Last week I pulled into my local Lowe’s parking lot to drop off a few bags of clothes at the stationed Goodwill truck. I couldn’t see the worker, but knew someone must be there since the back of the truck was opened. There was trash everywhere – fast food bags, Big Gulp cups and the like – but I figured he must have had a busy morning receiving items and hadn’t had time to pick up the litter all around.
But then I saw him. Not coming from the bed of the truck, but in his car parked next to the truck. He was reclined all the way back in his seat, snoozing, and had only then realized I was there. He got out to grab my bags and I thought, “Now he’ll see all this trash and get it picked up.” Instead he threw my bags into the truck and promptly returned to his seat in the car.
Where is his work ethic? Why didn’t he care about how trashy it looked? Why was only the bare minimum enough?
The truth is it’s not just him, and it’s not limited to those with more menial jobs. It’s a whole generation of kids from all socio-economic backgrounds who are growing up as if the world revolves around them. Now obviously this is a generalization and doesn’t characterize every kid all the time. But the pervasive attitude of entitlement has crept in to a greater degree than we realize.
After reading The MOAT blogger and author Kay Wyma’s book Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiement to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement, my eyes were opened to all the ways we inadvertently spoil our kids and drive them to entitled living. Because we have allowed it…
- Kids are so used to things being done for them, they either fail to learn to do for themselves or complain when they have to.
- Kids are so familiar with having things given to them, they have come to expect privilege and demand special treatment.
- Kids are so accustomed to being rewarded even for little or no effort, they don’t know what it means to work hard or to go above and beyond.
- Kids are so spoiled by ease, they quit when things don’t go their way or seem to hard.
- Kids are so self-consumed, they are unwilling to sacrifice or give for the good of another.
I see where I am guilty in subtle ways such as this- I ask my kids to pick up and a few days go by and they haven’t, so I just do it for them. Well, they are smart and know if they delay long enough, I will do it. Or, what about extra credit at school- they know if they don’t make the time to study hard enough the first go around, they can just redo it for a better grade later. Or, if they forget to turn something in, miss a deadline or get in trouble, they expect mom or dad to rescue or bail them out by demanding an exception to the rules from the principal or teacher.
So we can’t place the blame solely on our kids for acting entitled when we as parents produce this type of thinking. But it’s never too late to change course and for the future of our kids, who will someday be employed, marry and raise their own familes, we must give them the tools they need to work hard through adversity by going above and beyond and putting others before themselves. Therefore, here at the house of hatton we plan to implement our own entitlement eradication experiment. I’ll let you know how it goes… in the meantime, borrowing from the words of Wyma I would love to hear what you are doing to to “equip your kids to conquer the world rather than waiting for it to serve them!”