As the nation moves forward from the results of the Presidential election, the other day while listening to the news, I was disturbed by the story of another election. A school principal subverted the democratic process of student elections by holding up the results. The principal did this based on the fact that too many children from the minority sector won their election races. In this particular school, the minority of the students are white; white students make up only 18% of this school’s population.

The children did the right thing voting for the person they liked the best, regardless of race, creed, or color. Yet the principal held up the results of this election for one week, trying to decide whether to nullify its election and call for a “re-do,” so that more of the other children could get involved – or to create new and extra positions, so that no one felt left out. This exemplifies a disturbing trend in our society. One in which, even the philosophy behind student elections, teaching the democratic process, is destroyed, in order for everyone to feel warm and fuzzy.

Meet the Millennials

Today we have a whole group of young people that we call millennials – men and women ages 18-33, who have higher rates of depression, stress and suicide, than any generation before them. A group in which, many have difficulty coping with the normal stresses of life. For example: structuring time for work, recreation, employment, graduating from college, and dealing with the emotional ups and downs of relationships. Even managing minor conflicts creates stress for some millennials.

Psychologically, millennials may appear to be spoiled or narcissistic. Though narcissism may be playing a small part in some millennials, the bigger problem seems to be their inability to handle the average stresses in life. Coupled with sluggish job economy, high expectations for academic achievement and the inability to make it on his own, the millennial often underachieves.

You can have the highest IQ in the world, but if you can’t get your act to together, you can’t function. You can’t find that inner resource to motivate you towards successful goals. During the Revolutionary War, for example, children as young as nine years old in Europe were fighting in armies and being sent to the New World with little money in their pockets, but a lot of hope for a better life. For example, John Adams brought his ten year old son with him to France and gave him a job, as both a messenger and assistant, with real obligations and real responsibilities. That young man, John Quincy Adams, later became the President of the United States.

So what’s causing this lost generation?

You‘ve heard a lot about helicopter parents who overprotect their children and oversee and involve themselves in all the joys and disappointments in their children’s lives. In the real world, if a child is not frustrated by his parents, in a loving and responsible way, then not only will he not ever learn about commitment, obligation, and responsibility, but also the world as the potential to then frustrate him, in a much more callous, cynical, and dangerous way.

Children who find their best friend in their parents, have a problem. When children are so pampered and protected that they don’t get to try things out and test themselves against their environment, then they have a problem growing up, making decisions, and coping with stress. These children may bring their parents to college interviews, job interviews, and give up easily, throwing in the towel, if his/her job doesn’t meet his/her emotional needs. As a result, some of these millennials feel paralyzed, dependent, and incapable of action, reporting higher levels of anxiety, stress and depression.

By neglecting to frustrate children in the safety and security of home, helicopter parents have made their children unable to deal with frustration, while needing instant and constant gratification. This trend is disruptive to Erickson’s model for emotional development, where he stresses the importance of navigating the stages of autonomy and confidence successfully. The end result of such interference by parents who over-protect their children is leading to a dependent youth unable to cope and unwilling to try.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.