F. Scott Fitzgerald knew the long term damage of being spoiled rotten. Not only was he a prime and painful example himself—as we’ve written about—but as he observed and studied the rich men and women of the Jazz Age, he saw how indulgent people quickly became the “careless” monsters that he portrayed in The Great Gatsby.
In Fitzgerald’s stories, the rich are always expecting life to be easy, expecting their money to exempt them from consequences; they’re selfish, naive, insufferable, and superficial. As the subjects of his stories, this makes them fascinating heroes and anti-heroes, but Fitzgerald also wanted us to know who the real villains were: the parents and the families that raised them. As he depicts in one memorable exchange in The Offshore Pirate, a story about a young, beautiful girl who refused to listen to her guardians:
“You’ve grown unbearable! Your disposition—”
“You’ve made me that way! No child ever had a bad disposition unless it’s her family’s fault! Whatever I am, you did it.”
This truth applies to all of us, not just fathers and families whose incomes put them in the 1%. We must blame ourselves or no one, remember? If our kid’s not a hard worker, that’s on us. If our kid’s a bully or acts like they have an advanced degree from “dick school,” that’s on us. If our kid has an attitude or gets into trouble, that’s on us. They’re kids. It’s our fault for not teaching them better… and it’s even less excusable if we throw up our hands and say, “That’s just the way they turned out.”
No, whatever they are, we did it. And it’s not too late to make improvements.