02 Apr Parent’s lack of Backbone may lead to Children’s Entitlement Demands
A sense of entitlement, which is the polar opposite of a sense of responsibility, is endemic among many of the 1st World’s children today.
It is fostered by our demanding, narcissistic society wherein wants are confused with needs and everyone seems focused on the notion that he deserves what everyone else has. Gone are the days when kids expected to have to work for something.
Too many youth grow up in a reality-show world, thinking of themselves as the central character on the stage. They have their own Facebook page, twitter account, and insta-gram followers. They’re “famous”, and in their own minds, there is neither room nor need for emotional empathy, self examination, or personal responsibility. There isn’t much incentive or motivation to learn to work. They have all the accolades without genuine effort, and over-indulging parents provide everything else.
This learned behavior entitles them to think they should have no limits, boundaries or discipline.
By not saying “no” and by giving them what they demand, parents become the ultimate enablers.
In their book “Living in the Age of Entitlement, the Narcissism Epidemic,” Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell explain it this way:
“It is increasingly common to see parents relinquishing authority to young children, showering them with unearned praise, protecting them from their teacher’s criticisms, giving them expensive automobiles and allowing them to have freedom but not the responsibility that goes with it. Not that long ago, kids knew who the boss was—and it wasn’t them. It was Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad weren’t your “friends.” They were your parents.”
Then, Twenge and Campbell hit on the true causes of entitlement:
“The change in parenting is driven by the core cultural value of self-admiration and positive feelings. Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval.”
As our lives get busier and busier, as both parents work, and as the disconnect grows greater between what we say our priorities are, and where we actually spend our thought and energy, we parents tend to give our children things instead of time, spoiling them as we add fuel to the entitlement flame.
Dan Kindlon, in his book “Too Much of a Good thing,” puts it simply:
“We give our kids too much and demand too little of them.”
Kindlon goes on to argue that when kids are overindulged, it leads to outcomes resembling the seven deadly sins: pride, wrath, envy, sloth, gluttony, lust and greed.
How widespread is this sense of entitlement among kids? Widespread enough that every parent seems to have a close-to-home example of it.
Best-selling authors Linda and Richard Eyre have written over a dozen books on parenting. When they asked for examples of child entitlement, their inbox was flooded. Personal “testimonials” poured in for days. The stories ranged from kids’ funny ideas about “what’s what” and “who does what” to “demands so extreme they were almost humorous.” Here are just four out of the hundreds they received:
1. “I’m a 40-something professional from the Midwest. Recently, I had been gone from my family for a week and was greeted by my 10-year-old son with a big hug. That night at dinner after a catch-up session about things that had happened while I was gone he quietly brought up something he had obviously planned quite carefully. “Mom, you’ve been gone a long time and you missed my band concert. How about buying me the new Wii game to make up for it?””
2. “My 9-year-old came up to me the other day and said, “I have to have a credit card…or a cellphone. At least one of them.”
3. “Our 8 year-old son was aghast when we suggested he might have to work to earn some money to replace the neighbor’s window that he had broken while throwing rocks. “You’re my mom; that’s the kind of thing you are supposed to take care of.”
4. “A few weeks ago, I was shopping with my 4-year old who saw something he ‘really wanted.’ He got upset when I said “no” and angrily asked me why I wouldn’t buy it for him. My response was, ‘because I don’t want to spend the money on that.’ He frowned, growled at me and said, ‘Fine, then you just give me the money and I’ll pay for it.”
Parents, when “We give our children too much and demand too little of them,” they may grow up to be entitled spoiled-rotten adults…then, if we don’t deal with them, society will have to.