[View original article published in Psych Central here]
A 10-year-old girl stomped out of the bathroom when her mom told her she would need to clean the mess she had made after her shower. She told her mom, ”You’re the mom. It’s your job!”
A 6-year-old boy went to the grocery store with his mom. He noticed a treat he wanted. His mom explained that they had other treats at home and that she wasn’t going to buy it. He answered, “Well, if you don’t want to buy it, then just give me the money and I’ll buy it.”
A 16-year-old girl was angry at her parents for not letting her take the family car with her friends to another state for the weekend. She told them, “If you really loved me, you would let me go!”
Does this sound familiar? The pressure you feel from your children may cause you to feel confused and insecure about your parenting. Often parents wonder if their kids will still love them when they try to hold them responsible for their actions. They hesitate when their children reject working for their wants. If you are doubting yourself, don’t worry. Here are some suggestions that guarantee their love and attention but will also warrant entitlement. The choice is yours.
- Set a personal example. Be sure to have every “latest and greatest” gadget. Your children need to know that if you want it, you’ll find a way to get it, regardless of whether you can afford it. Don’t explain the difference between needs and wants. Complain about never having enough and be ungrateful for what you do have. Talk about the next big thing, who already has it, and how you have to have it.
- Be your children’s buddy. You need to be your children’s best buddy to maintain a friendly and close relationship with them. You may remember how antiquated your parents were about demanding respect and asking you to work hard for what you wanted. If you say “no” or “not now,” your children could get over it, but don’t take any chances. Do what they want to gain their acceptance at all costs.
- Lack a work ethic. Postpone teaching work ethic to young children. Life is too hard for them already. If you put them to work and they complain, let them slide. If they forget a school assignment, do it for them. They need their sleep, and you want them to have good grades. You don’t want them to feel embarrassed. If kids don’t learn to make the connection between work and rewards, don’t worry. They can learn this later in life. Don’t hold them responsible. Allow them to blame someone else when they get in trouble. Let someone else teach them to connect those dots. It’ll be your legacy.
- Give them things, not time. One parent commented, “We are too busy working. I think our kids know we love them because we are trying to give them everything they need and want. We are making great sacrifices to give them what we never had.” Kids will love that culture in your family. Kids will learn to appreciate things and money more than time spent with the family. It’ll be quiet at your home most likely as they busy themselves with their own gadgets in their rooms with the door shut. When you feel guilty about your parenting, make sure you overcompensate by giving them what they want.
- Stay away from serving in your community and with the needy. By all means, do give money to charity. You can always do this. It will save you time and will keep your guilty conscience in check. Serving in the community and helping people throughout the year is too time-consuming. Children who serve and help those with disabilities may be too shocked and scared about seeing how the “other half” lives. They don’t need to see it, as it doesn’t apply to them.
- Teach them that they don’t have to wait for what they want. It is well documented that we live in a society where everybody wants everything easy, and wants it right now! Your children may not appreciate what they have, but at least they’ll appreciate you for keeping them up to date with the latest. Children don’t have to learn that things worth having are things worth waiting for. They’ll learn that later. When they move out and start their own life, they will experience stress, debt and disappointment. Protect them now and provide a stress-free childhood. It’ll be your way of showing them you love them.
Yes, it is challenging to raise kids in today’s entitled society. However, if you can relate to some of these situations, perhaps it’s time to start making changes. Remember that every behavior has a consequence and this also applies to parenting. Help your children understand that “hard” is good and that “waiting” is okay.
Stay the course. You’ll eventually see good results. Some day your kids will thank you.