Entitlement has been the topic of the summer for me as I deal with my own issues as well as those of my young children. We live in an entitled society where “have it your way” has become a personal motto for most people and where “me first” isn’t just something your two-year-old demands.
But as I have mentioned before, we don’t deserve anything, and if we want to teach our children how to follow Christ, then that means lessons in self-denial, contentment, and living a life of humility–something we have to be intentional about. The world is only going to teach them the opposite.
I don’t have all the answers. My kids beg for stuff every time we go to the store just like yours. I throw pity parties on a regular basis. But here are a few lessons I’m learning as a mom.
Stop indulging them with the material.
I’ve learned that when I bring home trinkets for my kids–even from the dollar bin at Target–they come to expect them. My husband learned this lesson the hard way when he caved to the kids’ request for popcorn and slushies at the Target Cafe. Bless his little heart. He thought that was something I always did 🙂 So, now, every time he comes with us to Target, the girls ask for popcorn and slushies. Smart cookies, but their Daddy’s no dummy either.
When children receive more and more and suddenly you stop giving, they become sullen, confused, even angry. “Why isn’t Mommy buying stuff for me any more?” they wonder. They think they are supposed to have those things, that they’re entitled. That’s when ingratitude and discontent creep in. I’ve seen kids who have been given so much that they show absolutely zero gratitude when you give them a gift. And why would they? They’ve already got it!
Kids don’t need any more stuff, so just stop it!
Instead, indulge them with the immaterial.
Forego the bubble gum and crayons, and shower them with your love instead. Give them hugs, kisses, and lots of time. Listen to their silly jokes. Play hide-and-seek with them. Show them that toys and goodies are nothing compared to your love.
This might be a tough one for you if you‘re a gift giver, but remember that the gifts you give don’t have to be things you buy. Take your kids to the park, make cookies with them, have a pajama day and snuggle up with some books. Indulge them with your love.
Instill in them a strong work ethic.
My husband and I were both blessed with hard-working parents who still run circles around most people. That work ethic seems to be missing in so many children these days. Why? Because parents are no longer teaching their children the value of hard work.
Many children and young adults today have no sense of responsibility. If they want something, it’s simply handed to them. While parents naively believe they’re giving their children a better life than they had, ultimately, what they’re doing is creating dependent, lazy, entitled children who will never be able to finish college or hold down a real job. These are the kids who come back home to live with you when life is too hard.
We have to start teaching our kids right now how to work. Sure it’s easier when they’re young, but even if they’re older, start giving them chores, even if it’s just to make their own beds and put away their own clothes. I haven’t always done a good job of this because honestly it’s faster for me to sweep the floors myself. But with three children–and constantly dirty floors–I’m realizing I can do 1 of 3 things: (1) work myself to death keeping them clean, (2) let them stay dirty, or (3) “employ” our children. The training is a doozie, but I’m sure the dividends will be well worth it.
Whether you compensate your children or not is up to you; the point is that children need to be taught that: “We are family and we work together for the good of the family.” A house where the children play and mommy and daddy do all the work is imbalanced. Whatever the ages of your children, start instilling a work ethic in them today!
To give you some ideas, here’s a great chore chart:
|The Happy Housewife|
Find opportunities to serve.
Serving others is the perfect way to teach your children humility and gratitude. When our kids begin to act “entitled,” they need to know that everything they have is a gift from God, and He expects us to use our talents, resources, and abilities for the good of others, to His glory, not for themselves.
48 From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
One of our family goals is to serve wherever we can “with humble hearts and willing hands.” Even young children can serve. Recently, our church youth group of children ages 2-8 created a poster for a church we help support. It was a very small gesture, I know, but an opportunity nonetheless to teach our children to think outside themselves. With a little paint, some markers, and lots of smiles, those children took part in serving people they may never meet, but who, Lord willing, will be encouraged by their efforts.
Sometimes we think church has to be all about having fun and entertainment, but it isn’t. Find ways to serve others; that’s real fun.
Other service project ideas you can do with your children:
- Bake cookies to take to a women’s shelter.
- Visit a nursing home and sing to the residents.
- Make homemade cards to take to a widow or shut-in.
- Look around at your neighbors. Could you rake leaves, pick up trash in their yard, take them veggies from your garden?
- Go to a local homeless shelter and serve as a family.
- As a family pray for people who you know are struggling. When you see those people, your children may just tell them they’ve been praying for them. What a great evangelistic tool!
- Take toys to the police station or the Salvation Army.
- Bag up canned goods to take to the Food Bank or other local pantry.
- Take flowers to a sick friend in the hospital.
When you serve with your kids, they will begin to see the needs of others and anticipate meeting them. They will start to pray for people other than themselves. They will want to give their money to people they see hurting. They will stop asking for toys and trinkets for themselves and instead start sharing what they have with others.
Whatever we do, Moms, we need to be teaching our children to think outside themselves, to look for opportunities to help those around them, so that one day they won’t need our prodding. They will simply see a need and meet it. Isn’t that a beautiful goal for our children?
Show them contentment.
As we all know, children mimic what they see, not what they hear. To raise humble, content children, we must be humble, content parents. When our kids hear us whining about not having money for X, they hear discontent. When they see us spending inordinate amounts of time looking in the mirror, they see arrogance and pride. But when we model contentment–-when we smile at the good and the bad in our lives–our children see that they too can have joy and be happy with their situations.
More is not better, no matter what the world says. We need to be like Paul, content in whatever situation we face:
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
When we are content, our children will themselves learn to find the positives even in the negative.
Moms, we are at war. The world is bombarding us with false messages, telling us that we need to give our children more, the best, the most expensive because they deserve it. What are we doing to defeat those messages? Or are we listening and falling prey?
What are you doing today to battle entitlement in your own children? What’s your advice?
Praying God’s blessings on you,
Linking up to these lovely parties.