We live in an age that fosters entitlement. Everything we want is right at our fingertips. There is no waiting necessary for most things. Want to know who the 24th president of the United States was? Looking for a good chicken recipe? Google it! Or forget even having to type it, we can just ask Siri. Want to know what your best friend across the country is up to? Just push your Facebook app and, voila, there you go, everything she’s been up to at your fingertips. I don’t even know the last time I watched a commercial. It’s even becoming difficult to wait a week to watch the next episode of our favorite TV show. Read more....
Our children are growing up in this world. They don’t know a world without cell phones, tablets, Xboxes, Netflix, instagram, snapchat, and DVRs (just to name a few of the conveniences of our time). These things are pretty incredible; they make life a lot easier. However, they can also foster entitlement. Throw on top of that owning $500 phones and tablets, $400 video game systems, $300 purses, and a monster can easily be created. Children often determine if they should have something using the standard that they deserve it, rather than deciding if they can afford it or if they actually need it. How can we blame them, many adults in our society do the same thing!
So how do we raise responsible children who are good decision makers, grateful for what they have, and do not feel entitled to things? This obviously is a huge challenge in this world of instant gratification and convenience. Today’s parents must be much more mindful of this than parents of previous generations had to be.
I think there are a few issues to keep in mind and strategies to employ that will help with this goal:
- Having children earn most of what they get. This will help them in several important areas. They will learn the value of things, participate in a little hard work, and learn to delay gratification. My suggestion with this is that their method of earning money is beyond what they should be expected to do as part of the family. For example, in my family, all of the children are required to participate in keeping the house clean and helping with school lunches, etc. as part of being a member of the household. However, they earn a small allowance for additional chores, such as unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and bringing in trash cans. They can use this money for whatever they would like. I do not monitor it or control it in any way with the exception of Christmas (described below).
- Making sure children learn the joy of giving.It is important that children learn to give and not just to receive. In my family, one way we achieve this is to require each child to use their own money to buy each member of the household as well as close extended family a present for Christmas. They are required to save all of the money they earn from September to December for this purpose. They have come to enjoy budgeting, shopping, wrapping, and giving presents almost as much as they enjoy getting their own gifts on Christmas morning.
- Requiring that children be respectful.Basic manners go a long way in warding off entitlement. When children are required to use words like “please” and “thank you” they are taking a moment to remember and express that whatever they are being given is a privilege and not an entitlement. And of course, when children begin to behave as though they are entitled to things, rather that be video game or device time, you to make them food, your help with homework, or driving them somewhere, it is very important that the privilege go away so they are reminded that these things are not things they are entitled to. Doing this consistently helps basic manners to return quickly!
The examples I give in this article of my family practices are to give ideas of things that can be done to enforce each of these three principles. Every household is different and every family structure is different, so what works in one may not work in another. The important thing is to be mindful of these three ideas and to find ways to make them your own and enforce them in your household. I look forward to hearing your ideas of how you are warding off entitlement in your home!