We hear a lot about entitlement these days, don’t we? We often hear about how Millennials are entitled; and, being a Millennial myself, I am quite sensitive to how we are viewed. Most things I hear about my generation have a negative suggestion to them, which really bothers me because it’s not true of all of us. I don’t like being judged by merely my age. However, with that said, I have to admit I can see areas of my life where I do feel entitled. For example, I feel like my technology should always work… I can get furious pretty quickly if my printer won’t print for no apparent reason or if my phone isn’t connecting to a network that I KNOW is there! I don’t think this is just a Millennial problem though. I think it’s an American problem.
Why do fast food restaurants exist? Why were self-checkout lines created? Why is there an app for EVERYTHING? Why is there always a new iPhone to upgrade to? It’s because we don’t like to wait, we want the latest, the greatest, and the fastest– now. So our society has made detours around waiting. A friend of mine recently framed it this way: We give up true service, and often face-to-face connection, for the sake of speed. We deny the interaction with people at the register who will handle the scanning, the coupons and the bagging FOR us. We’d rather do it ourselves and move on to the next place we’re already at in our minds. We’re always thinking ahead about the next part of our day and we end up ghosting through the present. But now I digress.
So how does a generation that’s been labeled entitled go about raising the next generation well? I got started thinking about all of this because of the topic of last week’s God Centered Mom podcast. Heather & her guests had some very profound things to say about all of this. One thing that’s sticking with me is that our kids aren’t the only ones who struggle with being entitled. As PARENTS we feel entitled to have children who are well behaved and godly! We feel like something’s wrong when we need to correct our kids over and over, rather than saying, “Wow, this is an area where I can partner with Christ to guide my child back to the Father.” Life is a journey, why do we think it should be easy? It’s a journey for us and it’s a journey for our kids too. We are all separate people figuring this all out as we go. Parenthood is a gracious rescue. We need to show our kids some grace.
BUT! Too much “grace” would lead to entitlement, right? Are there any red flags that pop up when you think about how your child might be entitled already? I have a good example… When Zeke was only about 14 or 15 months old I started noticing that he would crawl up onto the couch to watch a TV show and as soon as his little diapered butt hit the couch cushion he would start yelling, “NACK! NACK!” out to me in the kitchen. He couldn’t even speak actual English yet and already he was feeling like he deserved a snack just because he was settling in for a show. After a number of times of this happening I started feeling really disrespected by it and that’s when I started teaching him to say, “please,” and also, I’m making sure I don’t give my kids snacks every time they watch a TV show.
I think the line between serving your family and spoiling them into entitlement is a very fine one. My whole life I watched my mom serve our family with such love. Her servant’s heart is definitely something I inherited. If I’m not careful, my kids will start to believe that I exist to make them happy at all times. I need to let go of any guilt, or even dread, I may start feeling about making them bring their dishes over to the kitchen after meals or having them stop what they’re doing to clean up the last thing they were into. I am often likely to excuse them from things like that because it’s easier and faster (and cleaner!) if I just do it myself or I feel like it’s not worth the fight and the tantrum that may meet my request.
Pushing through the difficulties of getting my kids to join me in keeping the house tidy and helping them learn to be somewhat self-sufficient at a young age, will only build their character faster. It will help them become young people who are aware, helpful and kind. I’ve got to do the work now to create success for tomorrow. So be thinking about areas of your life where you may be unintentionally teaching your kids to be entitled. And also, watch how you respond to things you feel entitled to because your kids are absorbing everything they see you do.
I encourage you to listen to The Entitlement Fix episode on God Centered Mom! It’s loaded with lots of great things to think about!