Are you scared that if you give your child everything he wants he will grow up with a sense of entitlement instead of working to earn his gains in life? Do you fear you will fall down on your parental responsibility to build your child’s character? – that you owe it to her to say ‘no’ to the gravy train and make her earn everything she gets? The fear of raising an entitled child is justified in some cases, but usually when this is the case the parents involved have no such fear. The parents that do worry about these things are the very ones that have intact values and behaviors that have nothing to do with money. Those strong values and behaviors are what are actually passed on, building good character.
My parents unfortunately had a dim view on their responsibility as parents and did not take the job seriously at all. They cared very little for the developing people that my sister and I were. Consequently we were ignored through much of our childhood and grew up with very little by way of childhood possessions or parental attention. When it was my turn to be the parent I overcompensated with my children and admittedly went overboard both on attention and on material possessions. The result was that my children could never show enough gratitude for what they were given, no matter how grateful they were.
The negative lessons that we learn in childhood become the mistakes that we pass on as parents. It took me years to recognize that the hole I felt while growing up could never be filled, no matter how much I tried to load up my own kids, with all the things that I missed out on having. Vicarious redemption is just that – it’s hollow because it’s not really yours. When children take the brunt of these displaced emotions, it is more than unfortunate when it becomes damaging.
So we worry that our children do not appreciate all that they have. We worry that they will grow up to be ungrateful adults with a sense of entitlement. We coddle to the point of outrageous self-esteem that the child has no sense of how what he did to earn it other than simply being alive. And we wonder why children who had such a promising start (“we gave him everything “) turn out to be so arrogant. Could the fault be ours?
In reality a lot of love, a lot of structure, good communication skills go a long way towards raising healthy children and our fears become unfounded.
COMMUNICATION TAKEAWAY: Parents who worry that their children will grow up with a sense of entitlement are the very ones that this doesn’t happen to because due to their worry they are actually passing on the good values and strong behaviors that have nothing to do with money. By modeling a strong work ethic, a healthy respect for money and what it can and cannot buy, and a concerned and caring for the well-being of other people these lucky children grow up just fine.