I'm visiting my nephew and got dragged into playing Legos with him. "Dragged" not because I'm heartless, but because I want to keep sufficient distance in case I need to assert authority. Remember: being your kid's friend undermines your authority. It's the kind of thing he should be playing with his peers, not a family member who's 27 years older than him.
At any rate, he's so excited to show you this thing he made and that thing he made, and what this design in the booklet looks like, and what that one looks like. I found myself the whole time saying "cool..." or "man..." or staying silent. All you get is agreement from family members, even if they don't really think it's cool. Family members have to treat each other more nicely than if one of them were an outsider.
It's your peers who would pipe up with "BORRRINNG." Like, "Hey Uncle Agnostic, you wanna watch Sponge Bob?" I can't tell him, "Nah man, that shit's boring." But one of his friends hopefully would. "Aw c'mon, change the chanelllll. Sponge Bob sucks." Then they'd engage in a little back-and-forth, give-and-take, until they compromised.
With family members in an era of family friendliness, the grown-ups tell the child that whatever they like is awesome. No need to change, improve, or compromise your interests and tastes.
This ego sheltering can only last so long, though. What happens when the kid starts to interact with his peers at age 25 or whenever it is with you damn Millennials? His whole formative years up to that point have prepared him to expect that other people will find his interests fascinating and his tastes impeccable.
Then, SLAM — your peers shrug off many of your interests and find your tastes average. That's typical, and not the end of the world. But with no preparation for it, the ego faces this challenge in such an atrophied state that it gets utterly demolished.
To pick up the pieces: "Well what do those idiots know about awesome anyway? They're probably just jealous. I don't need their confirmation anyway." Now they're headed down the path of social withdrawal and misanthropy. They'll grow suspicious of their so-called friends who don't share 100% enthusiasm with their interests.
Parents in the '70s and '80s used to view their job as preparing their kids for the tough and unpredictable world out there, not to insulate them from it. It'll slam into them at some point, so might as well make sure they've grown to withstand it. Parents stayed out of our lives even when we were children. By encouraging us to go out and make friends on the playground, or at school, or around the neighborhood, they helped us discover the shocking reality that not everybody is as interested as we are in the stuff we're interested in.
That not only taught us to negotiate and compromise with someone who wasn't on the same page as us, but also to seek out new friends who would be closer to us. That way we have our friends where we don't have to struggle that much just to get something done, and other friends or acquaintances who we have to make more of an effort to do things with — but not shutting them out because of that. Each side goes back to their closer circle of friends afterward and engages in some good-spirited gossip about how weird the other side can be sometimes.
This is a separate effect from over-praising the kids' efforts and output. That shelters their ego about their capabilities. This is about what gets their attention, what motivates them, their interests and tastes. It's much closer to the core of their identity than their capabilities, so that questioning it is far more likely to be perceived as doubting who they are as a person.
That will trigger a much more desperate defense: "What do you mean, you don't like Harry Potter? Here is a PowerPoint of the Top 10 reasons why you must, unless you're a big fat stupid idiot."
Never having your tastes questioned — not well into your late teens anyway — leads to another major problem that you see with Millennials. They can't separate objective and subjective discussions about something they like. It all boils down to the subjective. The objective is only a means toward that end, as though an objective argument would force them to decide one way or another on the subjective side of things.
To end with an example, most of them like music that is not very musical. That is an objective claim, easy to verify. If it's what floats their boat, I guess I'll just have to consider them lame, and they can look at me playing a Duran Duran album as lame. But objectively speaking, "Rio," "Save a Prayer," "Hungry Like the Wolf," etc. are more musical. More riffs, motifs, more varied song structure (intros, bridges, outros), more intricate melodic phrasing, richer instrumentation (actually hearing the bass), instrumental solos, greater pitch range for the singing, more required to write the instrumental parts, and so on.
I know some Boomers who see that spelled out, and compare what Pandora says about their Sixties faves, and respond self-deprecatingly with, "Meh, I guess I get turned on by simplistic music then!" as opposed to fancy-schmancy music. Millennials get bent out of shape, though, as though "logic has proven my tastes inferior — must re-inspect the logic."
But that's what happens when your tastes rarely get questioned during your formative years. You don't appreciate that there could be two separate ways that this could happen, one objective and the other subjective. In fact, being told that your favorite TV show is boring would probably have introduced you to the objective side of things, when you asked them why they felt that way. "I dunno, it's like none of the challenges the characters face actually matters. The motivation feels empty." Ok, they wouldn't phrase it that way, but you know what I mean. Usually their response would not only amount to, "I dunno, it just sucks."