In the fast-paced world we live in, it’s easy to get caught-up in the culture of privilege. Without thinking about our daily interactions with our kids, we can easily let the life skills that will be so valuable to them as adults easily slide. Too many times we “give them a pass” because we know they have homework, activities, and we want them to have friendship. Instead of setting them up for success teaching them how to trim the shrubs, do laundry, or clean up the kitchen, sometimes it is just easier to do it ourselves.
We tend to rationalize:
It’s just easier sometimes–rather than listening to the whining and complaining,
Or fishing smelly wet laundry out of the washer two days after our kid should have put it into the dryer,
Or finding the dried leftovers in the refrigerator with no lid,
Or discovering that the shrubs now have a buzz cut leaving no leaves in the wake and clippings strewn all over the yard.
So essentially, our kids have us trained. Rather than dealing with remnants of their failed attempts, we give them a “pass”–after all, they’re good kids, we want them to have a happy childhood, or they have so much on their plate.
But, what are we teaching our kids when this is our response?
Are we teaching them entitlement?
Are we teaching them they don’t have to do the job, or finish the job, or that someone else will always be there to clean up after them?
This past week a scenario played out in a serve-yourself-breakfast cafe that is indicative of the entitlement mentality that this generation seems to embrace. Nine cheerleaders between the ages of probably 11 and 13 were eating breakfast. While most everyone knows that at a serve-yourself cafe it is your responsibility to bus your own table, these girls proceeded to leave half-eaten bagels on their plates with spilled juice on the table. Napkins littered the floor where they sat. As they finished their meal, all the girls proceeded to gather their belongings without any attempt to clean up their mess. One girl tried to chide the others as she cleaned up her place while the remaining girls walked out of the restaurant leaving the mess behind.
What have they learned?
Entitlement. It is someone else’s responsibility to take care of their mess.
While this scenario might be an extreme, please know that as parents, we’ve all made choices that can lead to our kids feeling as though we are always there to pick up the pieces or that it is our responsibility to motivate them to accomplishment.
What parent hasn’t completed the dishes alone, helped or finished a homework assignment, or dropped what they are doing in order to shuttle a child someplace they think they need to go?
The question is how “to turn the tide” or put the “Jeanie back in the bottle” once you realize that your child’s attitude of entitlement is out of hand.
Shifting the balance from a mom and dad are responsible to the kids being responsible is not an easy feat, but it will be well worth it in the long run. Here’s some suggestions to get you started.
- Identify the areas that you think should be your child’s responsibility rather than yours.
- Get consensus with your spouse on where to begin.
- Begin small. Choose one area that you will work with your child on. For example, if your teens need encouragement helping with the dinner dishes, have a family meeting and identify the problem and the solution. Know that you will probably get some verbal push back. Again, state the new mode of operation that you expect after dinner each evening and execute. If you get whining, you know that you have an entitlement issue.
- Regardless of the amount of push back, continue to stand your ground on the issue. Don’t give in to whining or excuses.
- Try to make the change a “family” affair. Keep the time light with joking or just conversation.
- Once you’ve got one area of responsibility in place, try another and then another.
“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”
Dare you to look at the level of entitlement your tweens and teens display. Make a difference in the next generation by empowering them with self-responsibility and a sense of teamwork in your family.
“Let go…and let God”,
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