Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Entitlement

I've been really worried about how much my kids feel entitled to things lately.

Here's an example:

Last week we were lucky enough to spend some time at our friends' cabin.

Not only did we get to spend some quality time with friends we love in a beautiful place (pictures later), but our kids got to spend time with their kids who are such great examples and so fun.

We had some dreamy, relaxing days in the midst of the summer chaos, and then it was time to get back to the hustle and bustle of home.

As we started packing up I reminded my "sweet" children to pack up their stuff, bring it to the car and then to keep asking what they could do to help. I figured that little reminder would do the trick. I mean, I have trained them over and over again to be hard workers, to look for things that need to be done, to show respect to people who have taken care of them, etc. etc.

I was all prepared for them to jump to work with smiles stretched across their faces.

Well, they started a meager attempt to help. They dragged their bags downstairs and then got back to a game they were playing. I had to ask over and over for them to help clean and pack up as my illusion of how I had trained them to see what needed to be done began to dissolve.

Finally one child said to me (after my fourth help request for the same job), "mom, it's just that I'm supposed to be on vacation right now."

You can guess that that little comment made me pretty huffy to say the least. It was the catalyst to a lengthy discussion and some quick back-pedaling on that particular child's part.

But it also made me question a lot about parenting. What have Dave and I really been teaching our kids? How can we be more clear about our expectations? How can we help our children realize that the way they choose to react in certain situations now is creating habits for their future. How can we parent in a way that will help them realize they are not entitled to being waited on hand and foot.

Now I know that this is an isolated incident. I know it's not the end of the world and that this particular child really can be a good worker. But this along with a succession of other instances lately have really made me think about how entitlement can be so detrimental and how I don't want that feeling in our house.

I don't even want to touch it with a ten-foot pole.

This line of thinking, of course, always leads me to thoughts of excitement about parents' new book coming out in September called "The Entitlement Trap."

I know that Dave and I could use all the help we can get and I know this book will give us just that. Even though I have heard so much of this entitlement concept before from my parents I'm so excited to have some good, concrete methods wrapped up in a book that I can put to use to help on my quest.

I know there are so many other parents out there who want the same thing. Polls suggest that a feeling of entitlement among kids is one of the single biggest worries of parents in our society today. So I'm directing you to this link with more info. about entitlement (and a video that I'd love to talk more about because it talks about allowance and we DO have allowance...a post for another day), and to this link at Power of Moms for some details on the movement my parents are trying to start. (I want to start it with them.) There are details on how to be part of a personal webinar my parents have coming up on June 21st (and also on how to win some awesome prizes) when you pre-order the book. There is more detailed info. on how to pre-order the book and why it is an important part of the cause here.

I want to help stand up against entitlement and help our children become strong, resilient adults. And I really think that this is the first step.

I would LOVE to hear other ideas on how to stop entitlement in it's tracks because I know there are so many parents out there who are experts on this in their own right.

30 comments:

  1. I think that this is a HUGE issue for youth, and adults, today. I'm not a mother yet, but something that helped me as I was growing up was face-to-face experiences with people who had little or nothing. Growing up, my family participated in "meals-on-wheels" where we took food to elderly who were usually very poor. My parents weren't the "drop off and run" type. They stayed and chatted, giving us ample time to soak in how little some people had, but how happy they could still be. As a senior, my Christmas present was to go to Peru to work in an orphanage. Let me tell you... it was such an eye opening experience to see people who literally had nothing but the clothes on their backs. I'm definitively no saint now, but when I start falling into that "entitlement trap" I remember those elderly people, or those children in Peru. My parents took opportunities to not only tell me, but show me how not entitled I was to things.

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  2. Were you in our van this morning?

    Because I'm sure I said some of the EXACT same things to our oldest child. You know--about that I love him and am only telling him these things because I'm trying to teach him for the future to work hard and take initiative...as he sat, with huge bed head, with a dirty uniform on that I didn't notice until we had already left home. Ugggh!!

    I've been so frustrated with the same things. I feel like I shouldn't have to tell our 14 year old the things I tell our 5 year old every day. When is he going to show some responsibility in some areas that he doesn't now? I need the book!

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  3. I am a brand new mom - my daugther's only 10 months old - but I believe that this is something that you have to tackle from day one. I was also a high school teacher, and I can't begin to tell you the entitlement issues out there! Thank you so much for the info. I will absolutely look at the links you provided and I plan to buy your parents' book! What a refreshing post...despite the frustration that caused its creation. Good luck! You're doing a great job!

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  4. As I was reading your post today the song "The World Owes Me a Living" popped in my head from the old (1930's) Disney short The Grasshopper and the Ants. It tells the story of a grasshopper who believes that the world owes him a living.After his life is saved by some ants,he realizes he owes the world a living rather than the other way around.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAd0jOuQg8o

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  5. I've thought alot about this too. I remember been a child and getting new underwear and socks in my stocking, and now if they need it we just run to the mall. my 7 yr old begged and pleaded for a DSi for her birthday, she told me she was the ONLY one who didn't ahve one. So i decided to ask around, and yep, she was pretty much the only one with out one. She's now turning 8, and EVERYONE has their own ipods. I feel bad that i probably will end up getting her it, becaus i don't want her to be the 'only one' and then i know i am part of the reason kids are the way they are SOMETIMES!. I heard on a tv show last year the average parent spends approx $300 per child at christmas. But then it doesn't stop as children. I have seen soo many young marrieds EXPECTING a brand new home, new furnishings from potterybarn, beautiful decor and not the budget to pay for it... what happend to hand me down furniture and sharing a milkshake because you couldn't afford two
    (yikes, i feel like 100yrs old writing this). But the really sad thing is thaty recntly in the area where i live a General Authority has to come speak to our leaders as there were 19 couples in the midst of divorce. Some married less than a year. Two huge things i heard was talked about.. pornography and entitlement. I am just as guilty as the next, so this is a great post Shawni, i am excited to hear what others have to say, nad learn something,

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  6. I could write volumes on this entitlement issue. I have a grown son who has always felt things were owed him. It has always perplexed my husband and I. We were young parents and had 3 kids boom,boom,boom, broke but happy. We'd pay the bills and have $10 to last 2 weeks. We were happy and then here's this kid who was always disappointed with every gift he was ever given. For his 16th birthday we gave him a little box with a contact lens containter and told him he could get contacts. He tells this story ALL the time and still can't believe we did that. He thought the box contained a key to a new car. What planet was this kid living on? We didn't have that kind of money. I could go on and on! I think it all starts with wanting to give our kids more than we had a kids and I think that is a natural thing to do but golly it has gotten way out of hand. It needs to stop but HOW?

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  7. I am in the same position as you. My children are growing up completely different from the way I or my husband grew up. While I do not give my children everything they want they still are getting way more than I did without any sacrifice. I no the solution to the problem is sacrifice and service, but it is so hard implementing. I would love to take them to India like your sister-in-law and have them see how others live, but deep down in my heart I know their are plenty of service opportunities here in our own backyard. Good luck!

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  8. I think you've just spoken for most of the parents across America, if not elsewhere.
    As parents, we want our children to enjoy themselves and to have great, memorable vacations, but we also want them to know exactly what needs to be done and when.
    I have found that I have to be specific most times. For example, if I say, "Go see what needs to be done and help do it", they honestly won't see the dishes in the sink, the box of Cheerios spilled on the floor, or the blankets all over. I have to say, "Pick up and fold the blankets, help with dishes and someone clean the cereal off the floor." I also set the timer for a reasonable time limit for said chores to get done.
    I think eventually they learn to do these things in a timely manner. Hoping they will do it on thier own is kind of a fantasy. My 17 year old still needs reminding from time to time. They aren't lazy, they just can't read my mind, or feel the level of my frustration because cereal is all over the floor.
    I can't wait for your parents next book. If it's anything like the last, I'll be adding it to my home library as well.

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  9. I love that this is being brought up on your blog today. I was just having a chat with my 10 yr old about it, she was feeling very entitled this morning. :)
    I grew up in a no allowance household but a very work oriented environment. You worked hard or you didn't play. I think all kids go through the entitlement stage (from 2 yrs to 20+, right?) But we as parents need to ground them and make sure they know deep inside, (and sometimes closer to the surface) that they have to be good kids, treat others with respect, and earn their way in life. It's going to be a constant struggle until they're adults, but I think I'm up for the challenge, especially with great examples like you and your parents to help us along the way. Thanks for putting this out there!

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  10. you seem like THE coolest mom. I so need to be more like you. and, could you come teach my kids a thing or two about entitlement?? that is the NUMBER ONE fight around our house. 'mine!' 'no! mine'...oh my. thanks for all your wonderful posts and I really do hope I can be more like you.

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  11. My worry as well. I LOVED the links. We are seriously working on this in our home right now, and I can't wait to read your parents' book.

    I do, however, subscribe to "The Parenting Breakthrough"'s philosophy when it comes to allowance. We consider it a necessary part of learning how money works. Allowance will disappear when they turn 12.

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  12. I am sorry to say this ..... but I am SO glad to hear I am not on the parent island alone....

    I am a mother of 5 girls....I have adopted 2 ages 11 and 16, in the process of adopting 2 more ages 13 and 15....I gave birth to 1, she is 10. We try more than anything to show these kiddos experiences that they have missed out on...9 times out of 10 they are SO thankful....they are happy for the smallest things....BUT that 1 out 10 time...WOW...I call it Princess Syndrome...They have to earn things like vacations....C's or higher and no bad attitudes or no trip, trust me it only takes once on this one and they get it together...They have to do community chores in the house and outside the house...Whatever they take on a trip they carry and pack themselves...They will get jobs to be able to afford cell phones, they share a laptop....20 minutes youngest to oldest and Mom sets the timer! I enjoy hearing that they are the ONLY ONES that don't have things...because they normally tell me they are the ONLY ones with a Mom and Dad that teach them things and spend time with them...I am OK being the ONLY one!! I preordered the book and can't wait for more helpful ideas!!

    <3 your blog,
    Angie

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  13. We charge our children if they have been asked to pick up their things and it is not done. If they need help to keep their things cleaned and picked up then they obviously need a maid. Maids don't come in this life for free, they cost money!!! If Dad or Mom is a "maid" they we get paid. $5 a shoe, sock. $10 a book bag...maybe a suitcase...etc. This may not work for every family but our children earn every penny they get so handing it over to Mom and Dad drives them CRAZY! They hate to pay and if I have had to pick it up then I make money. WIN WIN!!!

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  14. Sometimes I point it out in other pepleKs kids... mine tend to see it in others...

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  15. Great Blog today Shawni, my kids are almost grown 18, (just graduated)and 16, i hope it's not too late. Your parents video was great, they are awesome, can't wait to read the book.

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  16. some of it is just being kids I think. I never wanted to clean up when my Mom asked or weed the yard etc....but I ended up doing it (begrudgingly). I am a responsible, hard working contributing citizen to society and I had "entitlement issues" as a teen. I agree there is certainly an entitlement attitude out there these days, but I dont think your children have it from reading your blog for over a year....they are just being kids.

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  17. I feel I struggle with this daily...and not just with my children but with my husband as well. It's so frustrating to have my own husband not try to take some of the feelings of entitlement away. I know there is a list a mile long of reasons why he does this, but it doesn't make it any better :(
    Thanks for your post!

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  18. Oh you said it perfectly! I'm so anxious for your parents book to come out. I've just spent last Saturday at the follow up Power of Moms Retreat. I was able to spend some more time with your darling, wonderful sister Saren afterwards to become a Trainer for Power of Moms. I heard your parents speak at the Park City Retreat last month about their book and I don't know if I've ever been so excited for a book to hit the shelves. You have such wonderful parents (I LOVE your mom!) and your family is definitely one to look up to. Thank you!
    I'm so ready to fight this entitlement thing!
    I think you are great!

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  19. Stop 'em now! In Corporate America, we look at all the newbies (mind you they are 22-25) as the entitled group of pesky kids we must make happy. It is a HUGE problem. It's because they all got trophies for being mediocre. Stop rewarding mediocrity! By the way, I think you're doing a great job but just a huge warning to avoid it. Part of it is making 'em work, chores, etc. - but yes - we as kids all felt entitled, the trick is to make sure it goes away!

    www.phillipspost.blogspot.com

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  20. I love hearing other's ideas on this subject. And I would love to hear your parent's insights. As for me I think small and simple day to day things that parents do help like: praying as a family and teaching our children to pray individually to our Heavenly Father and thanking him for the things that we have and realizing that they are blessings and practicing an instrument and pointing out that they reason they are getting better is because of the time and effort they put into it (this works with reading, spelling, sports,etc.), but I think it is important to verbalize the "if I work hard...then I this happens" idea.

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  21. I listened to your parents little video. So great and so true.

    I think we all struggle with this. I think parents now a days are just scared to say "NO!".

    sandy toe

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  22. I think, actually, that paying money for doing chores is actually very similar. In our house, those are things we don't pay for. I don't get paid for them and they won't get paid for them in the future when they have their own homes. Those are just duties we do no matter what ... the pay is basically just being able to live in an organized home and knowing that we all contribute. We do it a little backwards. We actually "give" them a little bit every week because we want to and they are our children, but we institute "fines" for not doing their morning chores. Whenever we ask them to help out, they have to do it. And whenever we can come up with a big extra job, we'll pay for it. It's a similar concept but we really didn't want our kids to tie doing the normal family jobs with getting paid for it, kwim? But that puts us in the "giving allowance" camp. :) Can't win! And besides, they probably still equate chores with money since we fine them for not doing chores! lol oh well. :) In the end, I don't think it's about whether you give them money or things. It's in the every day way you treat them and respond to them when they want something or you want to give them something. It's in the little mannerisms that you pass on "you're entitled to x". I have a neighbor who used to pay her son to go to school!!!! He was a troublemaker who wouldn't go to school. They have been on food stamps/welfare and it has totally given him a sense of entitlement. Everyone who helps them just contributes. We don't give our children the size of gifts that his mom does ... and yet we have way more money. I think the longer people "help you out", the more you begin to feel that they ought to.

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  23. Shawni...you are truly "entitled" to a big hug! Thanks for this!

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  24. I hope you write another book too. I don't think I could read enough from you! And I can't wait for your parents new book. I want so bad to do right for my kids :)

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  25. I have been reading your blog for a few months now, and have never commented.
    I loved the link with your sweet parents. (By the way, I saw you on BYU TV, and you and your Mother sound so much alike!) I have always thought allowance was silly, but my sister has given her kids one to try to teach them about money and it made me wonder if I was off track...until recently. I heard Dave Ramsey talk about how allowance should be given only for the extra chores that the kids choose to take on. They need to have their standard chores that they are just expected to do because they are part of the family. Then, if they want $$, they can choose from a list of extra chores to earn it.
    It sounds like your parents are in that same boat and I think I'll join them. Although, my oldest is only 6, so it might be a little while :)
    Thank you for blogging by the way. I need all the help i can get with this whole mothering thing. You are an inspiration :)

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  26. April,
    What a brilliant idea:)

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  27. FIRST OFF I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT I TRAIN WITH JENNIE NICHOLS AND HOW I DO SO LOVE THAT GIRL WITH ALL MY HEART!!!! WOW, SO ONTO THIS SUBJECT.... THIS WAS JUST A CONVERSATION WE HAD IN OUR HOUSE.. OR RATHER I HAD.. WITH TWO OF MY CHILDREN. I THINK THE CONVERSATION WENT...."I WOULD SUGGEST YOU START HELPING." "BUT MOM...... I'M THE ONE....BLAH BLAH BLAH.." IT THEN ENDED WITH...MY OLDEST SAYING "YOU ARE THE ONE THAT SHOULD BE HOULD BE THAT, I HAVE EARNED THE RIGHT TO SIT BACK AND WATCH..." TO HIS LITTLE SISTER...... AND AT THAT POINT I WENT BALLISTIC...... I HAD TO PULL ALL THREE OF MY LITTLES ASIDE AND EXPLAIN TO THEM THAT THEY HAVE EARNED NOTHING IN OUR HOUSE. THE ONLY THING THAT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO IS WAKE UP, GO TO SCHOOL, GET AMAZING GRADES, AND GET ALONG. THAT IS THEIR JOB. TO BE THE BEST KIDS AND FAMILY THEY CAN. AT FIRST THEY THOUGHT I WAS KIDDING. THEN I PUSHED A LITTLE FARTHER AND TOLD SOME STORIES OF WHEN I WAS A POLICE OFFICER... AND PUT IT STRAIGHT TO THE KIDDOS.. THE ONLY THING I "HAVE" TO DO FOR THE THREE OF THEM UNTIL THEY ARE 18... IS FEED THEM, MAKE THEM GO TO SCHOOL, KEEP THEM SAFE IN OUR HOUSE.... AND THAT IS PRETTY MUCH IT LEGALLY .... JAWS HIT THE FLOOR... AND THEY STARTED PICKING UP SHOES..... WE HAD TO HAVE THE SAME CONVERSATION THREE DAYS LATER. IT'S A WORK IN PROGRESS!!!!!!

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  28. A really interesting post. I've been really wrestling with a kind of entitlement theme recently in my work. I work with some very troubled young adults - often they've grown up in families that don't function well, or in the care of the authorities (and therefore often with several homes). The thread that runs through is entitlement - in everything. Even when we're offering something that we think of as a 'treat' (an outing or a party), there's an expectation of a reward for just being there. The prospect of having to contribute in some way is totally alien. It's much bigger than that, but that's the basic issue. It's clearly not individuals; it's something that we're causing as a society. I've just begun to ponder on this myself so found this post (and the comments so far) really timely.
    Thanks.

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  29. I just pre-ordered your parents' book, but I'm wondering if you could put the bug in their ear to make an audio version. That's really the only way I can get my husband to "read" books. Thanks for your wonderful example!

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  30. Very late comment, but I was watching the Iranian movie 'Children of Heaven' (you'll find the entire movie on youtube) yesterday and it reminded me of your anti-entitlement movement.
    That amazing movie would shame even the most entitlement-struck heart.
    I think it said everything you and your parents are trying to, and in such a heart-warming, unforgettable (and might i add: oscar nominated) way.

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