Little Discussed Danger Harming Our Kids (And It’s Our Faults)
Talking with food in your mouth: Check
Playing with matches: Check
Taking candy or anything else from strangers: Check
Living with a sense of entitlement: Huh? Well, maybe. Uh, probably not.
Let’s face it. Many of us are still relatively fortunate, even with the economy being so poor at the moment. Yeah, sure, we may have had to cut back significantly from our luxury items (road trips instead of cruises, renting movies for free from the library instead of going to the theater every weekend, eating the occasional hot dog instead of the gourmet steak we would prefer on family night), but the reality is that even though most of us are looking more critically at our expenditures, there are people in this country and around the world who would give their right arms to live the lives we complain about with such frequency.
And our kids? Well, with so much less world history and awareness being taught in schools, they don’t have a hope of becoming conscientious, compassionate global citizens without us, their parents, leading by example. My daughter routinely asks, “What are they going to bring me?” when I tell her that this friend or that relative is coming over for a visit. I cringe because I know what “entitled” teenagers are like, and the last thing I want is for her to be one of them, begging for the latest gadget because the one she has is oh so embarrassing to use in front of her peers.
We may wonder if there are any real dangers associated with living with a sense of entitlement. After all, don’t we work like we do to give our kids what they want and need? Yes, we do, but when our kids think that they have the right to any and every thing that they desire (and that visitors must pay a pseudo poll tax as a prerequisite for entering the house), they need us to step in and check that understanding. There are many people who literally have nothing and are much more deserving than any of us, and it is our duty to teach our kids about their roles in service to those less fortunate.
The dangers are real, for do we really want our kids living in a society where everyone is selfish, discourteous, and cold? And for all of the cynics out there, no, the world isn’t like this now, it’s just becoming more and more this way. We must stop, reassess how we live, and what that lifestyle is really teaching our kids.
Here is a short list of ways to ground our kids (and maybe even ourselves):
- Donate: We probably have stuff clogging up closets, basements, and attics that could be used by others. Instead of sifting through this stuff around Christmas time (to ensure this year’s tax write-off) while the kids are with the grandparents for a few days, get the whole family involved at least twice a year to identify clothes, toys, books, and sports equipment that can do some good for someone else. I’ve had a lot of success with my girls (ages 3 and 4), and they seem to embrace the idea of sharing with kids who don’t have any toys or books of their own.
- Feed the Homeless:With the economy being so bad, many people have lost their homes and are forced to turn to shelters for assistance. We can call a shelter asking for days and times when they might be short-staffed and need volunteers. It won’t cost us anything but time, and our kids might be a bit less inclined to refuse left-overs again.
- Volunteer at an Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Home: Our elderly are often forgotten when we think about charitable endeavors, but so many of them have families who rarely (or even never) visit. An hour visit, reading the paper, talking about the old days, playing chess with them, could really make their day. Check with the nursing facilities in your area about appropriate times and volunteer opportunities.
- Participate in a walk-a-thon: Many cities all around the country host walk-a-thons to raise money for this or that charity. Have your kids research some that might mean something to them, and get them involved. If your child is on a sports team, try to get the coach involved for a team-wide effort.
- Start a coin drive: Speak with the officials at your child’s school about raising money for an association that benefits schools in need. We all have loose change in old purses, under couch cushions, or in used water bottles. Have the kids make flyers and posters and collect money as parents drop off their kids in the mornings or pick them up after school.
Remember, it’s our job to create the world in which we want our kids to live and strive. If you can think of other ways to get kids thinking compassionately about others, please share them in the comments section.
This post made me think about my past, and how I raised my ‘kids’ (9 of them, off and on, over the years – only one my biological child). But mostly how I was raised (which trust me, was a horror).
Thing was: you had to work for EVERYTHING. Sometimes it was stated, sometimes not: you are doing what you do to contribute to the family, the group, the ‘tribe’. It’s to earn your keep; your bread and butter, clothes, roof overhead and soap to wash your face.
And that was pointed out to me in some rather harsh ways sometimes. “What have you done for US? What have you done to earn better?”
Failure to ‘do your chores’ could earn you just bread and water. “After all,” my parents informed, “We aren’t legally required to do more than cloth you, feed you, put a roof over your head, and take you to the doctor when you need to. NOTHING ELSE. Everything above and beyond that is just gravy to you. So DO IT.” (whatever ‘it’ was).
It made quite an impression on my young mind. Gifts only came on birthdays and Christmas – and never more than four or five of them. If you wanted more – you worked for it. Little jobs for little kids, big ones for big ones. And it worked. I’ve always been rated by others as having a good work ethic, show up on time, and earn my keep (tho’ disability has affected that some).
Too many kids ARE handed TOO MUCH in my opinion – my grandkids ‘expect’ to just be handed a cell phone when they are 8 to 10 because “all the other kids have them”. I corrected that for their dad (he is a bit simple and sweet-hearted) – showing them the bill, I said: if you can pay it, you can have it. It certainly is not free. They stopped asking, amazed. Ditto correcting the older one’s statements at costs: He’d say “oh, $40! That’s not bad!”. Until I asked him where he was going to get $40. Demanded that he pay. He paled then. (I was just joking.) BUT – when I told him I would pay him based upon an hourly wage – and he found $8/hr working HARD digging clay and hauling it in a wheelbarrow – he gained a whole new respect for the all-mighty dollar – and said he never worked so hard in his life for something. Later he said it was the best purchase that he made – and he treasures and cherishes that thing he worked for a WHOLE lot more than anything else he owns (at this time, LOL!! You know little children).
Great post in that you address an issue which as the “I’m entitled” and “You owe me” are coming home to roost. With this thought in mind, you should address some of those parents think a child’s ego is so frail they never punish the child (teaching consequences) and tell them how good they are – in everything. Leads to some pretty unrealistic expectations when they arrive in the World, lol! Enjoyed this.
Yeah, this whole idea that you are good (or even great) at everything is a total shock to some kids’ systems when life smacks them with reality. I’ve taught AP English for 8 years, and for many of those students, it’s the first time they’ve earned a grade other than an A. Their excuse for “deserving” an A is “I’ve done all my work,” “I’ve never been a behavioral problem,” “I’ve been here everyday,” etc. These things are just the minimum and don’t guarantee anything. What’s worse, though, is when the parents send these snarky notes from home decrying my methods and berating me because “Johnny never needed extra supports before, so it must be you.” Parents do it in everything, too: soccer games, kindergarten graduations (which are utterly ridiculous to me), and prom (many parents spend thousands, yes thousands, of dollars on it). It’s crazy. You’re right, though, when they “arrive in the World,” the proverbial shit will hit the fan.
I saw a “Rant” in our local paper (Augusta GA) where a parent was complaining that the teacher’s weren’t doing their job – that the students were disrespectful, wore disgraceful dress (pants hanging down), misbehaving ad nauseum – and ranting “what are we paying them for?” I found that attitude extremely distasteful – because that’s what PARENTs are for! Teachers are for teaching, not to mention – I’m sure you know how a parent will hit the roof if you try to address moral issues or how they dress or ‘behave’ with them – because it reflects on the own parent’s parenting and behavior. I still say Teachers get a bum’s rush – and the students, too, in the end when they find they get out there and haven’t the skills to do anything but manual labor or a minimum wage job. Then the students blame YOU, too – when it was their own choice all along, guided (or unguided) by those parents. It’s a lose-lose situation.
I LOVE to teach and am a great tutor (or so I’ve been told by both adults and kids). But only one-on-one tutoring. I couldn’t do what you do. LOL – I’m crazy enough as it is! You’ve got my sympathy – and my congratulations, too, because teaching is a thing I respect. Some of my teachers help form my life, views, and opinions – and forever earned my respect and gratitude towards them. Oddly enough it was usually the ‘odd, eccentric or “mean” teachers – who were just fair and demanding we try – that I have the most fondest memories and love for.