Bred in Captivity, Can Generation Y Survive in the Wild?

Zookeepers breed endangered species in captivity to save them from extinction.  However, something bad usually happens.

When they release them into the wild, the animals that were bred in captivity often do not avoid predators and are not able to find ample food or shelter for themselves. They die as a result.

We are breeding humans in captivity.


In an effort to protect children from the dangers of failure or setback, some have made them unfit for the wild world they’ll be living in. For years, I’ve watched parents and teachers lie to their children.

In the name of self esteem, they comfortably praise children for everything they do, even when they fail to do anything special, smart, or strong.

You tried?  Here’s a trophy or ribbon!

Unfortunately, this isn’t real life. Now that Generation Y is out in “The Wild”, they are surprised when the company they applied to doesn’t think they’re special, the words they write aren’t smart, or their strongest performance isn’t enough.  They learn that anything but first place may not be good enough.

Confused, these young people move in with their parents, go back for more school, or join the Occupy Wall Street protests.

They were bred in captivity.


If we want our children or team members to know how to hunt or protect themselves, then we must teach them how at an early age.  No longer should people be praised because they participated.  It is lazy and easy to praise everyone for everything.  Far more difficult and important, is to find the specific gifts that each person has, encourage them to use the gifts, and then support them as they fail, learn, and grow.

We must teach them to fish, not give them fish.  We must show them the real world, not hide them from it.

We must let them fail.

The school of hard knocks teaches real life lessons.  Losers will become learners. Failing may be the best thing that can happen to a young person.

Let them grow up in the wild.

Have a wild night,


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Published by Aaron Biebert

I'm a director, film/video exec producer, leader & 8pm Warrior. I am passionately chasing my goals at all times. I'm listening. Let's talk!

24 comments on “Bred in Captivity, Can Generation Y Survive in the Wild?”

  1. I have 9 kids and surprisingly that hasn’t given me a pattern of parenting! Some of them seem to have naturally high self-esteem and love honesty about what they’re producing or doing. They love to be encouraged to do better and more (after I say, “Good job!”). But a few crumple when they think I DON’T think their drawing, writing or school project isn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen! I can never win.
    I heard the expression “hot house flowers” used to describe a lot of people today. People cultivated in a protected environment who can’t handle the real world elements when exposed to them.

    I’m concerned for my kids.

    I tell them over and over again that their teacher has one point of view, the school system another, their family has one more. But those people don’t define who they are. A test failure doesn’t always mean you haven’t mastered the material! Nor does straight A’s mean they’re smart.

    My oldest daughter’s teacher was perplexed with my concern that she was getting straight A’s in 5th grade. I explained, “She must not be challenged enough. If she was bringing home some C’s and D’s I might be a little happier.” She was jumping through all of the hoops successfully and wasn’t growing.

    Anyways…long way of saying I agree! LOL!

    1. Betsy, it sounds like you are doing a great job. There is no one “correct way”, just some things to watch for. You are certainly watching and that is the key.

      I like how you questioned the teacher about straight A’s. I would agree that is a sign that your daughter isn’t being pushed enough. Kudos for caring that much to question.

      I come from a family of 8, and I know it isn’t easy.

      Your kids will be loved and ready for the wild.

  2. RIGHT ON Aaron! Coddling our kids is killing their ability to survive! I “credit” the self-esteem movement with leading this charge to dependence rather than what they really need – a reality check and independence!

  3. I think this is an excellent post, and I mostly agree. I think people do need encouragement. When I was young, I got very little of it. I think that has set me back more than a “you go girl” ever would have. Some of the complex building blocks of self-esteem come from knowing that your people stand behind you and appreciate you even when the rest of the world is harsh and unforgiving.

    My philosophy with my kids is to give them as much freedom to make their own decisions as is warranted by their display of maturity. I coddle them quite a bit on the way, and I think that gives them strength. But I spend a lot of time encouraging them to develop a “horse sense” about how to make the right decisions and the best choices, because before long they will be out in the world where I can neither coddle them nor monitor the decisions they make. I believe in giving ample encouragement, rewarding even small wins, and nudging them toward independence so that little by little they become smart, adaptive, capable people we can trust to manage their lives and careers with intelligence and resilience.

    Life does give you plenty of hard knocks. But home and family, in my book, should be the place you can always return to for a hug and a pat on the back, no matter what.

    1. Jayna, thank you for your thoughtful insight. I really appreciate your perspective.

      To clarify, I believe that encouragement is a very good and necessary thing. I just think it should be based on actual achievements.

      Everyone has real talents and it does people a disservice to give them general praise for meaningless things like participation. I think that just encourages them to pursue things they may not really be good at, and makes them have a false sense of security.

      I checked out your website, and you seem very talented. It sounds like you should have been given a LOT more praise for your talents. That’s a shame.

      It sounds like you’re teaching your children some valuable lessons and encouraging them to develop their true skills. My wife and I have two young children and we’re seeking to teach the same lessons.

      Thanks for your thoughts Jayna!


  4. Fantastic, Aaron. Though I am not a parent, I certainly appreciate what you are saying. Bruce Sallan and I had an exchange a while ago about the “self esteem police” which appalled me. In effect, those children who did well or excelled were not allowed to “play” because it would be unfair to the other children.

    “Over” protecting and entitlement are creating huge problems for now and for the future.

    Well done, Aaron. Thank you. Aloha. Janet

    1. Mahalo Janet! I think this issue applies to all of society since it’s affecting us all. The “Self Esteem Police” is an appalling idea and nothing short of dishonesty. Things are what they are and we shouldn’t be changing it.

      That’s called captivity.

      Thank you for your encouragement. You are very generous. Aloha!

  5. So agree Aaron and I speak about this often. It is so much safer today for children when they are out and about and we make like it is too dangerous for them to do anything on their own. Parents hover over them, make them only play one-on-one when they are young, over schedule their time, and never allow them to go anywhere on their own. Truth of the matter is that children are much safer today and if anything we should allow them more freedom to live, learn and grow.

    In addition, allowing your children to freely play with others, without the parents hovering over them, is fast becoming non-existent, and we are raising our children without socializing and problem solving skills. Let them play and you will be amazed at what they learn, how they develop and who they become.

    Thanks for raising a great issue. Check out what @MegRosker writes about in

    1. Hey Ted, thanks for adding your perspective. As usual, you hit the nail on the head. This hovering, scheduling, managing, and protecting are all negatives and cause the “bred in captivity” syndrome.

      I’m not sure why we’re seeing this more in recent decades vs. 40 to 50 years ago. Why the paranoia?

      I just checked out Megan’s blog and will read more later. Sounds like we’re on the same page.

      Thanks Ted!

  6. I will never forget the parenting/life advice I heard from an acquaintance. the father of a Navy SEAL, he often didn’t even know where’s his adult son was or if he was in harm’s way. When I asked that father how he and his wife could endure such a situation, he replied, “Well, ever since my kids were little, we were raising them to leave us.” In other words, the hardest thing possible, but the very thing that gives our children those survival skills in life. great post.

    1. That is so brilliantly simple. Sounds like he got his son ready for the wild. Seriously.

      Susan, thanks for sharing that and adding to the discussion.

      I really appreciate it!

  7. Aaron-

    I agree with Bruce! You are spot on! We would not imagine putting our children behind the wheel of a car (even if they have loved toy cars since the day they were born) and then sending them out to navigate the streets of downtown NYC!

    We train them to drive in “parking lots”, on roads with no traffic, under simulated conditions, and then acted shocked and surprised when they venture out onto the roads of the web/world and crash.

    Captivity is the most dangerous decision for both keeper and captive. It robs all of the potential to serve, learn, grow, and strengthen one another.

    Our children need teachers, guides, and leaders if we expect them to grow up to be this for themselves and others.

    Great post as always Aaron!

    1. Yes Angela! We would never dream of training our children to drive like that!

      I’m sure glad that the world has you to help remind teachers of this. I just saw more evidence of this and thought I’d say something. Thanks for all the generous comments.


  8. Such a great blog! Unfortunately, you’ve really hit something important on the head – the feeling of entitlement that so many people feel these days. And whose fault is that – the parents and everyone else who coddled them while growing up. Thanks for your insight.

    1. LaRae, I’m kind of hoping that I’m wrong actually. :-)

      It’s scary. We can’t have a whole generation of people that needs mommy and daddy to do everything for them. It’s not going to be pretty…

      Luckily, it doesn’t apply to everyone. There will be some great Gen Y 8pm Warriors.

  9. Really interesting – yes kids do need to learn and experience on their own but definitely require a parental backup.

    I can’t wait until your kids are teens – then you will experience some growing up in the wild. High school is a jungle! I cannot even mention the things that they have learned at the lunch table and asked me about later – scary stuff I tell ya!

    1. Hi Peggy!

      Yes, parental backup is key. I don’t think parents should abandon their kids. That would be too far the other way. Something in the middle.

      As for high school…oh boy. When my kids are in high school, I’m not sure I’ll even know what it is anymore. I’m already hearing talk about high school coaches monitoring kids tweets to make sure they aren’t drinking or slandering opponents.

      I never even had social media in high school! (thank goodness)

      Nevertheless, I agree that it will be a jungle.

      Thanks Peggy!

  10. Aaron, I agree with you. Blogged about a similar topic last week and was told that I am out of touch. Some parents fail to recognize that we are obligated to provide our children with coping skills for dealing with life.

    When you can’t play tag, Dodgeball or other games because people fear hurting feelings we set up a strange society. When everyone wins because no one is allowed to lose we set them up for failure. We need to stop crippling our children.

    1. Jack, I wonder if we are out of touch…

      I’m happy to be out of touch with mainstream education/parenting practices. I hope others are out of touch too.

      It’s the only hope we have as a country.

  11. I completely agree Aaron. Except I want to add a twist.

    My wife and I breed our four children in a homeschool captivity to shelter them, not from the world, but from the rampant false praise and the no-fail admin policies of today’s school systems.

    Let it be known that America does not have a kid problem, America has a parent problem. Parents who perpetuate the no fail, all praise system.

    One of the reasons we homeschool our four children is to make sure that they fail along the way. We have been criticized, looked down upon and shunned by friends, acquaintances and even family members for our decision to seemingly remove our children from mainstream society. These are the same people who advocate a government run school and tout it as the only way a child can become socialized.

    Often times when other children are in school our children are at the old folks home (not a politically correct name I’m sure) talking with old-school warriors who were raised correctly. Or they are spending time with their 90 something year old great grandfather who served in WWII. Maybe hearing praise from these great citizens for being cute, but only hearing true praise if and when deserved.

    So many more examples running through my head on how we allow them to fail and how we truly socialize them in preparation for the wild. Our children are still very young yet well on their way to being able to fend for themselves with or without an at-a-boy along the way.

    By the way, I’m not saying that homeschooling is the only way for everyone. It’s simply the only way for us and a increasingly large number of people who want to ensure success through failure.

    Just imagine how different our country could be if more people were in warrior school of any kind at all.

    1. Hey Jim,

      Great seeing you back on the blog here!

      I think it’s great that you are thinking so much about your kids.  Homeschooling is quite an investment.

      I was homeschooled for 2 years and it definitely set me up for plenty of social failure once I got back into the real world.  Luckily, that’s not always a bad thing and I learned a lot from the experience.

      Thanks for adding a new perspective into the discussion and I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts in the future.

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