I frequently hear frustration from parents regarding how entitled their children are. They expect all of the privileges that their family and life have to offer without having to exert any effort of their own in the process. They just can’t seem to understand why this happens. As I dig a little deeper, I learn that their kiddo has the newest cell phone, as all of their friends do and we don’t want them to feel inferior, so “Of course we bought them that new car. That’s what good parents do.” When I inquire as to what their child’s contribution was, I often get blank looks and a response along the lines of, “nothing; we want them to be available to see their friends and enjoy their childhood.” This reveals a wealth of information.
If we continue down this path, entitled children grow up into entitled adults and your child’s future spouse will be less than thrilled with what you have created. But Dr. Charles Fay suggests four steps that you can take to help change your child’s thinking and I want to briefly adapt two of them here and the following two in the next blog.
1) We can encourage our child to take positive risks. This could be trying out for a sport, applying for a job, or running for a class office. While there is a chance they may not get the spot there is no danger in this risk. They are learning a real-life skill and they have the opportunity to experience success that they have earned.
2) Entitled children need to learn to struggle, whether with academics or a relationship. They will learn that perseverance can be empowering.
Risk and struggle are not items to be feared. Our children don’t require protection from them. Instead they can most certainly benefit from engaging with them while they still have the safety net of loving parents around. Try these first two steps. Sure you are likely to get resistance, but with persevere and you may benefit as well.