the problems.” Johansen said he was most surprised over how overly protected the youngsters are.
While young people elsewhere in Europe, such as Spain and Greece, get up before dawn to take their place in long unemployment lines, their Norwegian counterparts “are living in a bubble,” writes Aftenposten, which noted that only 70 percent of Norwegians aged 20 to 24 have completed videregåendeskole, the local equivalent of high school and the first year of college. That’s lower than in most European countries, and politicians have long worried about high drop-out rates among Norwegian youth.
“Their parents, day care center staff and the schools have presented a world that’s perhaps completely unrealistic,” said Sissel Sare, personnel director at a local consulting firm who has interviewed thousands of young job seekers for the past 15 years. “They ask what a job will offer them, instead of what they can offer to an employer. Their expectations have to be seriously screwed down in their meeting with the working world.”