5 Signs Kids are Struggling with Entitlement

5 signs kids are struggling with entitlementI finally wrapped a couple of gifts and put them under the tree. I don’t know about your house, but the minute I do this every year, my kids get really interested in what’s happening under the tree. Curiosity kills my kids. And the cat.

“Mom, when are you taking us shopping to buy gifts for you and Dad?” one of my kids asked.

“Do you have money to buy gifts?” I asked.

Eery silence.

“Well, I was thinking you could give us money. Um, to buy your gifts with,” came the answer.

Every month we give our kids money and it’s up to them to buy things they want (we provide things they need and also many wants). When I reminded my daughter of this, she said, “Oh, I wanted to buy a cute Christmas shirt with my money.”

Ah, choices.

When I polled my other kids, they too, were short on money and big on expectations. Now, I’m not a Scrooge and I don’t want to rob my kids of the opportunity to give gifts to others. But I also refuse to rob them of the privilege of hard work. Because that’s when the joy of giving is revealed.

So, I created a Jobs to Earn Money For Christmas Gift List and stuck it on our family memo board. I mentioned it once and waited to see who really wanted to give gifts this season.

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In our culture, it’s hard not to let entitlement creep into our homes and lives. It’s especially challenging not to fuel the expectations of our kids by our own parenting choices to make life easy for them and give them everything they want. We struggle with the “you owe me” mantra in our home. I’m writing about this because it’s an issue we really battle. But the first step is admitting it.

According to this must-watch Glen Beck segment, there are four cultural trends that contribute to the entitlement movement:

Self Esteem Movement- Raising kids with the “you are special” mantra isn’t healthy for kids. They don’t need to hear they are the best at everything and everything they do is the best (instead of look at me, it should be I’m a person of value that God created. Self esteem isn’t bad, but narcissism is).

Celebrity Culture-Reality TV shows highly dysfunctional people, and celebrates bad behavior. Rich  celebrities are portrayed as ignorant and they are worshipped in our culture.

Emerging Media- The growth of social media has altered reality, enhanced self-promotion, offers a “fake” sense of who we really are, as opposed to who we present online. Technology is not bad. It’s like fire-it serves a good purpose, but it can get completely out of control and dangerous.

Credit Bubble-This culture feeds on comparison. Not only in comparing ourselves to what others have, but also in getting it for ourselves even when we can’t afford it.

In our own homes, these trends can manifest in our children. This is what it might look like:

Five Signs of Entitlement in our kids: 

1. I want it now. Kids are impatient and who can blame them? We live in a drive-thru culture and instant gratification is well, instant. And often we find ourselves living in fear of saying no because our children are used to getting what they want.

2. I don’t want to work for it. Why work when it can be given to you? It’s fosters a cycle of laziness and poor work ethic when we constantly give to our children without requiring any work. We need to create entry points starting at a young age for our children to contribute to household chores and jobs.

3. I don’t have to clean up my mess. We battle this one often. I’m learning to choose my wars. But I believe this is also responsible living. If you make a mess, you clean it up.

4. I want it because everyone else has it. My 7 year old has asked for an Elf on the Shelf every day this week. Why? Because she feels left out that many of her friends have one. And that’s awesome for them, but I don’t want that to be the focus of our season and I honestly don’t have time or energy to create things for the stuffed animal to do. The bottom line for us: it’s okay for you not to have what everyone else has.  I asked my daughter, if everyone had a swimming pool, would you want one too? She said yes. Clearly, we are working on this one.

5. I expect you to fix all my problems. I love to help my kids out. But there’s a fine line between helping and aiding bad behavior. If my child forgets their lunch everyday and I bring it everyday, there’s really not a reason for them to ever be responsible. My kids expected us to give them money for a gift for us. Instead, I found it the perfect chance to teach them about hard work and let them solve their own dilemma.

This week, my son spent about 4 hours raking leaves in our big backyard. He had blisters on his hands and he worked very hard.

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My oldest babysat for five hours and my youngest earned money by cleaning and organizing under all the sinks in the house. When I took them to Target to Christmas shop, they were so proud to use their money. My teen spent more than she planned, “Mom, I love the way it feels to buy for others” she said as she counted out her hard-earned money.

My job here is done.

Not really, but it did make me smile to hear those words. The reality is, entitlement will rear its ugly head more than once this week and probably next. It’s a constant battle to remind our children and ourselves that we aren’t owed anything, that life is a gift and it needs to be appreciated.

So, what do we do about it? We can counteract these negative expectations by expecting more from our kids and teaching them these principals from Empowering Parents:

  • Money doesn’t come easily.
  • People work hard to earn money; it’s part of life.
  • If you want something, you need to work to earn it.
  • You are not entitled to things you haven’t earned.
  • Compassion for others (show them third world problems, so they have perspective on their first world ones)
  • Responsibility for Actions: there are consequences and rewards for our behavior and choices

Parenting is hard. Doing it in our culture is even harder. But it is possible to raise grateful, hard-working kids who put others first.  That’s my goal anyway.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Nice article…I will be sharing. I have a little guy (one years old) and we’re going to try the infamous ‘Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read’ guideline for gift giving. Hoping my kid falls in love with it as much as I did, some day!

    • 1.1

      Summer says

      We’ve done something similar for the past 3 yrs. We do something to read, something to wear, something to play with, & something to share. My older kids love it & the little ones don’t know any different.

      • 1.1.1

        Karen says

        I love the “share” aspect. We are doing that this year but with “need”. Will do “share” next your. It really has freed my stress over Christmas shopping and we’ve trained the kids all year what to expect. I can’t wait.

      • 1.1.2

        Ashley says

        I love this! I just have a question for the “share” aspect of it. How do you handle this part? I mean do they pick a gift before hand to give to someone in particular or do you just give something to toys for tots and give them a note with what was given on Christmas day, etc? Thanks :)

        • 1.1.2.2

          says

          For sharing if both my boys are into say The Octonauts I buy them each something from Octonauts that they can use together. They love to play games together or even a giftcard to buy something together.

    • 1.2

      Cheryl says

      I’ve never heard of the “something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read” idea before. It sounds really neat. Could you give a little more detail about what you do? Thanks.

      • 1.2.1

        meggan says

        We do this…so this year our three year got
        Something you want (whatever she asked Santa for)…Sofia the First doll.
        Something you need: a big girl car seat.
        Something you wear: warm fleece outfit
        Something to read: New story books

    • 1.5

      pgb says

      The idea of only buying gifts that we could “eat, wear, or use up” was one of the best rules my family ever used. We were all so tired of accumulating “things” and getting rid of things to make room for more “stuff”.

    • 1.6

      PersonOfInterest says

      I have 3 year old twins and I highly recommend to everyone to get Mason jars and some sort of small colorful balls. When you kid does something great (listening, cleaning up, etc..) have them place a ball or two in the jar . when they fill the jar they can get a toy at the store. Now my kids go through the store and instead of saying, “I Want This!! Now!!” they instead say, “I want to earn this!” and we can leave the store peacefully. So this teaches kids about earning their toys AND it also saves the parents the headache of kids whining about wanting toys at the store.

    • 1.7

      says

      We base it on the wise men, and do three gifts. A want, a need, and a treasure. Works great! We also do a Christmas Eve box with jammies, slippers, a treat, and a family game or movie. Family opens it together (pjs are wrapped individually).

  2. 2

    says

    I have a question: at what age should I start having my kids buy presents for others? Our oldest just turned 6, and we take him shopping to buy for siblings and parents, but we still pay for it. When should we make him spend his own money? And when should we have the younger kids buy presents with our money? They are 3 and 8 months.

    • 2.1

      melissa says

      That’s one of my questions, too. My boys are 5 & 4, and this year, they really want to buy something for each other. We’re going to take them out this afternoon and give them $5 to spend on each other. They don’t earn cash from us yet (just stickers for their chores), but I do want them to learn the responsibility of spending their own money. I bought a book called The Berenstein Bears Joy of Giving, and I really like that it talks about giving as the cubs buy a gift for each other, think about spending the extra on themselves, and then decide to use the extra to give away. We’ll see how it goes today with our kiddos this afternoon! :)

      • 2.1.1

        says

        I suggest reading “The Bank of Dad” and starting them on an allowance as soon as they can name the coins. Give them enough so they can really buy things or it won’t be a learning experience. Divide funds into “give/save/spend” each month/ quarter/ year if you want to go further.

        • 2.1.1.1

          Laura says

          I love this article!! A while back I read another of yours on a similar issue dealing with boots. You offer very practical and much needed actions for our home. I just took a screenshot of the post about “The Bank of Dad.” My dad had to have either read or written this book as it is exactly what we did. I saved for my American Girl Doll that way and earned another through babysitting without pay. Later, my parents did Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and incorporated that into our much more expensive teenage “I want it” list. We had a set amount of money for a set amout of things, and after that we had to earn and save, and there was a cap on our earning as well. And now in adult years 2 of the 3 of us are good with money. My husband and I plan to do a similar thing for our own children. Our kids are three and four now and we plan to start them in kindergarten, but they already have a few chores that are expected of them.

      • 2.1.2

        Sue H says

        When we were little, we “saved” our birthday and Christmas money – from the time we were a year old in a cash register coin bank. Bills were converted to coins. We also made deposits into our savings account at the bank from time to time. My older brother and I started doing jobs for neighbors like raking leaves and shoveling snow and mowing the lawn from the time were ten. I cannot remember when we first started giving each other gifts at Christmas, but in my memory, we always used our own money either from what we had earned or from birthday and Christmas money – some Christmas money from relatives came in early enough that we could use that (in part) for gifts for each other. And what we gave each other were things that were not overly expensive but were things our sibling wanted or would enjoy. Sometimes we made the gifts. Sometimes two or three of us “went in” on a single gift for another sibling. If a child really wants to give a sibling a big gift – then talk about how much it costs and encourage that the child start saving now to buy it as a birthday or Christmas gift for the coming year. The child may change what she plans to give with time, and that is okay too, but the child learns the value of planning and saving and working.

      • 2.1.3

        says

        I take my kids( ages 10,8,6,3)to thrift stores (as a family we dont buy much new) and they spend their own money. At this point it’s their own b-day money since we haven’t worked out an allowance plan. They find great treasures for one another and can easily afford them.

        • 2.1.3.1

          Renny says

          I love that you take the kids to the thrift store! Buy used and save the difference!! So many people forget that great stuff goes to thrift stores, you just have look for it!
          I would recommend checking out Dave Ramsey’s book for kids – Financial Peace Jr. It’s geared to ages 3-`12 to teach them how money works and how to make it work for you. Dave doesn’t believe in giving kids an allowance. He teaches that its important to teach kids the value of earning their money as opposed to being given the money just because.
          It’s on sale right now at his online store. ( you may be able to find the book at the local library.
          http://www.daveramsey.com/store/kids-teens/kids-3-12/financial-peace-jr-for-kids-ages-3-12-/prod112.html

      • 2.1.4

        Ginny says

        Money was super tight when our children were little – and they are 5 and 4 years apart. We started a Christmas shop when our oldest was about 5. We would purchase a few small things that my husband and I needed, then let our son earn money doing chores. Then, his dad would take him to our “shop” to buy for me, and I would take him later to buy for his dad. We continued this tradition when his little sisters came along. That way, we knew our hard earned money was going to things that we could really use, even if it was a pair of socks, and the kids were able to choose from things we really needed, as opposed to typical “junk” , just for the sake of a present. Gifts of time/help cards were also big items that we made, and truly redeemed. We also made LOTS of other things together for one another, and we all really enjoyed that.

        • 2.1.4.1

          jen says

          I LOVE the Christmas shop at home idea! My daughter bpught me perfumed body lotion this year. Not cheap, but not something I’d use. Having a predetermined list of options will prevent waste next year.
          Genius! Thanks for sharing.

      • 2.1.5

        Brenda says

        We follow the Dave Ramsey guidelines for having chores for children that they earn commission for. Not an allowance but a commission. Even 3 year olds can help sort laundry, pick up toys, etc. He recommends $5 a week to start – $2 to spend, $2 to save and $1 to give. My grandsons who I am raising are 14 and 12. They help cut, stack, and carry wood during the winter, wash dishes, sweep the floors through the house, feed and water the dog, mow 2.6 acres in the spring and summer. They get $4 to spend, $4 to save and $2 for giving. We buy their food and provide a home, we also try to buy some wants when we can, but if they want a particular item that is outside these guidelines they know they have to save for it. I think because they have gone on a foreign mission trip and seen how other children have to live and what they don’t have compared to what the children in the states have they have a better appreciation for what they have here. Plus my husband and I have tried to instill in them the fact that to have anything in life you have to work for it. We have worked very hard to do away with the entitlement mentality. Get Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace for kids and learn these guidelines. They really do help.

    • 2.2

      kristen says

      We haven’t done it as long as we should have…I really think it depends on the child. I think a good marker is when your child ASKS to buy for someone else. For a long time, I wanted my kids to give to each other and I paid for the gifts. But when they become aware of the meaning of Christmas (because we’ve taught it) and start asking to give to others, it’s a good sign they are ready for a little skin in the game. Just my opinion…not an expert here :)

    • 2.3

      says

      Instead f buying we make it a family thing to make presents. If they have extra money to buy and want to that’s up to them, but starting from babyhood up we all make presents for each other. Infant=handprints,footprints, etc….toddler=painting, drawings, random created stuff(last year my son made lego guns for everyone), etc…small child=work together to make crafts, small sock animals or felt toys(this year we’re doing monster masks for everyone(age 4 boy)). He cuts, glues, designs, and even hand sews the bigger stitches. Big kid=limitless diy crafts(my 11 yr old bakes, sews stuffed animals and toys for everyone, makes bracelets, etc…and my eldest is a he). They love(and by love I mean LOVE) Christmas and thinking about what they’re making next. They have never asked for money for presents nor would they(anytime of the year) simply ask for money without expecting to put in some effort or work. Generally, they save their money(allowance that they earn every day) though, so it’s a very rare occasion to have them need money for something. And I have never seen them disappointed by what’s under the Christmas tree.

    • 2.4

      Terry A says

      Starting when my daughter was 3, we had her make gifts for others. We bought the supplies, but it was good for her to put time and effort into her gifts. Sometimes she decorated votive candle holders, or made different types of ornaments. There are lots of websites with craft ideas. She’s 13 now and is quite the artist, so she still does that but her projects are much more sophisticated these days!

    • 2.5

      Julie says

      In our family we just wait until the child is aware & wants to give something to the other family members. We have never really given money so they can “buy” something for someone. If they don’t have money then they can make something or give “coupons” (my girls have gotten pretty creative with these – coupon for doing a sister’s chore is one I can think of – I personally like the coupons to Mommy for back rubs or making dinner! (my girls are ages 5 – 12)). They’ve written stories (dictate the story to Mommy or an older sister) and illustrated them, they’ve drawn pictures, my 10yo this yr is going to make truffles for the grandparents & my 8 yo also bought some choc. chips when they were on sale and melted them into Christmas chocolates for her sisters.
      It is interesting – my oldest, I don’t think, really thought about wanting to give others presents until she was 5 or 6. Subsequent children have wanted to do it at an earlier age. I think with the oldest perhaps they think it’s just something the adults do, whereas the younger children see that they receive gifts from their older siblings and thus want to participate at a younger age. I have to say too, that we’ve gotten lots of gifts from the dollar store! (From edibles they give Daddy, knowing he will share, to thoughtful figurines or cross wall plaques for Mommy.)
      We are also very stingy on their allowances and they have chores to do because “they are part of the family.” (Altho I don’t give them an allowance until they start doing chores regularly w/o complaining or me having to constantly remind them.) They do have opportunity to earn extra money and sometimes they take advantage of it (esp. before birthdays or other gift-giving opportunities) and sometimes they are required to “take advantage of it” (eg. Daddy tells them to pull the weeds, and then pays them).

    • 2.6

      says

      Sometime around age 2 or 3 my kids started to collect “pieces of money.” So, beginning at that age, twice a year, at their sibling’s birthday and at Christmas I began to have them contribute. I’d ask them to go get their money and we’d go to the store. I’d let them choose whatever they thought Daddy or brother wanted and then I’d ask them to put as much money as they thought it might cost up on the cash register. (Obviously, I made up the difference.) When they were able, I had them count the “pieces” or learn to really add it up. Eventually they had enough money to really pay for items. This year, at 9 & 12, they refused to let me help them out.

    • 2.7

      Erika says

      6 is old enough.

      We stress the thought is more than the gift. I make gifts for people and show then that making something for someone in their favorite color or something you know they can use is better than a gift card to Target. My children start chores around 4/5 years old. They earn $.25-.50 per job for those types of jobs (my older kids have bigger jobs that earn more).
      My youngest, just turned 8, didn’t buy anything this year. She loves art and made pictures for people and some other things. They may not be lovely in the average person’s eyes, but she worked hard on them. Honestly, I don’t need anything for Christmas, so a pretty picture to hang in my sewing room would be great!

    • 2.8

      Destenee says

      I think that when they are as young it important for them to get in the habit of giving. My son just turned 3 but starting at his 1st Christmas I had small gifts for him to hand out. He didn’t understand but that was ok. By the time the second on rolled around I had talked about giving presents so much he was excited to. He made small 8×10 paintings to give. He was really proud of his art and could hardly wait to give his gifts. The paintings turned into kind of a business for him and he has made quite a bit of money so sometimes I’ll let him pick out a book or a toy to buy. But not that often.
      I also put special events in our family and everyone’s birthdays on a calender so he can help me mark the days. The other day was his great grandmother’s birthday and he used his own money to buy her a flower and made her a card. I try and focus more on the things I think are important and steer in him that direction. But he is only 3 so some days it’s just showing him better than I can tell him.

  3. 3

    melissa says

    I love this! Thanks so much for sharing! & although it’s too late now for us to do the “extra chores” for Christmas Cash, I’ll keep it in mind for next year!

  4. 5

    says

    Great post, Kristen (as always)! The biggest struggle we’re up against in all of this is my mother-in-law. They live a mile away and she’s around ALOT (regardless of whether or not she’s invited). And she spends like today is her last day on earth and she just won the Powerball. Every time our kids are with her she either a) brings a toy over for them -or- b) they come home with a toy…and I’m not talking a tiny little toy. Think $20+ Transformers. We’ve tried to politely say STOP ALREADY and that hasn’t worked. Now Christmas is here again and my husband and I literally have NO ideas what to get the kids because she’s already bought everything (and more) that they’d wanted. It’s completely ridiculous. COMPLETELY. And frustrating. And honestly, its a huge source of stress in our marriage. Any ideas or suggestions on how to stop the “out-of-control-money-spending-Grandma” problem?! Sadly, I so look forward to January – March when Grandma & Grandpa head south for the winter because I’m able to re-claim my house (and my children) as we dig out from all of the “grandma crap” as we so lovingly call it. Grandma needs some SERIOUSLY taming!! Yikes.

    • 5.1

      Sara K says

      My Mom is like this. We have politely, over the last several years, asked her to pare back. She has *some*. My kids know that they can count on her for big items and lots of random things, and that bothers me. But, I have also realized that giving is her “love language”. And so, she can give all she wants. My kids need to pick what they’ll keep and we give the rest away. You can only control you, your family and how you react, so at least in my case, I try to just let it go. Maybe get your kids tickets to events or things you want to go to as a family if they’ll get everything physical they want (and more). This is actually the first year we are buying our kids anything other than books for Christmas because we have way too many presents from others coming in. This year, I kept one idea for each kid just to myself and that’s what they’ll get form us. Good luck!

      • 5.1.1

        says

        Thanks, Sara! :) Yeah, it’s just tough. My MIL also doesn’t cook, so she’s CONSTANTLY stopping over with take-out or wanting us to meet them at a restaurant for dinner. As a kid, going out to eat was a HUGE treat and now when my kids hear “we’re going out tonight” they groan and beg to stay home and eat. It’s pathetic, really. My husband and I did decide that we’re going to focus more on what “experiences” we can give the kids this year for Christmas. For example, this summer we’re hoping to meet up with some relatives from Colorado (we live in MN) out in the Black Hills. So I’m considering wrapping up something related to that…maybe a “gift certificate” type thing (I’m a graphic designer so that’s right up my alley!) for something fun with their cousins this summer. I just need to get creative I guess in light of the grandma “issue”. Honestly, the hardest thing for me is that we grew up super poor and I’ve worked my tail off for EVERYTHING. So to see my kids drowning in “stuff” (mostly from Grandma), it makes me sad that they don’t have any idea what it’s like to not have 500 toys at Christmas…or any time of year for that matter. I guess this’ll just have to be something that my husband and I continue to pray over while trying to devise the best way to make sure the kids aren’t thinking this is how the world works – you just sit there looking cute and people drop hundreds of dollars worth of “stuff” in your lap.

        • 5.1.1.1

          Jennie says

          This year we adopted a needy family from the Salvation Army. In our town you are able to chose the family size, etc. Our kids, ages 8,5 and 2 thought it was so much fun. They got to wrap all of the gifts and help decide what to buy. The family had really basic needs/ wants so it opened a lot of discussions about not everyone has what we have. I think they were most surprised that they family wanted toiletries. It also helped me dial the gift giving down a few notches. Every person on our list does not NEED anything. Now, that it is so close to Christmas Day my family is wondering how excited the other family was when they saw their gifts :). Definitely something we will repeat again next year.

        • 5.1.1.2

          Tonya says

          I think experience related gifts are great. You will make wonderful family memories. If MIL/Grandma gives a lot, let her do it. Don’t stress about it! Tell the kids to pick a few to put up for later if you need to. My MIL used to do the same thing and I know it’s frustrating. Definitely pray about how to handle it, but I wouldn’t overstress about it right now. You can ask her and it’s her decision whether to oblige. You could also let the kids donate some after a few months. That way, maybe you won’t get so overwhelmed with tons of stuff! Maybe have them physically take it to a shelter so they can see that not everyone has tons of things.
          We grew up poor, too….didn’t eat out much, didn’t have big Christmases. But, if the children’s Grandma likes to give lots of gifts as her love language, what can you do? (other than, politely, ask her not to;)) Maybe you could give her suggestions, like, donate to their college fund or a project/charity they’re interested in instead.
          Merry Christmas!!

          • 5.1.1.2.1

            says

            Thanks for the suggestions, ladies! After re-reading my comments I sound a bit like a raging lunatic, so I should apologize for venting here. I do love my mother-in-law dearly – we’ve just struggled with boundaries since day one (which she’d also tell you – it’s no secret). Time to take a deep breath and pray that I’ll have a better attitude about the situation and our relationship. When I initially posted I was frustrated because the ONE present I had bought for my daughter…I just had to go return because I got a call saying, “Oh, I picked up one other thing for P”. The SAME thing I just bought. ARGH!! Anyway, moving forward we’ll just have to try and get creative with all the “stuff” they receive. A visit to the local foodshelf/community closet will definitely be in our near future! We’re very thankful that Grandma & Grandpa already do contribute to a college fund for the kids – that’s a huge blessing which will come in handy down the road!

            Merry Christmas everyone!

        • 5.1.1.3

          Tracie says

          I do not agree that there is nothing you can do to stop grandma. We had the same problem and I had to get hubby on the same page with me. When grandparents said they had presents we refused to take them and saw them less and less until they got that what they were doing Bb unacceptable. I felt like they were always trying to buy the biggest present at Christmas and stopped that. You do not get to get something more than Santa brings. We still have some issues but not close to what was going on when they were first born.

          • 5.1.1.3.1

            Fran says

            Aimee, the consequences for grandma’s inattention don’t have to be drastic, but they have to be clear, loving, firm and followed through with. You and your husband must get on the same page about this and deal wirh it now or you will have many more problems in the future.
            I am grandma’s age and I understand all sides, but what she is doing is not only wrong it is harmful. You have to be the parents of these children here.

        • 5.1.1.4

          Karen N says

          Maybe Another way to look at this, is a lesson for your kids. The giving to those in need is a nice lesson for them, but how about a more simple way is teaching them to not take advantage of Grandmas love. While asking Grandma to hold back on buying things, how about teaching your children to just simply say, “Thank you Grandma for the offer but No thank you at this time, and I still Love you just as much.” I remember being taught how to politely turn down an unnecessary gift. Or explain to them that instead of a $20 gift, keep it under $5. Or maybe just an ice cream treat or getting doughnuts to take home for a special dessert after dinner. Ask her, MIL, instead of buying unneeded toys, to find a fun treat she could get them. My mom will send my kids home with doughnuts for dessert and when my kids eat them, their smiles are just as big, if not bigger, than when they step over the toy that was bought the day before. It’s just a thought but its a lesson in knowing that small gestures are just as meaningful. I believe both sides win. Also, on the duplicate gift. I believe you have the right to explain to her that you had bought it already and that she needed to take hers back. Just another way to look at it.

          • 5.1.1.4.1

            Frances says

            The idea of learning to refuse the gifts is interesting!
            I’m not sure that substituting sweet treats for toys is solving the problem though- then you’re just teaching them that food = love (even worse if it’s sweet treats) and creating a whole other problem that can also be very damaging.
            I agree that small gestures should be just as appreciated, and I’d suggest that non food-related ones would be even better.

          • 5.1.1.4.2

            Cindy says

            I was taught that to refuse the gift is to refuse the giver. However, what you do with the gift is totally your business, even if it is the next day you give it to someone else. Perhaps you could get Grandma to read this article and responses. Possibly she would understand that she is not doing her grandkids any good by buying all that “stuff”. I am a new grandmother and I am totally committed to respecting my grandchild’s parents in how they want their kids raised. I know that if it do not respect their parents, then I may influence them to disrespect their parents, which nowadays is a problem fed by the media, television, movies, and society in general. I wish to be an influence for what is better. If I were you I would give her the benefit of the doubt. Surely she is an intelligent and caring person. Try reasoning with her. If that doesn’t wake her up, sometimes you just have to move.

    • 5.3

      Kim says

      Aimee & Sarah-

      I had the same situation- an overabundance of toys due to grandma. I decided that each year my four girls had to pick out a specific number of toys (determined by their age) to donate. The first year, it was rather difficult but the next year and the following years, my girls actually got excited about donating some of their toys. I wouldn’t let me them give toys that were broken or pretty worn from play. When my youngest was too little, I chose the toys myself.

      Aimee- don’t let this be a huge source of stress. Come up with a solution (since grandma doesn’t hear too well) that works for your family.

    • 5.4

      Jeff E says

      One of the possible ways to get Grandma from not “over-purchasing” but still allowing her to give is to encourage her to give “time gifts”…. take them to the park, or to a movie, or to a play, or to a craft place, etc. These are good ways for her to express love without you accumulating the Grandma junk that ends up cluttering up your house and your lives.

    • 5.5

      KPavlik says

      Try having the kids donate the toys to charity. Let grandma know that some things have to go to make room for all the new stuff she is gifting the kids with.

    • 5.6

      Debbie says

      Keep all of the toys that Grandma buys the kids, besides holiday gifts, at Grandma’s house. When her house because so overcluttered with toys, she’ll stop buying so much.

    • 5.7

      Melissa says

      I have/had a similar situation… and can totally relate to the “we don’t know what to get the kids because someone else already got them”. I would just encourage you to reflect on why it matters “who” gave them the gifts. I had to do that and once I realized I was upset because I wanted to be the one who made Christmas for them, I then could release that and just enjoy that my kids were getting what they wanted, I could be thankful that I didn’t have to spend the money on it and take the left over cash we would’ve spent and do fun family things! Which really is better than the toys in the long run. LIke many others have stated, you may not be able to change the MIL’s behavior, but what you can change is how you react to it. Also, don’t harbor any guilt about getting rid of the stuff either. Once it’s been used, and is no longer the “it” thing we get rid of it. Regardless of who gave it to them… It happens all the time to items we buy… why should it be any different because someone else made the purchase.

      • 5.8.1

        says

        This exactly! For Christmas, my mother would either donate excessive gifts or she would hide them and give them to us when we did something good (get a good report card, help out around the house without asking, our birthday, etc.). We never felt like we were lacking at any point (and we were very low income at the time, we had “meat mondays” and always wore hand-me-downs/handmade stuff from others – we didn’t realize this was the case until we were adults).

    • 5.9

      Julie says

      Aimee – I had tears in my eyes as I read your post. It could have been written by me. My children are now adults. Their grandmother was/is just like your MIL. She is my MIL Christmas was always the same way for us. It was so hard because they would get 5x more on Xmas Eve at grandma’s house then at home on Xmas morning. We asked and asked, pleaded for years for her to stop. It was like she just couldn’t. She always bought our kids not only a million things but the ONE thing they really wanted. It was like our gifts were crap compared to hers. She and my sister in laws would even over step by asking the kids for their lists without my knowledge so there was nothing left for us to get our children. She also ALWAYS bought our girls a Christmas dress and Easter dress, stealing that opportunity from me as their mother. I was even reprimanded by one of my sister in laws one year when I bought my girls Christmas dresses for the church program and politely told my MIL no thank you for the ones she bought.
      But the light at the end of the tunnel is that our adult daughters have actually grown up to be thrifty, generous women. They have asked me to promise only to give our grandchildren 1-2 small gifts for Christmas and I am thrilled!!! I would rather spend time with them and give them experiences etc than throw away things that end up in the landfill or goodwill within a year. Just continue to raise them as you know the Lord is leading you to. Teach them to say Thank You and to give things away regularly. And ask for extra grace to extend to grandma. I know it is frustrating.

    • 5.10

      Mama to three says

      If your in-laws are causing stress in your marriage, then that’s a problem…. How does your husband feel about it? That’s who you need to deal with. Otherwise, if “Grandma” isn’t actually meddling in your important decisions, I would leave it alone and quietly donate the stuff. If giving these gifts is causing her financial ruin, then that might be a reason for your husband to step in. If you are concerned that your kids don’t understand they are fortunate and blessed to have someone who showers them with stuff, take them to a soup kitchen or food bank to help. My kids were able to do this as young as age 4 under my supervision. There is nothing that will make kids grateful and wake them up to the blessings in their life or help them understand how things could be than seeing real poverty.

  5. 6

    Jaclyn says

    Great article! The trouble I run into is that I think the kids should do jobs around the house, not to earn money, but because they are a member of our family and should be expected to help. Yet I want them to realize it takes hard work to earn money. Do you children have regular jobs that are an expectation and other jobs they can do to earn money? I’m just trying to figure it all out!

    • 6.1

      Jennifer in VA says

      See below for my comment…. #11, yes we have two groups of chores, the regular chores rotate each week and the “pay” chores are “first come, first serve.”

    • 6.3

      Karyl says

      Hi, Jaclyn. I’m not sure how old your kidlets are but when our daughter was little (think pre-K/K), she had her regular chores that went unpaid (i.e., “Nobody eats for free,”) and then she earned money with “show coupons.” Basically, she was given so many coupons for tv/video watching per week and for every coupon she had left over at the end of the week she earned a dollar. It helped her wrap her head around the idea of earning money and helped nip the electronic babysitter habit in the bud (for both of us!). We dropped this when she basically gave up shows altogether to get the money! Then we transitioned her to special projects for pay. We also pay her when she covers a “parent chore” that we would normally take care of during the week. We’re hoping that’s a good transition until she’s old enough to work for others.

    • 6.4

      Dawn Peluso says

      We do something similar as to what was mentioned. My kids have responsibilities (taking care of their rooms, feeding their chickens, etc) that they do b/c they are a part of our family. Then they have a list of chores that they earn a small amount of money for.

  6. 8

    Jennifer in VA says

    Fir those of you with Littles…. Even a 4yo can do some chores- beyond picking up their own toys, they can match socks, they can unload the silver ware from the DW, they can help empty trash cans, they can help feed a pet, they can dust (baseboards, shelves, books), etc. this is way for them to earn to be able to give.

    In our house, the kids have chores because they are part of the family, they get a small allowance so they can learn to give, save and spend. Those two are not linked. We also have extra chores, like Kristen, that they can do to earn more money.

    Just my two cents. Merry Christmas all.

  7. 9

    annonymous says

    First time to this blog; great read!
    Aimee L, we have a similar issue here. In addition to grandparents buying lots of things throughout the year, we are a blended family & the other parents (especially my step-kids bio mom) buys them pretty much anything their little hearts desire. So while we may try to teach that responsibility & hard work = rewards and fulfillment & joy in being able to provide for some of your own wants & needs, much of our efforts are thwarted by others whose actions teach “just ask & I’ll get it/do it for you.” I don’t have the answer, but I can commiserate with you.
    As far as ideas of what to purchase for gifts….I tried talking hubby into this, but he didn’t go for it this year. We already have so much CRAP throughout our house & the kids are only there less than 50% of the time because of school & custody arrangements & really don’t even play with their stuff that much when they are home. I would really love to gift them with plans to do things that they have asked to do throughout the year that we’ve had to say no to because of finances. I’d like to set aside the $$ for it, and then give the kids “coupons” for things like “trip to amusement park” “kid’s fun zone day” “chuck e. cheese day” and stuff like that. If there are places that they’ve been asking to do individually or as a family to make it a priority to save the funds to make it happen for them. I would like to be able to give the gift of experiences and memories instead of more plastic junk that they are gonna outgrow in just a few short years anyways.

    • 9.1

      Jaclyn says

      I read a great article about this. That family came up with 3 experiences for each child, and the child got to pick which one they wanted to do. I think they also added in a couple of small gifts like books and clothes for them to open. Something I’d like to do when my kids get older…

  8. 10

    Alexia says

    This was very timely for me. We have recently been battling the entitlement with my 7-year-old and some encouragment and ideas are so helpful!

  9. 11

    Erin says

    My daughter is 4 but even last year we started having her buy gifts for everyone in the family and make gifts for grandparents and aunts and uncles. I gave her the money because she is so young, but not much. She puts so much thought into it and already she is a giver. She is just as excited to see her little brother open gifts as she is to get them herself. I say, do it as soon as they can understand what it means. We also have a box in our house that we fill up with her very own toys that she has outgrown or doesn’t play with that we take to the children’s home. That way the gifts are straight from her. She loves it, and prays for the kids all the time.

  10. 12

    Aleise says

    Around our house, homemade is ALWAYS a great way to give gifts. Costs nothing except a child’s (or your) time and is all the more precious for the creativity and love that goes into the gift. My younger daughter is always SO excited about giving us the little trinkets she’s made with love and it makes me happy to see her joy in giving her gifts. Encourage your children to make gifts for others by doing this yourself! Some of our best and favorite gifts are the ones that were handmade – ornaments with handprints, drawings, beloved comfy pjs, hand-knitted socks, our very own batch of party mix (a big favorite when I was a teen to get my own batch that I didn’t have to share). A great way to teach the importance of the gift and not the money spent!

  11. 13

    Karyl says

    What a great post. You can’t hammer this theme hard or often enough. We just had a conversation with our daughter at dinner that went something like, “Actually, you are not special. You are a blip on the timeline of the Earth. You are a grain of sand on a beach that now has 7 billion other grains in it. And that’s why it’s amazing that Jesus came and died for you.” Of course, our kidlet thought about it and replied, “Well, I think I’m at least three grains of sand,” but I think we’re making headway!

  12. 14

    Cara says

    I love this idea! Too early for us to use it as my oldest is only 2, but I definitely plan to implement this when she’s older!

  13. 17

    Stacy says

    Wow. I am new to this blog but your wisdom is spot on. Our lives are parallel this week. THANK YOU for sharing. I love it.

  14. 18

    says

    Yes, I agree with your points Kristen. Just want to be careful using Glen Beck as a credible source. His interpretation of scripture is highly questionable.

  15. 19

    Lysa DeVinney says

    Right on! It’s hard, but choose not to allow my children to grow up and conform to our society of entitlement. I have chosen to not take my kids their lunch they forgot and guess what, they stopped forgetting their lunch. Amazing, right? Keep up the good work, I appreciate your putting this out there so eloquently.

  16. 22

    Jane says

    Why do you give your kids money every month? What do they do to earn it? Isn’t that entitlement right there? Our kids don’t get anything but are still expected to do chores around the house because they live here.

    If our kids want to get their siblings present then we make them be creative and make something with things they already have access to. Cards, home made crafts, baked goods or do a service for them… Christmas is not about buying presents but showing people that you care.

    • 22.1

      Skye says

      I know for us that we give our kids money every month because we feel that is our responsibility to teach them how to budget, save, spend and donate. If we do it now while they are young then they can make mistakes and learn from them. I just hope that when they are young adults that money is not a novelty and a fun new “toy” to begin experiencing. Too many people don’t understand the value of money and especially don’t know how to manage it. What a gift to my children that they can make their mistakes now as children that will teach them things like saving, looking for the best value but also quality, budgeting etc.
      We have already had huge breakthroughs with a few of our children. One in particular….we took our first trip to Disneyland last November and my 9 year old son had saved his money for months for the trip (which is very hard for him because he LOVES Legos). We talked to them about the inflated prices and how they needed more money for similar items that they could find at other stores. They still bought a thing or two at Disneyland but they didn’t spend all their money (especially him). They know when something is overpriced or junk because they have already been using their own money for real ‘life’ purchases.
      He did end up buying a toy sword and had to tell everyone about what a good purchase it was because of the quality and thickness of the plastic and how great the price was. He was proud about his find.
      I am pretty confident when he is a young adult on his own he will not be buying crap because he finally has his own money to spend. He will be responsible and do well in life financially because of the lessons he is learning now.

    • 22.2

      says

      Jane, our kids are given an allowance every two weeks–they get paid when we get paid–in order to teach them about budgeting and tithing. They would have had no other way to earn money when they were younger (they’re older now). They have been responsible to buy all of their clothes, pay for all of their entertainment, and buy their college textbooks on the small amount we give them each month. And we have expected them to give to God from the time they were four years old. Each of our kids has learned to shop sales for the best deals, to wait for what they really want (if it’s a more expensive item), and to hold their money very loosely as they give generously to others. I’m delighted to see how they have grown in their spending habits. My oldest is graduating from college this year and will need to buy her first car; I’m happy to say that she has saved for it and will pay cash for a used car. (She has also learned that debt is not her friend.)

      We do not tie their allowance to chores around the house because we expect them, as members of our family, to do chores. They shouldn’t have to get paid to do them. Just our opinion on that–I realize others believe differently.

  17. 24

    Stephanie says

    Generally a reasonable response, however, it falls short when it comes to teaching the kids to plan ahead. It also gives the kids the false idea that there will always be work or money-earning opportunities available in the real (grown-up) world when you want them. I would almost rather have seen you encourage the kids to come up with creative non-spending solutions to gift ideas.

  18. 25

    says

    thank you for posting this. this is something that I think about frequently, and I love coming across others that think similarly! We limit Christmas gifts in our home (3 under 5 years), and ask others to do the same. They seem to appreciate more when there is less to dig through….ugh! I love your idea on the board with the list of things that can be done to earn money. My oldest has a reward jar, and when she does something that goes above and beyond what was asked or expected, she gets a coin. Then, she gets to spend that money in a way that she would like (like frozen yogurt out!) She is still young to grasp some of these ideas, I hope and pray that I can train her (and the other two) how to be responsible adults and know how to work for the things that you want (and to want/expect less!).

  19. 26

    says

    Love this advice.
    right now my kids are 4, 6 and 9. We don’t give a weekly allowance, but my eldest (boy) can earn money by doing tasks outside of his regular chores. Right now we still pay for the gifts they give to each other because of this — but I do ask them to think about what they would like to give the other person. I encourage them to really think about what they like, what are their interests, what could they use, or what would make them happy/feel good. etc. I think that’s an important first step to gift giving: Knowing the recipient. That way each of them gets a gift from the other 2 that was very thoughtful and unexpected. It won’t be something they has asked for – but they will love it. The pay for it yourself rule will be established afterward.

  20. 27

    Audrey says

    Stephanie, I think both philosophies have merit. My brother and I grew up getting a small allowance. It taught us to tithe and to save and to buy things for others. Did it teach us to expect there would always be work for us? Maybe. When we needed/wanted more money than our allowances we found jobs (which then made us forfeit our allowance): paper routes, babysitting, yard work for neighbors. During high school and college we both worked jobs. And after college we both worked 2 jobs. Has it always been easy to find a job? No. I cold called every lawyer in my city, but eventually found a great summer job through that. It took me a year to find a teaching job, meanwhile I waited tables and was a substitute. So I guess yes, I always expected there would be work for me and there was.

  21. 28

    susan says

    Nice article! I am an RN working on a psych unit, and I see everyday the effects of entitlement. I see adults in their 20’s and 30’s who always had everything they ever wanted given to them while growing up, and now they just don’t get it. They are unemployed, either living with parents or with one friend or relative after another, or on the street. Having been given everything they ever wanted without working for it while growing up, they don’t feel that they should work for anything now. They were raised to think they could do no wrong, but instead of growing up to have high self-esteem, they have grown up unable to function. They cannot take disappointment of any kind. So we have a generation of kids that don’t want to work and can’t function as adults. Because they have no coping skills of any kind to deal with life, they become depressed and often turn to drugs and/or alcohol to feel better. Then, they end up on our unit, depressed, suicidal, and addicted.

  22. 29

    says

    This is so true! And it makes me angry when I try to instill values in my kids then in one day they spend with a self-entitled child they come home with that same attitude. I have to start all over reinforcing our values again. It’s an every day battle. This “I gotta have it now” attitude isn’t new. But I wonder when it became the norm rather than an exception? And why?

      • 30.1.2

        Jennifer says

        Great post, Kristen. Wish I’d read it a few months ago, to get more ideas to keep my son on track for Christmas!

        As far as mentioning God, I’m not trying to be combative, Carol, but Kristen states in the blurb about herself at the top of the page that God comes first with her. I’m not sure why you’d be surprised she mentioned him in this article. I’d be more surprised if she didn’t mention God in any article that has to do with a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ.
        It seems it’s becoming more and more common for people to choose to be offended by other people’s faith, as if its mere existence is an affront to them. You may not believe as she does, but she has a different perspective from yours, and she can write what’s in her heart for her own blog. Agreeing to disagree is what freedom is all about.

    • 30.2

      Heather says

      Carol,
      Whether or not, the author mentions “God”, it is still a great article. God is important in her world and she is writing the article so though you don’t have to agree with everything she says, you shouldn’t discredit a bunch of good points for that little thing. I too rolled my eyes when “God” was brought into this article but the only thing she said was the mention of a person being of value before God so what is the harm in that? just the mere mention of the word? Grow up.. You’re making other agnostics/atheists look bad..

  23. 33

    Lorin says

    I agree with the same question a couple people at the top had. My kids are 9, 7 and 5. We do not allow them to have money. If they get money for a birthday we hold it for them. They know how to count money and stuff really well just from school. We just do not want it to be any kind of focus for them until they are older. I agree with the other things, especially the part about teaching them patience. We gave all of our friends advent calenders, about 40 kids and about half of them have already reported that they or one of their siblings ate all the chocolates already. It baffles me that people’s kids do not ask before taking. My kids are doing it properly and are down to day 2 of the calenders. It hit me that it really teaches them discipline and patience. So, I would say if you give your kid advent calender and it cannot last 24 days, that is a SIGN.

  24. 34

    D says

    You are incorrect. I do not believe you should give money for chores. That is what our kids are expected to do while living in our home.

  25. 35

    Fran says

    For a dose of levity, we knew our then eight year old daughter had learned entitlement when she refused to do something we asked her to do because she “already had all the money she needed.”
    Say whaaat?
    Needless to say the allowance stopped on that day. From then on, unless it was for something she truly needed she had to earn the money to purchase what she wanted. There were gifts, of course. But no more money “just because.”

  26. 36

    Marie says

    I loved reading your text! I felt like we are THAT family too :) Some chores our boys (8 and 10) don’t get paid for – but extra chores we do pay them. We have for the last 3 years given them a monthly allowance (depending on how much extras they have done) – and they ARE learning how to manage their money. In the beginning they (mostly the older one) wanted to spend everything. Now, they both are saving their money – they have goals. Now they are both saving up money for our trip to Sweden next year to visit family. Keep on writing – I love reading it! :) Wishing you and THAT family a wonderful Christmas!

  27. 38

    Duddytri1 says

    Those jobs are call chores in my house and growing up. Got a allowance or 25-50 cents 2 buck when we got into highschool but had to buy our lunches with it. Another time but that was a good sum of money at time. We had to half in the bank.

  28. 39

    Melanie says

    The meaning of Joy:

    J – Jesus
    O – Others
    Y – Yourself

    If you live your life putting these things in this order – your life will have true JOY.
    God bless you this holiday season!

    Melanie

  29. 40

    Gaylene Duke says

    One great idea our school had this year was to provide the kids with “Santa’s Toy shop”. School families donated new and used gift items for a month leading up to it. Items went on tables for 1, 2, 3,4 and 5 dollars. My children had a wish list that told their teachers how much to spend and for who. Example: 2 dollars for Mom. Up to a max of 5 items. My kids are 5 and 6 and were able to shop for and buy gifts for everyone using their own money. They were so proud to wrap those gifts up and put them under the tree. The money raised by the toy shop was given to charity. I am still excited to see what they chose for me. The presents are under the tree. As a parent I am definitely going to recommend dong Santa’s Toy Shop every year! Thanks for the post. A great reminder that kids need to take responsibility.

  30. 41

    Carol says

    Dave Ramsey’s website has fantastic, simple ideas for helping little ones learn about money. He is a believer of household responsibilities that are expected for no money and others that the child earns a commission. In other words, you work you get paid, don’t work don’t get paid. He believes allowance is another word for welfare. If the parents are fiscally responsible individuals, then they can teach their children. The attitude of gratitude is taught, so is entitlement. Wish I could change a few things we did when ours were young, but grateful that we never went in to debt for Christmas and they were always grateful for each and every gift under the tree. It really is about gratitude!!

  31. 42

    Sheena says

    I really loathe the kind of thinking in most of these comments. You guys are all talking about entitlement and be grateful for what you have. But in the same breath you complain about your “overly-involved” mother-in-laws? Why don’t you try being grateful that your kids are loved and your in-laws want to spoil them. Geez!! My in-laws are horrible, mean people. They could care less if our kids have anything. Ya’ll are so busy trying to keep your kids from have too much you don’t even see that there is another side of that. The people that wish they had a good family. This whole thing boils my blood. Have any of you ever considered that gifts could be grandmas love language? Maybe that’s just how she shows and recieves love. But good for you for being so caugh up in life lessons you would rather rob her of that than see it from her point of view. Congratulations, talk about first world problems.

    • 42.1

      Mia says

      Thank you for seeing these comments and pointing the light in another direction. Wish my kids could see and read your response. I’m one of those grandparents who gifted her kids and especially her grands because I love them so much. Yes, it’s my LOVE language. I enjoy giving. The response from my children has been negative and hurtful. They don’t see a need to buy me gifts and one doesn’t even see a need to acknowledge my birthday. I get a phone call on Mother’s Day but that was it……no time, no gifts, not even a meal. DEPRESSING to the point I now HATE Mother’s day! This Christmas I won’t even see or hear from one child or be allowed to see that grandchild. I thought I did a better job of raising my kids but evidently I’m a HUGE failure. Would you like to be adopted?

    • 42.2

      alli says

      I understand this there is a balance tho i grew up in an abusive home and to make up for it i was given looks of stuff. The problem is i would have rather had a happy family. And it made me feel as tho i was entitled to things. So i have character issues due to not having a loving home and charater issues of being spoiled. Dont deprice you kids even jesus gives us what we dont deserve but also make them aware of the cost to provide things they think come so easily.

  32. 43

    Kerry T says

    I was raised with the something you want, something you need, something you read, and something you wear tradition. My grandsons, whom I have custody of, are being raised the same way. This year, each boy has bought a couple of small gifts for their younger cousins and my mother. They have also made gifts–candle holders and handprint ornaments to give to my mother. I started working against the entitlement mentality the moment that I was awarded custody, I am committed to raising responsible young men not leeches on society.

    The beauty of the human experience is that we do not all have to agree on the best course of action to take when raising children (or grand children). It matters more that we are present active role models who are actively involved in parenting.

  33. 44

    Shawn Elizabeth Kispert says

    Each year for approximately 15 years, I secretly cashed a $100 check and went about giving out $20 randomly each Christmas. A teen pumping gas, a mom struggling to get kids into a car alone, a kid with his dad buying mom a gift. a clerk who was NOT nice to me, an older man just walking around a store.. I just did it because I remember very clearly a man who did this for me and three broke friends in high school one year.

    This year, I gave all three of my grown children cash gifts for Christmas early. What they don’t know is they will be receiving a letter from me this Christmas with $10 in it. And asking them to do this also when they can. It’s not a big lesson, but it is my gift to them this season.

  34. 46

    C@c.com says

    Someone took should teach our president this lesson…
    If you want to talk about entitlement, he seems to think that all of our money is his.
    He is entitled to do whatever he wants to with your civil liberties your health care and your money.

  35. 47

    Justathought says

    Thank you for writing this. It gives me hope. I’m a teacher and in this generation the entitlement issue has been a hot topic as well as something we have called ‘learned helplessness’ (meaning many kids wait for adult to do things for them, because they think they can’t, or just don’t want to). It’s pretty sad when much of what we deal with during the day is the behaviors of which you wrote about. Sadly, it has made many of us wonder if they are getting the learning and life skills required for life. Some parents don’t wish their kids to fail. I admit I want my children to. I want them to fail, so they can learn how to get back up. I want them to not get every gift they want on their Christmas list, so they can appreciate what they have and work for what they don’t. Lastly I hope all of them get at least one or two teachers they hate. That way they will learn that in the real world, they will have to work with people (and bosses) they may not like.

  36. 48

    Emily says

    Great article and all good points. But while you’re at it, you might want to teach kids what responsible shopping means, too. Target is one of many stores that sell cheap stuff in North America that’s made by what amounts to slave labour in non-North American work camps. They actively discourage unionization to inflate their profits by avoiding fair wage scales, and benefits for their employees. The only way we can change this is by carefully choosing where we open our wallets.

  37. 50

    Monica says

    I’m not a parent, but I was once a child (Crazy, I know). My mother did this thing every Christmas since we were really little. We called it “Angel Day” and it was when we’d go to our mall and run up to the Good Samaritan station. My brothers and I would pick out an “angel” from the tree with a gift request. My mother would give us a limit (wouldn’t be anything crazy) and then it would be almost like a treasure hunt for us. Honestly, that’s kind of how I learned about tax and what would put my gift over the budget, etc. lol. We’d know from the beginning that these gifts were not for us but for other kids who didn’t have as much. We would find our gifts, my mom would pay, and then we’d grab an ice cream cone from McDonalds.

    Unfortunately, we hit some rough times when I was about 11, and I remember my mother telling us that we couldn’t do Angel Day that year. So, as the eldest, I hatched a plan. My brothers and I scraped up as much money as we could through selling lemonade, homemade cards (Can’t believe people actually paid money for those), and looking under couch cushions. I think we were finally able to scrape together about $20. My mother took us to the mall and we were able to get at least one gift for a kid. This Angel Day stuck with me.

    Anyway, the lesson I learned from all this was to train the first kid so that they can influence the others. lol. Kidding aside, I think even if the kids are too young, it’s always good to lead by example. And having a fun tradition encouraging gift giving is a good thing. I wouldn’t have gone as long as my mom though. I’m 33 now and I can’t believe she didn’t make us work for that money starting at 7. The older I get, the more I’m realizing that my mom wasn’t as strict as she seemed. =P

  38. 51

    says

    With our first daughter, we sort of went overboard, but we quickly got the picture when she was 18 months old, and was perfectly content with just a few things, but once she got through with all the things, she just wanted more. From then on, and since we had another little one, and eventually 6 in all, that we would get them each one “big” gift, and 2 smaller ones. We tried to get them as the bigger gift, a really wanted gift. Our children had chores they had to do as part of the family, allowances never seemed to work for us but after reading the article, I wish it had come along when we were raising our children. my husband was Military and often gone but we still managed to keep animals, lived off base most of the time and the last few years before he retired we lived on 80 acres. They fed chickens, sheep, cows and horses, cleaned stalls, washed dishes, etc. They have all grown up to be responsible, caring and sharing adults, not without some hitches along the way but all pretty much doing well. For myself, one of the greatest gifts I got, as an adult, was a box from home filled with a variety of home made cookies and candy that my Mom had spent the time making just for us. We still talk about that one and how much we all loved it.
    J

  39. 52

    says

    I whole heartedly agree with everything you have said in this article. Kids these days have such a sense of self entitlement. They want everything given to them without having to work for it. I have a teenage stepson who constantly asks his father to get him things because his friends get it. My oldest stepson actually told me that I was selfish for choosing to sell my used car when I got a newer used car. Let me tell you how I broke it down for him. I said that I didn’t actually have enough money to purchase the newer used car, so I was going to put the money that I got from selling my older used car towards purchasing the newer used car and then the rest of the money I would need to get a bank loan to pay the rest. I said to him, “If I give you my old car, then I have to get an even bigger car loan. That’s the same as me getting a car loan to pay for your car. Does that sound fair to you that I have to get a car loan to get you a car?” Silence. He thought that we should get him a car because his friends’ parents bought them cars and paid for the gas and insurance. Oh, and he had even told me that one of his friends had a nicer car than his own dad who had purchased the car for his friend. My response, “So your dad spent all of his money buying a car for his son that he can’t afford to buy a nicer car for himself. Does that sound smart to you?” Again, silence. So tired of this me, me, me generation and the parents who fuel this lazy, self-centred generation. I can guarantee that most parents will not be able to afford to retire because they are spending all of their money and more on their kids to make their lives as comfy as possible. Essentially, they are raising their children to fail at life because they are not teaching them about hard work and putting in the effort to get things they want/need.

  40. 54

    Kelly says

    I really feel that the elf on the shelf is your issue… not the child’s. You are the one unwilling to do it, please don’t that off on to your child. Sure, we can’t have everything we desire in life… but you are turning your child down and saying no because you just don’t want too be bothered with it. Great article though. You hit on really good points that will make a lot of parents rethink their parental role.

  41. 56

    LizziB says

    Some of this can only work in a healthy family. I’ve tried the “Bank of Dad” to get allowance started for extra jobs for my kdis, but the Bank of Dad has to also agree and be consistent. In my own childhood I was shamed for not having money to buy the person I picked a gift, but as a child I had no money! It would have been so very much more encouraging if my parents had the list of extra chores for money idea, instead of picking the moment to shame. Healthy family dynamics is what kids want for Christmas and all year. Thank you for shining the light.

  42. 57

    Ramona says

    How funny this thread is, my kids were never given an allowance, if they wanted something it was up to them to come up with the money. I didn’t have the money to give them. They know how difficult things are and they both now are in college and work. My son worked his junior and senior year in high school and worked 2 years before starting college. He helped us with bills. Our Christmas has never been about presents. Everyone works, we take a day off, we fix a big feast, and we eat and play games and tell each other how much we love each other.

  43. 58

    KathyTobacco says

    You don’t know how good you have it, that your children want to go buy gifts for you and your husband. Not all children even express such an idea. They might think of their friends but worrying about giving Mom and Dad gifts is pretty sweet. It sounds like you have great children and you expect a lot out of them. You should be very grateful as well as proud.

  44. 59

    Valerie says

    Great ideas! We had a conversation with our girls (age 8 and 10) and asked them whether they want us to be a family that wants to have a lot of stuff or a family that goes to fun places together (which always costs a fair bit of money for us because we live is a pretty remote place/water access only). Of course we already knew the answer – otherwise we wouldn’t have asked – but we wanted them to be reminded that we need to align our spending with our values. We’re not fanatical about it though – they are both each getting one pretty major thing that they had on their wish list and a few little things. In terms of buying gifts we do a gift exchange so they only have one person to buy for and they do that out of their own money. Plus they make stuff.

  45. 60

    says

    Preach it! As mom to 2 biological and 3 adopted children, the sense of entitlement in my adopted kids has been a real struggle. They have had to be parented differently because they all have reactive attachment disorder, and until there is real attachment there is no ability to understand why everything isn’t handed to them. It has taken years of hard work and diligent parenting, but they are now good workers and understand the value of money and family. Your post is spot on. Thanks!

  46. 61

    Kendria says

    I’d like to offer up a little different viewpoint. (Full disclosure: I’m a 20-something, nearly 30. Married, but no kids yet.) My family was soooo nervous as they watched me grow up in a household where I was the only child, and my mom and dad seemed to give me everything I needed and most of what I wanted. I never had mandatory chores (also never had an allowance). My Grandma, Aunts, etc. warned my mom that I’d grow up to be a brat – ungrateful, and unaware of the value of a dollar. Instead, I grew up seeing the sheer JOY my parents got from being able to give me nice things. I enjoyed my things and took really good care to make them last. These days, I still enjoy nice things. But I also really really LOVE giving – from panhandlers, to non-profits, to my close family, and friends. Receiving made me generous – not entitled or stingy. Sometimes, spoiled people spoil people! I admire the loving, strategic, approach you all are taking. But I just wanted to testify that my mom gave me everything she could afford to give me without asking anything in return except my love/respect/good grades. And it didn’t ruin me. It made me conscious of and secure in God’s abundant supply and provision for my everyday life, rather than fostering a scarcity mentality. Who knows what I’ll do when I have my own children…

  47. 63

    Mum says

    It is your responsibility to teach your children how to budget, prepare them and warn them if upcoming expenditures are coming up. Allowance of once a month is difficult to manage, I would suggest weekly. If they have a job I suggest they spend 30% and bank 70%. Children are not going to innately know what you want them to value. YOU need to teach them dear author.

  48. 64

    Mia says

    I appreciate this article very much. Although my children are grown, I have took and have taken a similar approach with my children and now my grandchildren. My adult children remember me giving them THREE gifts just as Christ was given THREE gifts by the wise men. They usually got pajamas, a toy they requested and a surprise. When they mentioned this tradition recently, it made me smile. In future years I’ve told my children I don’t want anything except to adopt a needy family, buy for that family so my grandchildren can experience the gift of giving and then return to my house for a meal. They like the idea and I’m proud they do.

  49. 65

    Erika says

    Wonderfully written!

    We don’t give our children money for gifts or even shopping. My older ones often comment how most of their friends get an allowance but don’t have to do anything (“going to school is their job”) – we’ve explained that this is not reality. There aren’t too many jobs that pay well for you just showing up! You need to actually work to earn good money – you EARN it. They get gifts from my parents ($1-5/holiday) but otherwise, they need to earn the money they want to spend.

    I also agree that “reality” TV is not a good influence. The reality is that most people don’t live like those on reality TV. IF they did, they wouldn’t be rewarded.

  50. 66

    Phil Sims says

    I’m old now! I was raised in the 40’s and 50’s. This “Entitlement” philosophy piece was the way things were back then. There was no social media, no computers, not even TV. We invented games and played as kids (very few kids were fat). We were taught the need for work if you wanted to buy anything. Yes, we got allowances but we had to do chores to earn them. If we wanted more we had to “get a job” (novel idea). I served watermelon as a 10 year old (today my employer would be arrested), then got a paper route which provided me with spending money for years.

    When I say this out loud I see eyes roll back in young people’s heads (even my 40/50 year old kids). But I picked up a work ethnic that has served me for life. I never drew welfare, food stamps or even unemployment. Today I’m retired, not rich by any standard, but very independent. I would get a job again if I needed one.

  51. 68

    GRS says

    Excellent article and expecting our children and teaching them responsibility is something for the most part not being done today. In the old days very few people had extra money and we knew it had to be earned. I remember racing other kids to get jobs like shoveling snow, racking leaves, mowing lawns ECT. Today you can’t bribe kids to do any of these things as they don’t have to. They talk about the poor but in my time the poor would have been in hog heaven compared to the way we had it and there was no such thing as a job an American wouldn’t do.

  52. 70

    says

    Thanks for an excellent read. We struggle with this too, it’s nice to see others do too (in a selfish way), but also to get ideas that we can use. Thank you.

    One thing we’ve been lucky to be involved with is a kids market (called BizKidz) in a localish shopping mall. They let the kids sell stuff on their own stalls once a month. They have to pay $10 to get a stall but then can earn money by selling things. It shows them how the real world works. Some days they make enough to only just cover their stall fee. Others they make 2-3 times their monthly pocket money. They have found where to buy product that is not readily available around here and sell it, bake items to sell, take items that they no longer use to sell, and sometimes I sell them cards I make and they then onsell them. It’s been brilliant. My twins are only 10, but they love working out how they will earn money that month and also how to talk to people and negotiate with them too.

  53. 71

    Sioux Thompson says

    I really love this post and the “Chores to Earn Christmas Money.” A mentor parent/friend uses a similar strategy in place of a regular allowance for his kids (both teenagers now). Each kid is expected to do a set of regular chores as part of being a contributing family member: make your bed, keep your room tidy, do your homework without being nagged, clear table/wash dishes, feed the dog. There’s a list on the fridge of additional chores with a set dollar amount (mow front lawn: $10; front and back: $25) so there’s no argument about how long the task took. The deal they’ve struck with the kids is, “When you want money for a date, or a movie, or a present for a friend, I am not The Bank of Dad. You can choose the chore, and we will gladly pay you for its completion.” It works! There’s no whining, or arguments or wheedling about money. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.

  54. 72

    Kathy says

    This is wonderful! We are not going to have kids, but I see this awful entitlement epidemic around me all the time. It drives me crazy because that’s not the way I was raised! I also teach at the college level, and I’m seeing the result of this type of parenting coming out in these kids. They expect you to ‘give’ them grades instead of earning them. I’m also encouraged by reading the comments of other parents. There seems to be a lot more people out there doing what you’re doing or something similar. Keep up the great work parents!!

  55. 73

    kerrmit says

    Glen Beck is an A1 a-hole and if you’re making parenting decisions based on anything he believes, we’re all doomed.

  56. 75

    says

    I worked and volunteered for several years as a budget and credit counselor. One of the best things to teach your children is that spending money is always a choice. Don’t use the phrase “we can’t afford it.” Say instead, “we have a certain amount of money to spend and we are choosing to spend it on this . . .”

    We tried something new this year with our grandchildren. In the past, as part of their gift, we made donations to different charities. This year we formed a “Foundation” with them as the Board of Directors. They are 10, 9, 7, 7 and 6. They did the research and decided by voting who to donate to this year. Their choices were: Earth Day Network, ASPCA, World Vision and Ronald McDonald House.

    Since this was our first year to do this, we funded it. For next year, I intend to have a chore list at our house for them to earn money for the Foundation for 2014.

  57. 76

    Kathleen says

    Chores are suppose to be a weekly thing.
    It’s called not being a lazy pile of…….
    If you want your kid to earn honest money, chose an obstacle that shows difficulty that also matches their age.
    A ten year old should be doing the dishes after being fed, etc, without thought.
    …as a pure sign of respect towards their parents.
    Raking, cleaning their room, that’s called being a decent human being.
    If your kid isn’t smart or old enough to even file job from an office or worksite,
    Have them double, even triple up at home. Or do the equivalent for a neighbor who can’t.

  58. 78

    says

    Definitely employing this idea. I’ve been struggling for years about how to balance the house chores and money and kid’s esteem. This is great!!!

    • 79.1

      Laurie says

      if u r going to read a blog don’t nit-pick. She says very clearly, God 1st, others 2nd, self 3rd. That leaves spell check WAY down on the list! lol

  59. 80

    Laurie says

    i loved your article. i have been struggling w/the children and money forever. they are 8&10 yr old girls… i was constantly monitoring it to make sure they spent it wisely and then just gave up. my oldest spent $20 on gum. ok. so we discouraged cash gifts this year. I also struggle w/allowance. Like, i think if you live here you should help out. they think if they live here they should get paid, lol. we need to find a happy medium. you get an allowance for helping our family “run”…if you want to EARN extra money…here is the list…Wow. i think u figured it out for me. love your blog…

  60. 81

    Mary Armstrong says

    Whatever happened to “make your gift”, give love and kindness and understand the worth of what is wanted and given. I grew up on a farm–when there were years of little money for anyone (in the 1940’s) We made things in school to give to the parents for Christmas and they were truly treasured! Parents often made gifts or shopped at the five and dime. My mom wrapped every small 10-15 Cent gift with love and happiness. We, being on the farm were not “wanting” for food, cause we did have most which we raised or planted and canned. Christmas was not….how much money can you GIVE to me….if that is “entitlement,” Christmas meant ….how much love, consideration, fun and the joy can you make on the Christmas Day. So this belief is something that today, might be wise to remember or learn about. I know….can’t make an iPhone, iPad, electronic games and all that “stuff.” However, do they really make “children” happy and healthy? And if those children want or cry cause they must have them, they need to learn to earn them!. MJ

  61. 82

    August says

    We do “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” and it has really simplified Christmas. Also, we start around September reminding them that the money they earn for “money chores” (not all chores earn them money–some are just things they have to do to be responsible) will be used to buy a Christmas gift for their secret Santa (we have them draw names since there are eight of us!). This helps them remember to keep a portion of their money to use on a gift for someone else. For the last several years we have made it amply clear that we do not give them money for this gift. They are free to make something for their secret Santa and not spend money on that person, but they won’t get help from us.

    I wanted to say that the lunch thing, in today’s culture, doesn’t work. If your child forgets his lunch or lunch money, they will just give them a lunch at school and make you pay for it. I guess you could make your child pay for it, but it certainly doesn’t get the message across as simply as “you forget your lunch, you don’t eat”. Since my kids make their own lunches, they tend to not forget because it’s part of their morning routine. But one time when my child forgot his lunch, the school provided one and he did not learn anything immediately and having him earn the pennies to pay for it didn’t sink in as clearly as it would have if he hadn’t been able to eat that one time.

  62. 84

    Brenda says

    Great article…It made me realize that I have been enabling my oldest granddaughter. Lord give me wisdom and strength to change my ways. While I love her dearly, I realize that I have been crippling her by always bailing her out. Hard work worked for me.

  63. 85

    Kim says

    So glad to hear someone else said no to the Elf on the Shelf! I too had to endure the whining of my kids but I don’t need another tradition/job and it also creeps me out!

  64. 86

    Laurie Rose says

    It is never too early to start your kids on earning to give gifts. If they voice their desire to give a gift, then they are old enough to “earn” the money for the gift. My daughter was 3 the first time she said she wanted to buy a gift for daddy for Christmas. I asked her if she wanted to make one or earn money to buy one. At that young age, the “earning” would be helping mommy feed the dog, helping mommy make her bed, etc. She did choose to make a gift that year because she loves art. At 4 she wanted to earn her money to buy a gift. That year she dusted my living room, helped me take the recycling out to our bin and put the silverware away. When her daddy opened her gift, she was able to say she bought it for him with her own money that she earned!

  65. 88

    says

    Great article. I hear and see kids everywhere with this mentality and it’s a common theme among friends of both my children but something I won’t tolerate it from my kids.

    It’s unfortunate but we have a couple of generations of youth that will enter the workforce and “real life” to be totally shellshocked that everything is not instantly handed over to them.

  66. 89

    Jo says

    Fabulous article & sadly all too true. Parents don’t want to be parents to their children and set limits say ‘no’ building resilience & self worth self esteem or learning to be rewarded ‘intrinsically’ instead they strive to be their child’s friend & the children expecting ‘extrinsic’ rewards constant praise for every little thing they do say ….
    Parents grandparents aunts uncles etc should be respected.
    Self esteem / worth & resilience comes from learning that ‘I’ am valuable for ME and the ‘reward’ of knowing that ‘I’ have something or hard work or creative… worth doing all by myself!!!

  67. 90

    Malia says

    This was a great article. But the Glen Beck reference made me feel sick to my stomach–he’s not someone I would possibly want to model myself or my children after.

  68. 91

    Peter La Fond says

    As an only child by default i got what i wanted, and also did not have to guard my stuff. The overall result was an indifference to material wealth upon becoming an adult. This is not a good thing in our society as wanting stuff is waht drives our economy. Another thing for me is that because my stuff did not get broken or lost by siblings i have no issue giving my stuff away for nothing, not did i develop that ” errrrrrrrr my space stuff, stay away errrrrrrrrr” That is another problem because in our society rolling people is okay if you can get away with it. I learned… hah bet you did not expect this observation.

  69. 94

    Smylie says

    Do not ever think your kids are too young to earn money themselves! I grew up very poor, so getting handed money was never really an option. But I will still tell you that one experience that had the most profound affect on me money0wise happened while I was in elementary school.

    In order to get Christmas money, my brother and I were allowed to go to the walnut orchard of my grandmother’s neighbor and pick walnuts up from the ground and put into large burlap sacks. We earned 50 cents per sack (and I am not that old, really LOL). It was hard work, and I remember doing it for maybe a month. For my efforts, I was paid about $6, which was to spend at my school’s Christmas bazaar. The items there were in truth silly simple little handmade gifts moms brought in, but I can tell you I felt like king of the world spending my own money on gifts I picked out special for my family! It was the first year I ever bought things on my own, and boy did I take care in selecting the best things I could, comparing prices and all that LOL. I can still see the tables and the trinkets and still feel the pride in that moment today, 30 odd years later. I can only hope I have given the same kind of experience to my kids.

  70. 95

    Sammimaria says

    I love this!!!! I have 3 children 23, 9 and 7. My oldest has graduated college and had plans of moving back home and staying with us until she is DEBT-FREE! I absolutely cannot have her here a minute longer. She had a deadline of August 30th to move out. My husband and I don’t know where we went WRONG, as she has this sense of “entitlement” . She doesn’t do any chores, does not contribute to the household, is too “busy” to babysit while husband and I do other things. I did most of these things with her when she was younger and had no problems up until her Junior year of high school. I cut her some slack, because overall- she didn’t give me any problems with curfew, and she worked for her own expenses. When she went to college, it was difficult to enforce a curfew- so we didn’t give her one. We asked her to text or call if she was going to be later than 2 am- and let us know that she was safe. When she graduated and moved back home- she has no curfew at all. Sleeps out the entire weekend- which, was fine until she had a bed-bug incident, and then she woke us up at 3 o’clock in the morning forgot her key! Well, we have decided that she can no longer live with us and of course she thinks its unfair. You have to follow the rules eveywhere. She thinks we are the worst- but I think its time she moved on and got her own place.

  71. 96

    Gaylene says

    Two things,

    1. I am a teacher and at our school we do Santa’s workshop every year just before Christmas. Families donate gently used items, and we set up tables in the gym for one dollar or two. The children can bring five dollars and choose gifts for their whole families. I really think our families like this idea a lot. The kids sure love it. I made my own children who are five and six bring their own money to buy the gifts. I got a really nice watering can!

    2. Birthday party solutions…..as a parent, I struggle with birthday parties. You invite ten kids, they all bring a twenty dollar gift, and your little one is left with a million new toys they never play with. W have just started a new policy for birthday parties at our house. On the invitation we ask the kids to bring a loonie or a toonie (that means one or two dollars in Canadian) to give to the birthday kid instead of a present. We also ask them to give a food bank donation. My own children use half of their money to choose one gift of their choice, and the other half goes to charity. This teaches the value of giving, and loving the one new toy, instead of one hundred new things at once. I really love this solution and plan to use it as long as I can.

  72. 97

    says

    Thank you for a great article, you are sharing so many truths. Wish more parents could see through all that this world offer their kids, and not just buy into every trend and every wish!

  73. 99

    Heather says

    Great article. I love the aspect of earning money to buy gifts for others. Our family gets together to make presents for each other instead of having the kids buy presents for each person. It’s such a fun family time of memory making.

  74. 102

    says

    Thank you very much for your post, it makes us have more and more discs in our life, So kind for you, I also hope you will make more and more excellent post and let’s more and more talk, thank you very much, dear.

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