Living in the entitlement trap
We live in a culture that leaves many people believing that having whatever we want will make us happy, or make our lives more comfortable. This belief even extends to what we buy for our children. The issue of entitlement is a big one today, and it is causing many problems throughout our country and I believe even around the world.
As parents we often are the ones who are guilty of allowing this way of thinking to impact our children and how they approach their day-to-day lives. We strive the make sure that they have all the same things that the neighbors have.
Kids are not the only ones who have this problem. How many times have you seen someone who has gotten the newest phone, and suddenly the phone you are using isn’t as nice as it was yesterday? I must admit I am guilty of this ‘phone envy’.
We can learn so much by fighting entitlement
I am thankful for the fact that I can’t get the newest and the best phone. I am thankful that I can’t always buy the newest and the nicest things for my children. It has actually taught me a lot. The very presence of ‘phone envy’ in my heart shows me how I have allowed this sense of entitlement to creep into my own heart. By watching my children and how they behave when they receive gifts, I have also seen how it has crept into my children’s hearts.
I am thankful that I can’t get all the fancy, new stuff because it reminds me that I am made by the Creator of the universe, and that I am made for His purpose, not for my own purpose. I am created to fulfill the will of my heavenly Father, not to just live for my own comfort.
Saying ‘NO’ to ourselves fights entitlement
Often times we say ‘yes’ to our kids and ourselves because it is easier than saying ‘no’. How many times have you given in to a child simply because it will get the child to act better if you say yes? For example:
You are at the store shopping with your child. He asks for a sugary cereal that you really don’t approve of, but you have had a really bad morning, and this child has been very fussy all morning. As the mom you don’t feel like you have any more fight in you to say no, so you give in and buy the sugary cereal.
I have been this mom. Have you? Some days we just don’t have the extra energy that it takes to say no, and to discipline our children the way they need during those moments. Saying yes appears to be so much easier.. . in the moment. Later we realize that we have sown the wind and we now have to deal with the whirlwind.
As parents we need to stay in the fight. We are the ones who need to learn to combat this sense of entitlement within ourselves as well as in our kids. It takes hard work, and it isn’t easy, but it honors God as we seek to disciple our children to be more like Christ.
It is important to remember that if our kids see us indulging ourselves and not telling ourselves no, they will not learn the importance of saying no to their own wants and desires later. Our job as a parent is to work ourselves out of a job and leave healthy adults behind us. We can talk a good talk, but it doesn’t carry as much weight was living out the very principles we are trying to teach our kids. If you are dealing with entitlement in your own heart perhaps you should work on that before you try to remove it from your kids hearts.
Benefits to battling entitlement.
When we, as parents, take the stand against entitlement in ourselves and in our children we win on so many levels. We grow in many ways personally and we see growth in our children.
When we remove the easy ‘yeses’ we are forced to engage with our children more. We need to be more intentional about teaching our kids why we are telling them no, as well as holding fast when they begin to fight against the boundaries we are setting up. Think back to the example above of the mom in the store. If that mom takes a stand with her son and tells him she won’t buy the cereal there is a definite possibility of a terrible tantrum. This is an opportunity. Yes, a difficult opportunity, but it is still a moment to teach the child about why they can’t have the cereal, and to remind the child who is their authority.
Finally, when we remove the easy yeses it helps to teach our children to be more content with the things they already have. Do your kids really need a new bike? Do they really need a new toy?
Also it gives the child an opportunity to learn how the real world works. If there is a toy or electronic device your child wants consider making them work to earn the money for it. I have seen amazing things happen in my children when they do this. It empowers them. It shows them they are not dependent upon mom and dad for everything. It teaches them the value of working.
Learning to be content in all circumstances is a goal of mine, I am not there yet. But I am so thankful for the lessons the Lord has been teaching me as I move through this journey of learning to let go of entitlement.