How does a parent raise an "entitled" child? Especially since no parent intends to. Are you aiding and abetting entitled children? What does that mean exactly?
Aid and Abet. To assist another in the commission of a crime by words or conduct. The person who aids and abets participates in the commission of a crime by performing some Overt Act or by giving advice or encouragement.
OKAY! So can entitlement be a CRIME? Huhhhh...could be. Look at it this way, Entitlement is invading nearly every aspect of today’s culture, which means Christian families aren’t immune from its influence. In fact, if you aren’t proactive, it’s almost a given you’ll raise an entitled child, who grows up to be an "entitled" adult. (That's a sobering thought.) So is it a crime? Maybe not. But entitlement can be devastating to the child and the parent and it's definitely not a desirable achievement.(Who wants to have another narcissistic, Donald Trump?)
Just how much do parents contribute to the entitlement cause? Are parents aware when they are aiding and abetting entitled children? Entitlement develops when a child is given too much, too soon, but many parents don’t realize entitlement is also bred in more subtle ways. Some lethal. Could you accidentally be raising an entitled child, without knowing you are aiding and abetting? Let me suggest some parental actions that can lead to entitlement.
During my era, children were taught to be seem not heard. Not the best approach, but it did teach us not to interrupt or jump into adult conversation without an invitation to speak... unless there was a true emergency. I had the occasions to be in the home of a few of my adult friends, where the kids would come in to the room of adults and jump into the conversations. Granted, this may have been an informal meeting, but still, the parents said nothing. I can't speak for the other adults, but I certain was uncomfortable. I had to bite my lips to keep from saying something as the parents displayed their inability to regain control.
This innocent parental mistake holds consequences if not addressed. Kids who don’t learn respect for other people’s time, conversations, or physical space, are essentially being taught “the world revolves around them.” When life becomes child-centered, kids become me-centered. Kids who aren’t taught to wait for their turn—whether on the playground, or in the living room—are on the path to becoming entitled.
Is it important to give our kids undivided attention? Of course! At appropriate times. There is a distinct different in having engaging children and those that are entitled. Teaching a child to be engaging and not entitled, can begin with a few simple steps. First, explain the importance of waiting to speak until others finish in any setting. Interrupting gives an impression that what you have to say is more important than what the person who is speaking has to say. If a child interrupts you in mid-conversation with another adult and you address their need before finishing your sentence, you have put them above you.
You could also teach them some quiet manner to get your attention, that wouldn't interrupt conversation. One example could be to just tap you on the shoulder and wait to be acknowledged when there is an adult conversation in progress. Teach "Kindergarten manners." Even entitled folks should say “please” and “thank you” for big or small things in life. If one is grateful, they remember to say these words for the small things, as well.
What children see parents doing to and for each other CAN influence their level of entitlement. When moms and dads let the kinds see them being appreciative of each other, the children learn to appreciate the daily things we do for one another. They became grateful people, not entitled people. The parents must lead by example. How often do we as parent say" thank you' to each other for something you might normally take for granted. An example could be, just thanking mom for the dinner, she prepared. Or mom telling dad "thank you" for washing her car. Simple everyday examples of teaching children to be grateful.
Here is a common open door to entitlement for children in today's culture, Breaking the Rules! One mantra seems to be common in households today, “Don’t tell ME what to do." Here’s the problem: allowing kids to break rules, whether minor, or major, teaches disrespect for authority. It leads to chaos in a home, in a school, in a society. Children show be allowed to give opinions but the "art of talking-back, and slamming thing around" should be nipped-in-the-bud! ( For those of you who are younger than 40, that means- stopped by strong persuasion.)
The message we send when we allow our kids to make their own rules, break ours as parents, and get away with it, is “the world revolves around ME.” And that message leads to entitlement. We don't need to parent like tyrants but we surely need to make it very clear about boundaries and guidelines that will not be broken. There are times when compromise and bending rules are needful. But make sure it does not enhance the feeling of being ENTITLED.
The question to ask oneself, as a parent, is "have I been too quick to step in? As parents, we need to resist the temptation to intervene unless absolutely essential. Be okay with a little failure along the way. I read somewhere that," failure isn’t fatal if it helps your child develop character." Allow your child to succeed in his or her own time and own way and you’ll raise an empowered child, not an entitled one. Don't be too quick to "step-in."
The next point of contributing to entitled children involves giving in to allowing your child to "follow the crowd," because they claim, "everybody's doing it." (Whatever "IT" is.) These days it’s not uncommon for middle school kids, preschool kids, or high school kids to have parties as elaborate as weddings and to go to prom in limousines longer than THE TITANTIC. Just to outdo some other kid, or simply because, "everybody is doing it." Is all this excess healthy? Where did it start? Who started it and why did we as a society follow it?
As parents we can make our kids feel SPECIAL, or cause them to be SPOILED. When parents allow every event to be "over-the-top", soon no event is special and nothing is enough. That scenario makes "Special" just ordinary. So the child becomes entitled: THINKING, I'm suppose to have the top of the line in EVERYTHING! There is absolutely no reason for parents to spend time, energy and money trying to top the last party, the last gift, or the last event. That's a sure way to produce a child who thinks she/he is ENTITLED TO NOTHING BUT THE TOP STUFF!
Before buying the latest clothes, toys, or gadget, or even allowing your child to participate in some over-the-top activity "because everyone else is doing it', STOP! Ask yourself if the decision is in your child’s best interest in the long term? Parents, let's begin to resist the urge to give too much, too soon. Shouldn't we allow our children the opportunity to look forward to things as they mature? Shouldn't parent give their children an opportunity to "anticipate?" Anticipation can prevent the feeling of entitlement.
Listen up parents. Just because society says we live in the age of ENTITLEMENT we don't have to become victims of entitlement. Make a decision to do a better thing for your children. Promote GRATITUDE! If you really have to go overboard on giving, give stuff they REALLY need: parental guidance, wisdom, time and direction. It doesn't take going overboard to put smiles on our kids faces. Just give them more of yourself, your integrity, your love, your time! Use more parental WISDOM, you may be the first to reverse the cycle of ENTITLEMENT.
May the Lord bless you and keep you 'til we meet again....RIGHT HERE!
To God Be All The Glory!
Elaine J. Jones