Stopping the age of ‘Victimhood’ Lifestyle for Children and Young People

The new age of ‘victimhood’ mentality is here which is fast becoming a lifestyle choice amongst children and young people in the Western and more affluent societies. It has grown a pace over the past few decades and is often borne on the spoiling of children by stressed, busy and hard strapped parents who fear their little darling’s wrath should they not succumb to their every whim and wish. Also it is seeded by manipulative images across all media sources that present as ‘normal’ lifestyles which are defined by stuff, appearance and perfection, which do not reflect reality.
As a result, these selfsame children and young people often never learn how to take control of their own lives and deal with the knocks and falls of life. Instead they develop all sorts of ills to affirm and confirm their ongoing and growing demands for others to pander to their every need. With their growing anxieties with not being able to achieve what they are told is the ‘perfect lifestyle’ and image and so wish and demand to have, they so often choose the ‘Victimhood’ mentality.
In teenage years such children can often be found bullying others into submission or finding someone to blame for what they refuse to take responsibility for, while secretly being more and more prone to anxiety and panic attacks as and when the world does not cushion their growing insecurity and desperate need for boundaries.
With such loss of self – determination and immersion in self obsession these young people grow increasingly more unsure. They seek all kinds of stuff both material and addictive to give immediate gratification and ease, and sadly can also fall into a self  – destructive practice of self – harm. Such of course is short term relief and only serves to call for more and more of stuff to fill a gaping void. They desperately need a new narrative and mindset to self fulfillment and what that truly means. Of course they also desperately need role models to support them. If these are not available within their immediate life circle, they are sought outside of themselves through the influences of celebrity lifestyles and the World of air brushed images of ‘perfection’.

Unable to achieve such perceived ‘perfection’ children and young people without grounded self belief can easily be blown by the ever changing winds of the latest craze, gadget, technology and image of what happiness looks like and is deemed to be ‘acceptable’. To ease this disillusionment  ‘victimhood’ mentality as a lifestyle choice is chosen for recognition and sympathy in a World where they feel more and more invisible. For things to change, this needs to be named and heard.

Much could be changed if more No’s were said and reasons for same given rather than unconscious Yes’s. Which often are given as compensation for not giving the time to really listen to these children and young people’s ‘real’ need to be heard. Much could also be changed, if less ‘new illnesses’ were created to appease and fill the growing vacuum of disenchantment. If less pills for these ‘new ills’ were handed out to give temporary relief and replaced by deeper and more meaningful engagement and conversations. If more time, space and room were given to really sharing life’s ebbs and flows with an honesty and kindness, and instilling in children and young people the self – belief that they can handle life. Supporting them to be inspired, to be part of creating and giving to their family, community and World. Thus developing a sense of self and self confidence in them that surpasses anything that the Manufactured World can provide.

The children and young people need to be supported to develop a new positive self ‘Growth Mindset’. One that says “I believe in you”. They don’t ‘need’ more stuff, they ‘want’ it, because there is so often nothing or no-one there to nurture their growth and independence. If we positively change this, we will notice a decreasing ‘victimhood’ mentality and see it replaced with a new ‘adulthood’ way of being and living which understands the balance between giving and receiving. A mentality that adds to life rather than just takes from it. That shares uniqueness and respects difference. That is borne on a new enthusiasm for life with an awareness that nourishes and builds a strong foundation which is well able to withstand whatever life throws at it without needing stuff to fill a void, or ‘a pill for every ill’ and where ‘Victimhood’ does not become a lifestyle choice.

We need to start here with this, in the now, to change the narrative with children and young people for their and all our sakes. They are after all the people that are the parent’s, employees, employers, decision makers and indeed perhaps ‘leaders’ of the future.


Author: Bernadette Phillips is a Sociologist, Writer and Poet and is available as a Provider of Health and Wellbeing Talks and Programmes for Schools, Communities and Workplaces.

December 2017