As generations continue to develop, grow and mature, a noticeable trend of entitlement is also growing at an alarming rate, sweeping the nation’s youth. In a technological-driven society, today’s kids are prematurely exposed to adulthood, yet do not accept the terms and conditions which adulthood demands. Today, economic class no longer determines which kids are fed by a silver spoon or not because so many parents, regardless of income, are ensuring their children’s every happiness.
Kids expect to be treated like adults, but fail to actually act like an adult. But who’s allowing them to be treated this way? Kids need to be kids. While kids deserve fundamental rights- basic needs, love and nurture, they also require to be disciplined, led, and equipped for life. In a culture where so many children feel entitled, I couldn’t help but wonder, what has happened to kids today?
It is no surprise that the generations who survived the Great Depression, fought in World War II, and persevered during the Civil Rights Movement view today’s youth as ungrateful, spoiled, and entitled. While our grandparents were raised to understand the meaning of character, parents today are raising their children to understand the meaning of comfort.
My Grandmother grew up in a time where kids spent their childhood preparing meals, cleaning, caring for younger siblings, and even working outside the home, if lean financial circumstances demanded this of them. Meanwhile, kids today are equipped for receiving handouts and are often only motivated to do something if it advances their selfish gain. But are kids the culprit of their entitlement?
“You know what makes me sick to my stomach? When I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything. We’ve changed as adults. We demand less of our kids. We expect less of our kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the ones that have changed.” -Frank Martin, S.C Head Basketball Coach
Even though our culture has changed from what it was 50 years ago, which makes parenting arguably more challenging in certain ways today, we can’t deny the logical fact that kids have always been born with the same innate, child-like instinctive behavior. Kids are kids. All kids want things, but it’s the parents who set the expectations.
We (the parents) have changed. We have evolved into these passive disciplinarian enablers who have allowed society to shape our parental convictions, define our essence of parenting, and even make our decisions for us. My husband commonly references a quote to his football coaches that perfectly correlates to parenting: “The actions you see are either taught or allowed.”
We teach or allow our children to be self-focused, ungrateful, tech junkies who have no concept of real perspective, personal sacrifice or work ethic
Entitlement is a learned behavior. As parents, we are either fostering their entitlement or we are fostering their character. The greatest disservice we can do to our children is give them everything and require nothing. Sometimes, the love for our children drives us to want to give them every opportunity and every luxury, and remove any shred of pain or struggle. In doing so, we feed into their entitlement and starve their character.
50 years ago, my dad sat before a plate of sauerkraut until it was time for bed. The next morning, my Grandmother sat the same cold plate in front of him because she was upholding the rule at the dinner table: you eat whatever you are served without complaint. Let’s be honest, we don’t even hold our children accountable to finish their dinner anymore. In fact, we accommodate them by preparing meals we know they will eat, so we can avoid the conflict altogether.
We have been so indoctrinated to believe it is our responsibility to ensure our children’s happiness. In doing so, other children become the standard by which we determine our parental decisions, rather than choosing what is in the best interest for our family. Your ten-year old’s friends all have a Facebook account, so why shouldn’t yours? Your eight-year old’s friends got iPhones for their birthdays, so yours should have one too. Perfectly logical, right? It’s parental peer pressure!
As parents, we have no obligation to provide these kinds of privileges. Too few kids today understand the profound correlation between responsibility and rights. We tend to fly past the responsibility part and skip ahead to handing out the rights- the rewards. Our children do not even have to prove they are mature enough to handle their privileges before we pass them out. And yet, we still wonder…what has happened to our kids?
Entitled kids do not only become dysfunctional members of society, but diluted Christians
As parents, our primary responsibility is to disciple our children, not entitle them. Understanding our Father’s Heart is the first step in how we are to teach our children accordingly. Our Lord desires for His children to be servant-leaders, humble, diligent, and hard-working.
By raising entitled children, we lead them astray from who God calls us to be as His children. It is up to us- the parents- to train our children in the way they should go, to resist the temptations to feed into their earthy desires, and live a life that is truly pleasing to God.
So what is wrong with kids today? It’s us. Parents who teach or allow their children how to be ungratefully entitled, rather than be a humble servant for God.
Our Savior did not live a comforting, entitled life when He walked the earth. Jesus didn’t demand for His disciples to wash His feet -He washed theirs. He humbly carried out the Father’s will, even unto the cross, where He suffered in our place as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Sacrifice is the complete opposite of entitlement. And that is the life God has called us and our children to- not entitlement- but living sacrifices.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship.” -Romans 12:1
The Humble Homemaker