Are we raising entitled kids who feel the world revolves around them?
We are in the middle of “me,me,me entitlement epidemic”. Our kids are out of control and many of them lack basic human qualities like empathy.
Let me begin with a short story. The other day we were visiting a friend and soon after we arrived at their place the son welcomed us by the statement “My parents are doctors, what are you?” As much as I had the urge to give him a reply my husband held my hand tighter (perhaps hinting to ignore the remark as he is just a child). None the less I sat there thinking how in my days I was never-ever allowed to talk down to elders let alone the guests and here we are in a generation where parents feel ok if the child makes an easy-peasy remark to an elder because “adults are supposed to ignore it”.
Amidst all these thoughts and pat came another retort from the young one, I found him tapping on my shoulder to pay attention to what he was saying which I quote was “My father has a lot of money, do you also have money?” The question simply made me laugh and by the looks on his face he was not at all amused by that and he was expecting more than that reaction. He quickly jumped away from my side to push away my son who was apparently playing with one of his toys. And pat comes another remark “Doesn’t he have any toys at his home, why does he have to play with mine”. I noticed the great pride the parents had on their face “what a gem of a child have we made, entirely capable of taking care of his things” and yet I thought to myself so incapable of empathy.
I couldn’t help myself and more to fill in the gap I said in reply “well you have so much of money, why do you care if he plays with one of your toys”.
Some of you might think that it wasn’t nice of me to talk back to an arrogant child, the best I could have done is ignore. But in my opinion that reply was clearly called upon. The boy had already over-stepped his bounds and as a person I felt the need to shut the little entitled prick for some time as every elder in the room seemed to be ”ök” with it.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not of the school of thought that all elders deserve respect. I believe everyone deserves respect no matter a child or an elder. But I am not in favor of the generation we are raising who wear branded clothes and 500 dollar sneakers , think their parents are loaded so ultimately they own a lot a lot of cash and can behave with anyone the way they like.
I also happen to meet a family who just sent their elder son to an Ivy League college recently and the boy is just as down to earth as nothing happened and as if getting admission to an Ivy League college is an everyday affair. I do not judge people by their education but definitely, a person who got into an ivy league college is above-average smart and hardworking, some traits which make a person humble and modest.
I have always found people who are extra-ordinarily good at what they do to be self-deprecating and keeping a low-key. But the issue here is sometimes we work so hard to get all the things which we have been craving for that we over-indulge in buying things and to compensate the time which we have been missing with our kids because of our busy work schedules we bestow upon them with all the toys and whatever they name it or wish for it is granted without any second thought.
We all want to give our children the world but at what cost? Where is the end to all this? Could it happen that these good intended attitudes could backfire and lead to a snobbish or arrogant behavior and from there your child cannot look back or hear you and it might lead them astray?
Don’t get me wrong. I am also a product of this “entitled” world and we are raising our children to be entitled without our knowledge. We are living in a world of overabundance, helicopter parenting, and instant gratification and none the less with patience or attention level less than 7 secs (yep! Lesser than a goldfish, we have reduced to that).
Parents do mistake entitlement for independence and encourage kids to speak out their mind. Let’s be honest if everybody on this earth started having honest conversations we would be having relationships with trees and plants. I have nothing against honesty. Honesty is the best policy and we should encourage our children to be more honest.
But there is a fine line between speaking out your mind and keeping silence wherever needed and as much as we encourage our children in today’s age to raise their voice against something, why do not we stress more on the fact that sometimes when everybody is talking there is so much noise that we ourselves forget what we are talking about.
Why have we forgotten to tech our kids to just listen and perhaps you can learn? To just not talk unnecessarily wherever not needed? To sometimes keep your opinion to yourself when you know it can lead to disturbance or chaos?
I recently read a book from a parenting expert Amy McCready and she stresses the fact that we are in the middle of the “me, me, me entitlement epidemic”. Our kids are out of control and many of them lack basic human qualities like empathy.
Now some of you might think so what? I earn for my children and I was not able to wear a branded clothe during my childhood and today I can afford it for my child so what’s so wrong with that. Why cannot my child wear the branded clothes which I can easily afford for him/her?
The answer to this question is simple. Because entitled kids grow up to be entitled adults. So much so that they feel that the world revolves around them. They no longer can take criticism for their work or personality, they are hard to live with, they are mostly unhappy because their expectations are way too high and they seem to live in a fairy world where they can boss around throwing tantrums at their whims and fancy.
Sadly enough the world is no bed of roses and life doesn’t work that way. You sometimes need to deal with lot of negativity around you and even sometimes hear to other people’s opinion how much so ever it might be opposing to your own principles because that’s how you grow. Without something dragging you out of your comfort zone you are nothing. You only grow when you challenge yourself and that’s not easy if you feel entitled.
So what can we do to get our children off this train heading to a no-stop station which just goes high and high?
Trim Down the Luxuries:
Communicate with your child very clearly that whatever they own are privileges (not food or shelter, I am talking about rooms filled up with toys and cupboards crashing down with branded shoes and clothes.) Adopt a minimalism approach while buying toys. My child has a very limited number of toys which we keep rotating , once in a while when the child gets bored of the toy he has right now gets replaced with another one form the cupboard (not from the toy store).
He knows very well that toys are something very valuable and he only gets it on some occasions or his birthday. Similarly we have an approach for his clothes, I feel my child has not done anything substantial that he deserves designer or absurdly costly clothes or shoes in his wardrobe, so whenever there is some sale or offer, we get him few essentials.
One main reason for this approach is that children outgrow from their clothes very fast and we don’t want to create more clutter or waste money unnecessarily.
Praise but know when to stop:
Time for another story. Last year when I was visiting my parents my sister had also come down from the country down under with her family , I was so excited to see them and opened up my bags to show them their gifts which I bought. As soon as I handed over the nicely-smelling-new jacket to my 5 year old nephew, he instantly threw it on the floor shouting “I don’t need your stupid gifts”. I was taken aback as to what happened and expected parents to intervene and talk some sense to the child. Instead my sister smirked and told me to ignore it.
To my dismay, my father was also coddling the child on what a great “Australian accent” he carries just 5 mins after the incident. And this was a man who would stop my every wrong behavior as a child and communicate very clearly to me that talking down to elders will not be acceptable under any circumstances.
I stood there confused whether I was the one who did something wrong or why doesn’t anybody notice the tone of the child?
We do praise our children a lot. We live in a age where kids are given participation trophies just to make them “feel good” about themselves. Disappointment or sadness is a very important emotion. A child should feel it. As a parent it is not our duty to protect them from every emotion or heartbreak. A child needs to learn some things on their own.
Are we going to be there when his boss is going to yell him around? Or when there is no time to make dinner but he needs to haphazardly put something up for the children for their dinner.
I recently watched a beautiful movie named inside out and it speaks of how some great memories are made when we are sad. The things which we feel as a child can make or break us. But at least give them the chance to prove themselves.
I have written a blog earlier about how our upbringing can affect our decision-making skills as an adult, please do check it out.
A little responsibility goes a long way:
I recently read a blog from Sadhguru ji and he talks about how not discipline but responsibilities can bring our children on the right track. He talks about handing them over our salary (of course it goes without saying that you could keep some reserve cash as you both are new to this experiment and don’t know how it could turn out to be) and let them decide on how to run the house for a month.
There are many subjects in school but how to live your life happily being content with whatever you have nobody teaches for the simple reason that nobody is leading that life and everybody is trying to figure out. In the famous Novel of Mark Manson says if you have a problem there is a good chance that a lot of other people in this world have it too.
So in crux, hand them over some responsibilities because that is the only way to teach them that actions have consequences. I had very protective parents and as a result when I grew up the world was very different to what I thought and only through that pain I was able to construct some principles or ideology for myself. We all have opinions and thoughts and ideologies , we just need to figure it out through great pain. And if you haven’t figured out yours then you are just one in the crowd.
Staying relevant is tough and it is going to be tougher in the coming ages. So we need to teach our children to think not only for themselves but also for the society because what goes around comes back around.
I have always said parenting is difficult but we signed up for this. It takes great efforts to raise a child , even greater efforts to raise a good child who turns out to be a boon to the society. So parents don’t sit back and relax , let’s put in some efforts for a better generation tomorrow.
Hope you liked my article, please comment and let me know.
Merrin is a SAHM, a mother of a highly energetic boy and we live in the city of World’s Tallest Skyscraper. Every child is different but as parents, our struggles are very much similar. So let’s share our stories with each other and enjoy the joyful ride.
I hope through this we can share laughter, empowerment and more experiences with each other.