One of the almost constant struggles of 21st-century parenting is the battle against children’s entitled attitudes.
Article after article discusses how kids are more entitled than ever today, doing less around the home, being padded from failure, and given awards for just showing up. How children think they somehow deserve a free college education (paid for by mom and dad or the State), to get paid $15/hr to take someone’s food order, and to have the latest gadgets and toys free of limitations and monitoring. When children don’t get what they think they deserve, they cry it’s unfair, unjust, and plain wrong.
Most sensible adults see what a problem we have among the emerging young adults because of their entitled attitudes and opinions.
However, not all these adults are really willing to really look at the heart of the matter. They want to blame the children themselves, but children have always been inherently self-absorbed and self-indulgent.Some want to blame parents for coddling their kids. That’s a better place to begin, but ultimately, it starts with the parent themselves, not just their parenting style.
An entitled rising generation begins with us, the parents, believing that we, too, are entitled to certain things.
Maybe you don’t think that you, as an adult, do feel entitled, or that you don’t live an entitled lifestyle. That’s kinda what I thought too.
I am a pretty frugal individual. We budget. We don’t buy name brand clothing. I don’t wear a lot of make-up or jewelry or accessories. I have just one purse, which now doubles as our diaper bag. I wear a pair of running shoes just about everyday and it’s a pair I’ve had for more than two years. We don’t have family babysit for us whenever we want to go out. We don’t hire maids to regularly clean for us. We don’t eat out for every meal. We don’t take vacations to Disney World. We don’t drive fancy sports cars. We don’t even have our own home.
We don’t really have a lot of money, so how could we be entitled? Or how could we be that entitled?
I think if we want to tackle entitlement and ingratitude in our children, it comes down to us and our choices. We have to examine ourselves and begin there. After all, how can we show our kids gratitude unless we are thankful? How can we ask them to go upstream when we are caught in the whirlpool of our culture that demands more as the goal?
We as parents have to examine the question for ourselves, so we can say to our children with conviction, ‘Yes, that is all. We don’t need more.’
The Entitlement We Feel as Adults
I began to think about ways in which my husband and I may actually have an entitled type of attitude and perhaps areas where we may have a serious lack of ingratitude. And then the cracks in my (self-righteous) ego began to widen.
We often feel entitled to a special dinner out in order to celebrate the completion of a big exam or the start of a new school year or semester.
We feel entitled in that we shouldn’t have to wait… at the grocery store, at the post office, in traffic, for our next paycheck, until we have enough in the bank, or on a webpage or video to load on our phone.
We feel entitled to convenience, to our instantly warmed food, clothes that don’t need ironing, meals that don’t require preparation, and dishes we don’t have to clean ourselves.
We feel entitled to extra helpings of food, to more clothes than we need, to not have to walk places (but expect sidewalks and crosswalks the entire time when we do), to constant internet connection, to never needing to carry a map or ask for directions.
We feel entitled to entertainment – to multiple streaming devices, tablets, and touch screens – and to be constantly entertained by something.The reality is, when my husband and I are unable to have one of these things (that we subconsciously feel entitled to), we often get upset. We complain. We grumble. We murmur. We whine and say “It’s not fair!”
Is it any surprise where our children learn ingratitude and an entitled attitude?
When we as parents reward ourselves with buying something we don’t really need, perhaps when we can’t really afford it, and for really no reason at all, is it any wonder our children think they should be given what they want at any time, despite how expensive and how unremarkable the day?
Kirsten Welch said that “It didn’t take me long, though, to realize that too many fun days make the boring ones harder to bear.”
Don’t we as parents often wonder what’s in it for us? Wonder what more we can get for our dollar? Think about how we are being inconvenienced by someone else or some company or organization who failed to do their job properly?
Don’t we really like to complain?
The Answer to Our Parental Entitlement
As parents what we all need more contentment, because as Welch says “[contentment] doesn’t fluctuate with our circumstances.”
Many of us are still seeking happiness in monetary possessions, in accolades, in degrees, in fame, or fortune. We seek happiness from our parenting, often thinking that by ensuring our kids’ happiness, we are ensuring our own in the process. But, “instead of happiness being a by-product of the life we live, it has become an elusive destination” according to Welch.
Lori Gottlieb observed that “It’s not enough to be happy–if you can be even happier. The American Dream and the pursuit of happiness have morphed from a quest for general contentment to the idea that you must be happy at all times and in every way.”
And do you know where contentment comes from? Believing that Christ is enough.
As Christians, my husband and I believe in Christ, believe His Word, and worship Him. But, we apparently don’t really believe that He alone is enough.
Christ told his disciples not to take thought for their raiment or what they would eat, because God would provide for them, just as he cared for the lilies of the field, who are far less important to Him than His disciples.
Today we’re bombarded with messages that counteract our belief that Christ is enough. We’re told that we do need more, deserve more, are owed more. We’re told that we need to fight tooth and nail to have the best, the biggest, the brightest. We’re told that we need to look the part, look like we’re all put together, look like we’re happy all the time.
[Tweet “”It’s really hard to teach our kids to be different from the world if we look just like it.” – Kirsten Welch”]
I haven’t finished reading through my advance copy of Raising Grateful Kids by Kirsten Welch yet, but I eagerly await the chapter on creating a truly Christ-centered home. Because, I know the key to ending my ingratitude, my entitled feelings, is true contentment that can only come through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the key to raising grateful kids in an entitled world.
I am so excited to be a Co-Host for #RaisingGratefulKids and be a part of the book launch. I highly recommend the book, and encourage you to click through the following blog posts on improving gratitude in your homes.
Inspiring an Attitude of Gratitude – by Alison
Raising Grateful Kids – by Amanda
Why You Can’t Buy Gratitude At The Dollar Store – by Andrea
Missing – Gratefulness in our home – by Ange
Choosing Gratitude – by Angela
Gratefulness – by chaley
5 Steps to a Gratitude-Filled Family – by Christa
Practicing Grateful Parenting – by Dana
Sing a Song – by Hannah
Cultivating gratitude in our family – by Jamie
Gratefulness In Our Home – by Jana
Let It Begin With Me – by Jen
Choosing Gratefulness – by Jennifer
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World – The Book – by Jeri
Eradicating Entitlement – What are you rooted in? – by Jessica
Gratefulness in our home – by Kate
The Problem With Entitlement is that it begins with us – by Katelyn
7 Unusual Ways I Know How to Be Grateful – by Kathryn
Raising Grateful Kids – by Keri
How My Children Remind Me to Pray with Gratitude – by Kishona
Grateful – by Kristy
Entitlement: The Ugly Truth of a Beautiful Lie – by Leigha
The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Raise Grateful Kids – by Lindsey
Dear Son: How Do I Teach You To Be Grateful Without Guilt? – by Marie Osborne
Gratitude, A Practical Definition – by Mia
Cultivating Gratitude in Our Home – by Nancy
Learning Gratitude through Chronic Illness – by Rachel
Being Grateful – by Rebecca
I’ve Found Something I Can’t Live Without – by Sarah
The Power of Naming our Gifts – by Sarah
Outfitted – by Sarah Jo
Growing Gratitude in our Family – by Sondra
Teaching Gratefulness – by Stephanie
How Grateful Looks From Here – by Alison
Fighting Entitlement in Children and All of us – by Leah
Entitlement Problem – by Karrie
Grateful Today – by Krystal