Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

When my family moved a few miles away to a smaller town last year, we swapped a huge school district for a smaller, more rural one, a push mower for a broken down riding one that my hubby fixed and city sewage for our very own septic system (just don’t play in the sprinklers). And while we are still close to The City (and by city, I mean Target and Chick Fil A), it was time we two-stepped over to the other side–and became a boot-wearing family.

grateful

On the way to the Rodeo a few weeks ago, one of my kids had a nasty, ungrateful outburst and I was half tempted to leave them in tennis shoes (the horror), but grace won out. Outfitting our children in cowboy boots was quite a splurge (hubby and I already had some).

After a fun day, we drove home, and this same kid’s ugly attitude showed up again with a bit of entitlement thrown in and it went downhill from there. There was dysfunctional family activity (so glad my life isn’t a reality show) and my husband asked for the boots back. This sort of broke my country heart, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

We didn’t buy the boots, so we could return them. As a matter of fact, my hubby couldn’t find the receipt at first and I bit my nails because THIS PARENTING THING IS SO HARD. We wanted our child to share the joy down to their feet, but it was the heart that needed the immediate attention.

The said child cried and begged and promised and fretted. And then pulled the grace card: “Why can’t you show me grace?”

I piped up and said, “Buying you the boots in the first place was grace” and then I recounted the earlier behavior.

My husband put the boots back in the box and stuck them on a high shelf in the laundry room and said,”If you want the boots, you’ll have to work for them.” He pointed to the huge mulched areas in the front yard and then the back. “You have 3 days to pull every weed. I won’t remind you, it’s up to you. It’s your job if you want it. It pays in boots.”

And that was that.

I wanted to high five my man and sob with my child, all at the same time. Because, lo, the weeds were many.

Our big yard is muddy and wet and full of weeds and I grimaced at the job, wondering what my child would choose. I was a silent cheerleader on their behalf. And my heart soared when I heard the front door click and I saw my offspring in old clothes sit down for the long hours ahead.

For the next two days, I watched my child work hard and get hands dirty and heart tender.

When my husband handed back the boots and I heard a true apology on my kid’s lips, I knew we had all won. “You earned these. I won’t take them away again.” A certain little cowhand is walking high around here and those boots means twice as much this time around. Hard work pays off and changes us in the process.

We live in an entitled world and whether we like it or not, children in our culture are consumers. It has become a global issue because they are a captive audience and the average kid views up to 40,000 commercials a year and business pour up to 17 billion into that advertising. Source. If you still doubt, just walk down the Easter aisles in your local store. Because only a consumer-driven society could take a Savior on a cross and turn it into a four aisles at the grocery store.

“Marketers want to accomplish two things with our children:

  1. Awaken and amplify their desire to consume
  2. Blur the line between wants and needs.” Source

And this combination is creating a generation of children who aren’t grateful, who expect everything to be handed to them and don’t really know how to work and this breeds the greatest enemy of all: discontentment.

Just look at what our culture has done with holidays. They’ve turned it all into hoopla and not only is it confusing to our kids to live in a world of made-up celebrations, it muddies the waters of the Holy ones and their true intent is lost.

If “true godliness with contentment is great wealth” (1 Timothy 6:6), then discontentment leaves of spiritually bankrupt and completely empty.

Honestly, I don’t blame the kids. As parents, we often foster this mentality with our own actions. We compare ourselves (and our homes, cars, etc) to what others have, we let media (and ultimately, advertising) influence our home by not limiting screen time and we have a hard time deciphering between needs and wants.

Fighting the entitlement battle  in our home is hard, but here are some things we are doing to try and live counter-culturally in this area:

  1. We are Asking for Hard Work- I think many kids in our culture (my own included) don’t know much about hard work. I grew up in a house that worked. We cleaned and did yard work every weekend and everyone helped clean up the kitchen every night. A few weeks ago, we spent most of the day in the yard. And the more my kids complained, the more I realized how much we had neglected giving them hard, dirty work. My kids get their own laundry basket and take over washing, folding and putting away their clothes when they turn 8, they take turns helping clean up in the kitchen and their rooms, but it was clear to me that a little hard work was needed. I’m excited to say a truckload of dirt and rock are sitting in our driveway right now, waiting a few hard workers. Oh parenting, you do come in handy. (Phil 2:14-15)
  2. We aren’t Making Unrealistic Promises-We regularly tell our kids not to expect us to pay for college. While we hope to help in some way, we don’t have plans to pay it for their college education in its entirety. We expect them to work hard now, focus on their gifted areas, get scholarships, part time jobs, etc, to contribute. We try not to make them promises that only enhance the entitlement attitude in our culture or promises we don’t know if we can keep.
  3. We are Sticking to Consequences-If we suggest a consequence, we commit to seeing it thru as often as we can. I’ve come up with some stupid consequences in my day and have regretted my rash tongue. But something clicks in our kid when they understand we are serious about some things.
  4. We are Limiting Media-Hushing the voices of our culture that is telling our kids all the stuff they need comes in part by tuning it out. Media specifically targets our children to want a lot of stuff they don’t need. We have a TV and computers and devices, but besides filtering them, we turn them off. My kids still complain about it, which reinforces exactly why it’s important.
  5. We are Exposing Them to the World-I’m a firm believer that an entitlement attitude is in direct correlation to perspective. When you’re only looking and thinking about yourself, you can only see what you want. But when you remove the blinders and see needs around you and in the world, it alters your perspective. Exposing our kids to other cultures and how most of the world really lives, stirs up gratitude like nothing else.
  6. We are Extending Grace-Living by a bunch of strict rules and do’s and don’ts isn’t the answer. Being flexible with your own rules is not only necessary, it’s healthy for your family. And let’s face it, who doesn’t need extra grace? We are on the same team.
  7. We are Examples in our Mistakes-Ouch. This is the hardest. When I compare and complain, I’m leading by example. When I am thankful and gracious, they are watching. As I make mistakes, I’m offering them the greatest lesson. It’s important to admit when we are wrong and ask for forgiveness when we hurt our kids.
  8. We are Raising them to Be Different- I Peter 2:11 Our society has low expectations of kids. We expect toddlers to get what they want and teens to be rebellious. Instead of helping our kids fit in every area of their lives (an impossibility, really), we are encouraging them to go against the flow, reminding them we’re supposed to be different than the world.  They are normal kids and have longings to fit in-we all do. We just aren’t going to compromise our beliefs or lives to do so in every circumstance.
  9. We are Relying on God- By far, parenting is the hardest job. And honestly, there are so many days, we don’t know what to do. Our kids belong to God. He loves them more than we do. He wants to guide us down the hard roads.

Our family certainly didn’t need new boots, even though we plan to wear them for years to come. But walking a mile in them taught us a great lesson in gratitude. Some days we feel like we’ve lost the battle against entitlement in our home; we are still in the trenches, trying to figure this all out. But as we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and turn our attention to The Cross, it’s thankfulness for His sacrifice and our chance at New Life that I want them to grasp the most.


Comments

  1. 2

    says

    Oh my oh my oh my…..just loved and GOOD FOR YOU. I stand up and applauded your awesomeness in a world of ugly. My hubby and I were conversing in the van on the way home from church about current events…. When will it end. How bad will the lines cross… I put my 7 kids to bed with a sad heart on how the human race daily crucifixes Christ… But your post makes me smile. There is still so much good out there… STILL. thank you for posting….I needed to read this.
    Xoxo
    GiGi

  2. 3

    Lisa says

    I had to laugh at the “grace card” remark. The other day (after I made some remark about “No more chances!”) my 7 y.o. looked at me with all seriousness and said, “But Mom, God is the God of second chances!”
    Seriously though, this hits very close to home. My 7, 3 and 2 y.o. ALL pull that junk! I see some serious changes on the horizon. Thanks for the timely post. : )

  3. 5

    Karen says

    GREAT POST! We too fight the entitlement beast in our home. Some days it wins….some days it doesn’t. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “But, his parents don’t make him pay for…….” OH MY!

    We have worked to be different and that has not been easy, but it has been worth it. My boys go out in the world knowing we tried! (They too have had to pay for college with student loans, scholarships and work, but we are helping some on the back side. They have/are appreciating their education more because of it!)

    • 5.1

      Matilda says

      This comment is a response to the author, not to you. I am unable to comment at the top. Sorry. The current level of children’s entitlement in our country is a response to the entitlement of today’s parents. Parents automatically expect special treatment merely for breeding. They get upset when their children are not allowed at adult only affairs, such as wedding receptions. They expect automatic discounts at restaurants and the movies, and throw fits when they don’t get their way. From taking up the entire sidewalks with their strollers to not nurturing their screaming babies in planes, today’s parents expect the world to revolve around their children. When children see this behavior, it’s natural that they develop the same belief. Regarding not paying for your children’s college, I hope you understand that today’s students incur student loan debts much larger than you ever had to deal with. The economy is much more bleak. We no longer love in a world in which hard work automatically helps you advance in life.. Not creating a college fund for a child is a bit selfish. Today’s children do seem entitled, but American advertising is not to blame. They are the product of their parents.

      • 5.1.1

        Pam says

        I disagree with Matilda on the college fund. It is not a selfish thing not to pay for your child’s college fund. Our oldest, now almost 21, knew that we would not be able to help with college. She was not completely sure what she wanted to do, so she went to a local college for a fraction of what a four year school would cost, and now has been working full time for almost a year and a half at an eye doctor’s office. Because she was a hard worked, she has moved from their call center to being trained as an eye technician. She lives on her own, and is making choices that many kids, who are playing at college, won’t begin to make for many years to come.

        • 5.1.1.1

          Amy @ Serving Pink Lemonade says

          I really appreciate this post. I have to add my two bits about having children pay for their college education. My siblings and I, as well as my husband and his siblings, have all payed for our own college education, and we’ve all graduated debt free! It can be done, and what a better thing for a child to work and save their money for.

  4. 6

    stephanie says

    oh, how perfect the timing on this post! we have been battling continuously with most of these, and yesterday had a final straw with two of our kids. i think we got to a point where we felt, well we took it this far, how can we start over now? but, that is exactly what we are doing. starting completely over with how we handle and follow through with things. i don’t want my children to grow up entitled, rude, and lazy. if that happens, i must know that i did everything i could to raise them otherwise!

  5. 7

    says

    Love it! I want my kids to understand these things as well.
    Last Black Friday my teenager was shopping with grandma. Grandma offered to buy her some new clothes to which my teenager replied, “no grandma, save your money. My mom can find better deals on brand names at Goodwill.”
    I was overjoyed and happy I got at least 1 thing right with 1/6 of them! :-)

  6. 9

    Heather says

    Thank you! So often I feel like ours is the only family struggling with this. It’s funny because right when I think we’ve got gratefulness in our kids’ hearts and minds, something happens to remind me that it is a constant battle in this world, but an important one so worth the effort. Keep fighting the good fight and LOVING every moment of it!

  7. 10

    Barbara says

    Very wise. We are struggling with these attitudes in our home and I felt like we were the only ones. It’s hard to think you are failing your kids. THANK YOU for letting me know we are not alone. This encouraged me greatly today. I am printing and sticking on my mirror to remind me.

  8. 11

    says

    Love this. I feel the same in so many ways… too many entitled people out there and not enough work going on… and Grace. I believe we need to have expectations in every age-range of our childrens’ lives. If you expect they will have bad behavior, then they will. It is our job to figure out how to make them better. :) It IS the hardest job!!

    Peace.

  9. 12

    Kate says

    Keep it up. My kids are grown, and they are amazing, and it’s mostly because of hard lines drawn, choices made despite their response. It’s worth it.

  10. 13

    says

    I love the posts where you get down to the basics of parenting in a first world country and its challenges. This post is beautiful. Very few can be as insightful or honest about what life is on a daily basis.

    I applaud you and your husband Kristen (and yes, I am so looking forward to when my kids are old enough for housework)

  11. 15

    says

    This is so refreshing! It’s an awesome primer on fighting entitlement. Thanks for the reminder that it begins with us and that we are examples in our mistakes. It’s easy to feel pride or a sense of self-righteousness when you see how other people have entitlement mentalities or how other people are raising their kiddos. Thanks for approaching the issue—and reminding us to do so—with a humble heart.

  12. 17

    says

    You are a wise woman! I wish I had understood these things so well when my kids were young. By God’s great grace my girls love God and work hard. Redemption at it’s finest!
    Linda

  13. 18

    kelly says

    I LOVE your blog and this one REALLY really spoke to me today!!! we are constantly struggling with this with a 16, 13 and 11 year old girls!!!! sometimes i just want sit down and cry and scream b/c its soooooo hard being a parent in today’s world and sticking to your guns and doing what is right by your children even though it isn’t what “society” thinks….You bring perspective and comical relief to a hard situation at times and thoughtfulness at other times and I LOVE you for it!!!! <3

  14. 19

    says

    Thank you so much for this post. My wife and I were just talking about this the other day, and how even birthdays have gone from simple “cake and ice cream and one gift” affairs to all-out block parties that children just expect. If we are not filling their young minds with responsibility and discipline, we are only feeding the entitlement concept to them.

  15. 20

    tiabennett says

    Amen Sister!
    We are right there in the trenches with you. My son lost the priviledge of his itouch last night. The night before we leave on a 15 hour car ride. You would have thought that the world had ended. Grace will be shown, but there is some squirming going on right now!
    Keep up the good fight!

  16. 21

    Brandy says

    I love this!! My husband and I are trying to teach our children this same concept. It’s hard when you live in a community where most (and I’m not exaggerating) children where $100 – $200 jeans daily. We can’t afford that lifestyle, but more importantly we don’t want that lifestyle. I struggle with trying keep up with my friends too, but have to step back and realize that’s not what this world is going to be about… in the end. I hope and pray my girls see me as a giving, loving mother. Parenting is so hard!

  17. 22

    BetsyD says

    Love this post. Thank you for swimming upstream, against the culture of entitlement and with a more Biblically-minded mentality. I remarked to a relative recently who was expressing anxiety over the looming financial “obligations” with his three girls (cars for each, full college tuition and a large sum of $ to get them going after college) that I was thankful the Bible only commands us to provide for our children’s necessities for life and to train them in the fear and encouragement of the Lord. That alone is a lot. Glad there is not the added burden of the unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of the world.

  18. 23

    Cara says

    Great post! I love the idea of having your kids work to earn things, and then those are their things (with, presumably, the consequences that come along with that, like, if you lose them we aren’t buying you another pair). I wish that I had more chores and responsibilities as a kid, because I think it would have prepared me better for adulthood. I always think that ranch kids are the most responsible kids out there, because they have real jobs.

  19. 24

    says

    Thank you for sharing the truth about the battle in which we are engaged. Thanks for the encouragement and challenge!

  20. 25

    says

    THANK YOU! this is so wonderfully written, and so nice to see parents who get it…..which in turn leads to the kids getting it!

  21. 28

    Erin H. says

    We have found allowance to be a phenomenal tool. My older two (ages 6 and 8…actually almost 7 and 9) each get $1.00 (four quarters) a week. They don’t have specific chores, but they are expected to help when asked. Things they are asked to do include unloading or loading the dishwasher, tidying the basement/playroom or their bedroom, feeding the pets, picking up sticks in the yard before Daddy mows, etc., and they are both required to put away their own laundry (I wash it and fold it, then it gets put in a basket in their room). When they have a royal fit about helping, they lose a quarter…they rarely have fits. Their allowance is their extra money to do with as they please. Our son often saves for Legos.

    Also, I have been reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder with my kids. The older two OFTEN comment about how Almonzo, the main character, is only 9 and has to work so hard…they look at this in thankfulness that they don’t have to work that hard, but also in envy that he knows how to do a lot of interesting things! They want to work hard, they want that knowledge and ability as well.

    As always, thanks for the great post Kristen!

    • 28.1

      Dana says

      I could have written this reply! =) I am also reading Farmer Boy to my 7 year old boys, not only because I’m a huge Little House fan, but because I wanted them to see how boys their age lived in the past. We also have them help out with basic things around the house like you do and I hear whining and complaining almost daily. We are definitely at a point where we need to make an impact on their concept of family responsibility, work, and entitlement. So thank you, Kristen, for a thought-provoking and honest post. Just what our family needed today!

  22. 29

    Kendra says

    Great post! I have been concerned and frustrated at my kids sense of entitlement. I started reading ‘Cleaning House: A Moms 12-month Experiment to rid her home of Youth Entitlement” by Kay Wyma. Awesome read and great suggestions. You should check it out – although it sounds like you are on a similar path already.

  23. 31

    udora says

    Thank you for fighting the good fight! I am glad your son stepped up to the challenge.
    I also feel better just knowing others feel like my husband and I do. It’s our job to raise our children to serve the Lord and
    NOT the world and it’s empty promises.

  24. 32

    says

    Great post! Loved your insights… We have three little boys, and I love that you pointed out how they are going to need some hard work to do! We try to think of all of these things to teach them responsibility and all of the things we want them to learn, but a lot of things come down to just doing some hard work! Great, great post!

  25. 35

    Lauren Schaub says

    I don’t know you personally but a common friend of ours posted your blog on her Facebook. Those were definitely the words my husband and I need to hear. God is good.

  26. 38

    Damaris M says

    Absolute blessing to come across your amazing blog. Thank you, thank you! Praying diligently for contentment not only in my children but myself. I tell my children tell me where you spend your time and that’s your treasure….video games, television. My mom’s words still ring true “garbage in? Garbage out.” We were created for much much more!! God is good and you and your family are a true blessing ♥♥

  27. 39

    says

    my husband and i have been saying for a while now that we are due a trip out of the states for the kids to see real life. my husband grew up in central america and is saddened about how much american culture has influenced our kids in the entitlement area just by being here their whole lives. we do limit media and don’t have a tv, but like you said it is even in the grocery stores. great reminder and encouragement to raise our kids against the current.

  28. 40

    Darrel says

    Thanks for sharing this, my wife sent me this link and I’m glad I read it! It makes me happy to hear we are not the only ones struggling with kids at times, trying to instill values. Keep up the good work!

  29. 41

    says

    Every now and then you come across a post that makes you want to pound the table and stand up and cheer. This one did that for me, and even drew forth an “AMEN” or two from me as I read. You’re SO RIGHT ON. Great post, and good for you and your family.

  30. 43

    Heather Forseth Grant says

    Wow did I need to see this today. My 11 year old daughter is crying because her friend is not speaking to her. The reason: We will not pay for my daughter to go to ANOTHER church camp with her friend. We ARE paying for all 3 of our children to go to our own churches camp. My daughter was upset and I was feeling guilty, but this post made me feel good about my decision. Great blog! I found this on Pinterest, but will continue to follow your blog:-)

  31. 44

    says

    My husband and I were just having a conversation about the same thing…entitlement! It is hard to get away fro this day and age with kids. Especially with media influence and all that stuff. Sometimes the attitudes can be so tough! But I’m encouraged by your post! I can totally relate and also super blessed and glad we aren’t the only ones that worry about this stuff. Thank you so much and hope you had a great Easter. Blessings!

  32. 45

    says

    This is a fabulous story. We need more of them, less reality shows. Entitlement has been a tough issue for many years.
    It begins with well-meaning parents who want “the best” for their children- I am one of them. When my boys were younger, I had a much different impression of what that meant than I do now. “The best” doesn’t mean the easiest or the most stuff. “The best” is found in the lessons learned and the rewards earned. Children need solid foundations that will serve them well as young adults and beyond. After all, as parents we are called to help God prepare them for life. Perhaps this helps them find “their best”.
    I tell my campers that there is a difference between etiquette and manners. Anyone can learn rules and guidelines. Being sensitive to others’ feelings (putting others before self) comes from the heart. Being grateful in all circumstances builds on our children’s foundation for life. And living as an example for others plants all kinds of seeds. Now, that’s good manners.

  33. 46

    Lexie Guymon says

    Thank you SOOO much for writing this & sharing your ideas with us, other parents, that are trying to do the best we can despite the world we live in! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! You have inspired me to be a better parent!!!

  34. 47

    Sandra says

    You are not alone! I feel so encouraged by your sweet and powerful words! Being a parent IS one of the most difficult jobs ever. But so much is at stake and therefore we keep pressing onward. We are making disciples of our children. It is important that I am picking up my cross daily and that my children see me focused on God. In our own family we try to remain focused on HIM by verbally thanking God for specific things in our life. When my kids make good choices, I complement them and we thank God for opening our eyes to our sin or thanking God for sending the Holy Spirit to help us resist sin…and we pray for others, every day. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5 I’ll pray for you. You pray for me and let’s watch what God has in store for our children!

  35. 49

    says

    I just wanted to say that your article makes some great points. I’m not even remotely a religious person, and obviously do not believe the same as you; nonetheless, with that being said, there are things written here that any parent can, and should, take away. Thanks for writing something that anyone can relate to. I have been struggling with this same issue with my 13 year old, identical twin daughters, and like you, I’ve stuck to my guns and I hope that in the end it will all pay off; I believe it will. Thanks again!

  36. 50

    JayDee Rooker says

    thank you so much for this – I so needed to hear ‘read’ this – we have been working on our children like this but need to work harder – I am keeping this for future reference – well put!!

  37. 51

    Anastasia says

    I just wanted to say thanks for this post and to encourage you in what you are doing coming from the opposite side of the fence, as the child of parents who fought the entitlement issue with me and my three siblings. I am currently 22 and am virtually debt free having finished my undergraduate degree and am almost through my first year of medical school. My parents helped some but most of it was up to me. I look at many of people my age and am so grateful for the discipline that my parents instilled in me at an early age. I thank God everyday for my parents. Someday your child will laugh about pulling the weeds, I certainly do when I think of all the bathrooms I “volunteered” to clean between the ages of 13 and 15. Keep up the good work.

  38. 52

    Stephanie says

    You are an inspiration to mothers struggling with the same issues. It is so comforting to know there are others out there with a similar mind, trying to raise their children with good morals, values, faith, etc. I sometimes feel very disillusioned and alone in such efforts in this society and I think by those like you speaking the truth of such ideals and leading your children by example, you are setting a wonderful precedent and affecting so many people by proxy. Thank you for your efforts and especially for the way you live and are raising your babies…

  39. 53

    Lisa says

    This made me realize how fortunate I am to have two very grateful children. Thanks for the reminder of how far we have come. I remember one time my kids prayed ‘thank you for the plates and spoons and food’ and I realized that is truly gratefulness. Of course we were homeless just before that happened, and we were all feeling grateful at that time. More recently my 11 year old has been asking for a cell phone, he wanted it for Christmas (well that’s long past), he wanted it for his birthday (that was yesterday) and he didn’t say a thing about not getting a cell phone. I think he will really appreciate it when I feel it is time to give him a cell, until then, it’s okay to ask.

  40. 54

    says

    We are a missionary family living in one of the poorest countries on the Earth. After moving here, we quickly learned- through experience- that we are RICH. I never understood this, nor could I, until I learned it through experiencing poverty. Now we live a simpler life than we used to, but we feel more grateful for our blessings. Education, good food, toys, electronics, and all the other things we’ve taken for granted all of our lives are now seen a blessings instead of things we deserve. Don’t get me wrong, I struggle with the same negative attitudes and behaviors in my heart and in my kids hearts. It’s just amazing to me how ugly the entitlement looks to the rest of the world. I think that with our great blessing comes a great obligation. TRAVEL the world with your families. Sacrifice in your daily life to make it happen. The world is only getting smaller as time goes on, and part of a good education, is understanding who you are and how you fit into a global perspective. THANK YOU FOR THIS!! I love your suggestions. I read it after I saw it shared about a million times on fb.

    • 54.1

      Abby says

      I agree with you, Hope! The blog’s author is so right about perspective affecting one’s attitude of entitlement. I’m trying to instill this with my children as well. Though we have not traveled to other countries (I would like to), we do little “research challenges” where I have the kids look up information about a region so they can find out about how children in other parts of the world live. This has helped them experience a different reality, and to be thankful and content with what they have.

      I recently was impressed by hearing from some old friends, who carried out a plan with their extended family to spend their Christmas giving instead of receiving. I’m talking about the whole family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone. They planned it for one year, by saving their money and planning for all of them to travel to a small town in Mexico for a week during the Christmas holiday, where they worked together to build a new dormitory building for an orphanage. Everyone worked, including the children. While this may sound extreme, they say it was the by far the best Christmas their family has ever had, and their kids agree. In fact, they are planning to do it again in a few years. My friends tell me they haven’t had any “discontentment” issues with their teenagers since they had this experience, and that their kids are looking forward to repeating the experience. This was a great example to me of how having a broader perspective of the world can help our kids avoid the entitlement attitude.

  41. 55

    says

    Thank you for this post! My husband and I have been talking about this a lot as we await the arrival of our first. It’s always nice to get perspectives from people that have experience :)

  42. 57

    says

    Well said. This parenting thing is hard, but the rewards are many! We are trying to raise our children in a Christian culture while we are living in a counter-cultural world. Your words are inspiring and encouraging!

  43. 58

    says

    Lots of great thoughts here that need to be, of course, more than just thoughts. Thanks for some good fodder. We just turned all the screens off for our kids earlier today.

  44. 59

    Amanda says

    Rarely do I ever leave a comment. But…thank you for the reminder, the confirmation, and the Word shared. A hearty agreement here and praise at your family moment used to glorify the Maker’s plan.

  45. 60

    says

    Thank you so much for your blog post. What you said needed to be said. It is so true. For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11
    Blessings to you.

  46. 61

    Brightspot says

    Wow, a laundry basket at 8 years old! Everyone I meet seems shocked that I give mine one at 12 years old and they are then responsible for all the laundry in that bedroom! I have recently split up the boys and make them each do their own as the younger was putting clean clothes in the dirty bin. He is now doing all his own at 10 years old. My 5 year old helps her older sister do theirs and she can fold and put away a whole load of towels by herself. This shocks most people but it has been a great relief to me! I agree, kids need some HARD, DIRTY work! One reason I got some chickens and am expanding the garden.

  47. 63

    James & Lauren VandeBerg says

    This post is to the point, direct and very true. We struggle with the same things here. We appreciate your honesty! It is so hard! Things have changed so much since our childhood. It is unreal! We started a garden this spring to distract from all of the electronics. Have put limits on them. As in, you can use them only on the weekend, period! This change occurred after Christmas. Many complaints for several weeks but then fell into a pattern. Lots of after school activities, play outside when you are home or do something inside play. Homework, prayer time, story time and bed. We have found that we are happier and they are too! AMAZING! Thx for sharing! As parents, if we can share our experiences, the good and the bad, that makes us all stronger and we can learn from one another! Thank you for posting this!!

  48. 65

    Allison says

    I wanted to share with you how much I appreciate your post. It was linked on a parenting group I am a member of in North Texas. I hope this in no way offends you but I am an atheist and greatly appreciate your perspective and wisdom which I believe is a reflection of your faith. It is quite beautiful and I am thankful to have been affected by it. I am printing this list and will refer back to it for the benefit of my 2.5 yr. old who I worry will grow up to be “one of those kids.” Working with teenagers for almost 12 years has taught me that as a culture we are indeed doing something wrong. Mainly we’re letting consumerism win the day. Thanks for sharing your family’s story.

  49. 68

    says

    Our kids are raised, thank goodness! Not sure we could be the parents today we were when our kids were growing up. It is extremely saddening that our country and social attitude is fueled by “the entitlement mentality”. It is scary to think that we have more people voting than our working.

  50. 69

    Monica Hughes says

    Your blog is inspired. I’ve had this very “entitlement” conversation with so many close friends and family lately – and it’s for us, the parents, that it’s hard not rescue our kids from the natural consequences of their actions, yet rescuing them is crippling our entire society. And not only that, but it’s not the pattern of parenting established by a loving Heavenly Father, who lets us choose how to act, but never takes away the consequences that follow our bad choices, no matter how much He loves us, and even though He forgives us. Time to get serious with myself and my 12 year old daughter. :) Thanks for the reminder.

  51. 70

    says

    I love this post, I was telling a friend recently that sometimes I feel like we’ve spoiled our kids without even realizing it. We’ve begun the process of “undoing” and I think it’s going to be a long road!

  52. 71

    Sherry says

    This post made my heart lurch – I so deeply agree with it, but I have a question…. I wish you could feel the earnest tug in my heart as I write it… My kids are 17 and 15…. Is it too late to turn things around and instill this within their character?
    I will greatly appreciate your thoughts.

    May you be blessed for so candidly sharing a truth I know God wants parents and children to know! .

    • 71.1

      says

      I am not the author of this blog, but I do want to say that it is never too late to teach your children the right attitude and mindset, no matter what their age. You might get a little more resistance, but at their age, you can talk to them about what kind of character you want them to have. Since they are older, they are at a perfect age to volunteer for service projects…working in a food pantry, Habitat for Humanity, or something else.
      Any time is the perfect time to teach your children the characters of gratefullness and humbleness (and I have a feeling you have done more to teach them this than you realize). God bless you as lead them into adulthood! :)

  53. 72

    minarous says

    This is good stuff, I was following along until the God stuff…but still to each their own and it all makes sense.

  54. 73

    Christine says

    Thank you for sharing your post.
    It is a daily struggle for my husband and I to teach our children how to live in this world and not be of it. Only with God’s help can we all continue to try.

  55. 74

    Sarah says

    This post is wonderful!
    I know people will be accessing this post to get ideas and help for their own children who suffer from entitlement so I wanted to share an additional source that has really opened my eyes “The Entitlement Trap” by Linda and Richard Eyre. It is well written and easy to read, but best of all it provides suggestions and (tried and true) advice for children of all ages.

  56. 76

    SuckMyBalls says

    And they’ll still end up experiencing all of the same ups and downs of life at the same rate as everyone else who grows up in non rural areas do. Attempts to indoctrinate your children doesn’t help them lead better lives. Maintaining peace in the home is all you can do.

  57. 77

    says

    I’ve come back more than once to read this & ponder. Many good things to think about & implement. Thank you :)

  58. 78

    says

    Love it! Good job and a great lesson. I think I might use this as a devotional with my kids. I hope that’s okay with you.
    I especially love the quote, “only a consumer-driven society could take a Savior on a cross and turn it into a four aisles at the grocery store.”

  59. 79

    Erica says

    My kids are 5 and 3. This is a PERFECT message and just what my hubby and I needed to get on the right track at an early stage. Thank you for your time and wonderful, powerful words of grace and experience.

  60. 80

    says

    I absolutely love this post! My favorite line is “I wanted to high five my man and sob with my child, all at the same time. ” I’m single and don’t have any kids, but can appreciate the struggles parents go through in trying to raise righteous kids in an unrighteous world. I also know how difficult it can be to balance the commitment and loyalty to a spouse with the nurturing and training of a child. Too often they feel as if they are in conflict, but you really can’t have one without the other. Kudos to you in your endeavors and thanks for sharing. May the God of all wisdom and grace continue to guide you along your family’s journey together. :o)

  61. 81

    says

    Wow – thanks for the encouragement. This should go double for grandparents (like me) who love to give their grandchildren things! I came to your blog from Tara Suel (thesuels.blogspot.com).

  62. 82

    Marc Arnold says

    Just discovered your blog… great post! We are working on this very thing with our kids right now. I am mostly to blame for their attitudes, so now I have to undo the damage. Difficult, but no impossible! Thanks!

  63. 83

    erica brinkerhoff says

    Thank you for reminding me that I am not fighting this battle alone :-) We do a lot of these things already, but still fight the ‘entitlement beast’ regularly. Our girls are wonderful already but we still need to help our children become more gracious. We are 2 parents fighting against a whole world of entitlement out there. I guess no one every said parenting the RIGHT way was going to be easy :-)
    Love your blog!

  64. 84

    tina says

    Thank you so much, I loved reading this. I have been searching & asking for some good ideas to teach greatfulness! I have found, I need to be more greatful & less entitled myself. Whatever I do wrong comes out times ten (x10) in my kids. Oy. So….back to the drawing board ;-)
    We also struggle much with how much to give & spoil & how much not to. They have more than my husband & myself had….but less than most kids around us. So it is always a “give me more” attitude. This was so good to read! Such wisedom & encouragment to us all. God bless!

  65. 85

    tina says

    2 questions….

    Do you give allowance, or should they contribute as a family? We don’t get paid for home & family care, so is it wrong to teach them everything is for pay?
    And
    If we have a garage sale & sell the kids’ outgrown clothing & toys (most of which we paid for) do they get the money or should we? Why?

  66. 86

    Marsha JOnes says

    While you’re at it teaching them to grow up to be good productive citizens, you might steer away from the rodeo. Rodeo’s are animal abuse, and we for sure want to teach our children that animal abuse is wrong.

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    Hello there! I simply wish to give you a big thumbs up for your great information
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  68. 88

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    I LOVE this. It’s so hard to teach kiddos about giving before receiving, and offering grace that we all so desperately need. We have definitely struggled, one major reason being that we’ve adopted our children at older ages. It’s rough to erase those early years that weren’t under our influence. But we’re trying!! Thank you for this encouraging post!

  69. 89

    says

    Your article has to be one of the best I have read in a long time. So much wisdom, I am so grateful that I have read this now while my sweet boy just turned four, I can change the sails :) Thank you. Tara (The Proverbs 31 Sanctuary Blogspot)

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    Dawn says

    Love this!!!! I am, right now, reading a book by Kay Wills Wyma called, “Cleaning House: a mom’s 12 month experiment to rid her home of Youth Entitlement.” It is so, so good and perfectly complements what you said here today.

  72. 93

    DeeAnn says

    Thank you for this :) we too are fighting this battle. I am grateful for the reminder to not give up, even when it seems we are losing!

  73. 94

    says

    Thank you so much for this post!! It’s so encouraging to see other families out there who share my own values, and are raising their kids to be responsible. In my own little rural town it feels like a lost cause. Keep up the good work!

  74. 95

    Silvia says

    Thank you for posting this. I feel the same way. It’s wonderful that you think like this. We definitely have higher expectations for our children in this earthly world.

  75. 96

    Emily says

    This makes me sad. To give a child a gift out of love then retract it and make them work to earn it back is no lesson I would ever want to teach.
    There are other ways to deal with bad attitudes and teach gratitude. I don’t criticize the obvious efforts put into teaching a lesson in this story but I feel like this is a lesson to be learned from rather than a inspirational story.
    I too have withheld gifts of love due to frustration of attitudes-I always regret it and strive to always find alternatives of dealing with the situation.

    When Jesus healed the blind man- he did not retract his healing because the blind man didn’t obey when Jesus told him not to tell others about it.
    A gift is not a gift if it comes at a price or with conditions.

    What if we had to earn Gods love? What if he took away all his blessings because we have a bad day or complained in our prayers at the end of a long day? The child was right, give more grace. God does.

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    R^2 says

    Just discovered this and I really enjoyed the article. It’s not an easy task trying to weed out some of the not-so-healthy mainstream cultural influences when raising a family. I find it especially hard when trying to explain it to my own parents. I do appreciate the idea of exposing kids to the world, but I don’t think “exposing our kids to other cultures and how most of the world really lives” to “stir up gratituted” is a healthy perspective. I’ve lived in remote parts of the world, as well as urban settings, I’ve seen the privileged and those without basic rights (here in the US as well other countries). Often times, I feel we confuse or excuse the unpleasant aspects of society as a cultural thing, when it is so much more than that. Despite being born in the US, my Indian heritage (often misunderstood) was used by others to show their children that they should be happy with what they have, because they believed the stereotypes presented by the media (by the way, kudos on limiting media).
    I’ve also seen parents with the best intentions, taking their children to volunteer at a local family shelter (where I worked with children staying in the shelter), and it almost always backfired. Kids staying at the shelter felt like they were an exhibit, and it became an “us” vs. “them” situation. There was a lot of stigma and misunderstanding. We were also aware of the attitudes of some of these voluteers and how they were glad it wasn’t them in this situation. Not that we shouldn’t be thankful or grateful for what we have, I just don’t think that gratitude should be gained at the expense of someone’s misfortune, a cultural misunderstanding, or simply something we don’t fully understand. I think looking at thing looking at issues a little more indepth will not only help kids understand what they have (or don’t have) with respect to their peers around the world, but it might bring about some awesome discussion and multiple perspectives.

  78. 99

    says

    I needed to read this. I have felt like this for so long and I get so much flack from people when I say that I want to do whatever I can to raise my daughter so that she is not selfish with a sense of entitlement. But then I always get people saying that everyone thinks that they an do better than everyone else and just wait until my daughter is older (she is 18 months). But I know me and I know what I expect of myself, so why would I expect any less from my daughter? My stepson already has a HUGE sense of entitlement and because of that he has actually lived off of others for over a year. He has not worked, but he is ok to let his friends pay the rent, bills and groceries. He ACTUALLY complained to my husband last week that he is mad that his roommate is spending his money on his new girlfriend instead of buying groceries for the household. Ummmmm excuse me? This is what I am currently dealing with and I DO NOT want my daughter to have that kind of attitude. Thanks for reinforcing what I have already felt so long in my heart that needs to happen between parents and children these days.

  79. 101

    michelle says

    I enjoyed this post , it is so true that our children have a sense of entitlement and yes as one writer had said the parents are to blame because we don’t always choose to be the example , but it does also come from advertisement and it is our jobs as parents to monitor that . I do think it is a great idea to have the child help with their education they need to learn from a young age to be responsible and to contribute , with parents helping out of course but not handing everything to them . We need more parents who teach their children these values and our world would be such a better place . Thank you !

  80. 102

    Jeromy says

    Bravo!!! It’s very encouraging to know that we are not the only family out their still trying to teach out children these lessons.

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    Julie says

    Thank you for your honest and encouraging words. Today was a day of fail in our house where entitlement ran rampant. I had pinned your post from another friend thinking “Some day I really need to read this.” Well, today was that some day. It gave me encouragement and reminded me that this is a process. Ultimately, I want my children to know that the grace we receive every day from our Creator is where our gratitude should stem from. A heart overflowing with thankfulness for salvation and new life. So, thank you for letting God speak truth and wisdom through you.

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