Are We Raising Entitled Kids?

In a day and age where everything is so instant gratification, I worry that not only we are creating a “give me” society, but that our children are growing up feeling entitled because of what we are teaching them.  I’m not sure what happened to the time where we were training our children up to think for themselves, take pride in themselves, work hard for things as well as take responsibility for his or her own actions {you know, accountability}?

Let me give you a little real world example that happened here in our family.  It was very small potatoes, but gives you a quick illustration of the point.

graham in techni color

Graham had been suffering from strep throat turned staph that started to show on his lips.  Before we were aware of what was going on we thought we should send him to school with Chapstick.   The school counselor in me instantly thought, “this kid could very easily be distracted by this Chapstick ” as my husband slid it into Graham’s pocket.  I pushed the thought aside and sent him on to school reminding him to only use the Chapstick once or twice when he really needed it (like after lunch).

When I picked him up from school he quickly said, “Mom, I got on “red” (red is the worst color on the behavior chart) today because I had Chapstick ”  Now, my first thought could’ve have been “Wow!  What a harsh way to react to Chapstick!”  Instead I asked Graham what he had done in order to deserve the “red”.  “Nothing mom.  I just had Chapstick and she told me to put it away”.  Did I choose to stick with that answer?  No!  My child, as wonderful as he is, did not want to get in trouble with his parents.  Even if “red” for having Chapstick was the case then we knew never to send Chapstick to school again because it was against the rules.  I asked him again, this time making sure he knew that I thought there was more to the story.  Just as I suspected, he was told to put the Chapstick up on 2 different occasions and did not listen to the teacher, therefore, he received the “red” mark on the behavior chart as he should.

Time and time again I see this scenario being played out but with much older kids {only trade the Chapstick for something else like a cell phone}.  I’m not sure where we have come to accept that just because the rules tell us “No Chapstick Allowed” that we interpret that to mean “No Chapstick Allowed for anyone BUT me!”  Or when we automatically only listen to one side of the story and jump to conclusions?  Truly.  When did it change?  All I can think of is that it is starting with us, the parents.  Are we too quick to jump to conclusions?  Are we to quick to think only about #1?  Are we too busy making it someone else’s responsibility?

What if, instead, we decided to listen and take ownership.  What if we decided to take a moment and ponder the situation before jumping to conclusions.  What if we decided that there really were people out there who had our best interest in mind?  What if we got back to the basics of community?

Loving.  Helping.  Growing.  Building.

Friends, I think the entitlement issue starts with us and stops when we move beyond ourselves.  Our kids are watching and taking cues from our every move.  I want to make mine count.

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About Felicia

Felicia Carter is founder and managing editor of Go Grow Go. Her philosophy is to simplify, save, grow and go! Her home is generally full of DIY projects, crafts, yummy baked goods and lots of love. Felicia is also a wife, mom of 2 boys and nationally certified counselor. You can always find her near the chocolate or the coffee pot.

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  1. You know what, I saw it change when I was in high school. For a number of reasons, the teachers began being afraid of the kids. The kids could do whatever they wanted and get away with it or the parents would come up and get them in trouble. In my case, the parents felt entitled first and passed that on to the kids. I can explain more in email 🙂

  2. I agree with you, we as parents need to teach our children not to feel entitled. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of entitlement and that’s all I’m teaching them, even though consciously I’m working as hard as I can to teach them love and compassion. Sometimes I feel it’s just laziness and other times I have no idea how to make it different.

    You are right!

    • Louise,

      I think being a parent it an ever changing and ever learning process. We are all definitely going to make mistakes and just like it is part of our kids learning, it is part of our learning as well. I want to be more mindful of the way I respond to even the smallest of issues with the kids because I think that it can make all the difference when they reach high school age when it is so hard to unteach.

  3. Ok, lol since I have older girls I can easily speak to this (well, even having boys who are older than yours). I feel the same exact way. Enough so, that I have called the school to say, “My daughter is late, if she’s NOT in class, please go find her.” She was hiding in the locker room until the next class started because she didn’t want to be caught. Thankfully the school worked with me and called me back to let me know. I love my daughter and I never want to be one of those parents who thinks their child would “neeeeever do anything wrong”. It sets them up to be narcissistic and have a hard time thinking of others above themselves. As parents we need to keep our heads out of the sand and help our children to grow up to add to society, not just take. The End (lol)

  4. Oh my goodness I know exactly what you are talking about here. I have college students that try and hide texting, while I’m talking. I know that when they are looking down, and there is a glow coming from their lap what they are doing. I call them on it, their face gets red. They get a tardy. At our school we take attendance. After it gets so high it starts deducting their grade. No words need to be said from me; they are told the the rules in orientation.

    Chapstick is no big deal, but to think of it being a cell phone…well it is a big deal.

    Isaak got animal hand tattoos for Christmas. I guess when we gave him his first one last week he was playing with his hand all during preschool and at my parents. I’m thinking I should wait for the rest during spring and summer breaks.

    • I bet you see so many behaviors at the college that make your nod your head with this! See, that is what I want my boys NOT to be!

      I also gave Graham one of those hand puppets the other day! Yikes! I didn’t even think about that. Luckily it is almost washed off.

    • At my college most of the teachers expressed that they could care less if we messed around on our cells or laptops as long as we weren’t disturbing the class. They said it was our own money we were wasting and it was our choice. If we failed because we weren’t paying attention, that was our own choice. If we never wanted to show up for class except for tests, whether we fail or succeed, that’s our choice. Get disruptive in the class though and they would kick you out in an instant, and probably lock the door behind you. And we sure as heck never bothered with attendance. Best learning experience of my life.

      Part of the problem I think is that we are babying kids too much. Treating college students like they are high school students is pushing it. I now have this image in my head of a 40 year old in his cubicle being scolded by his boss like a teenager for being tardy. 

      And I know this wasn’t the point but I have been sitting here trying to work out what kind of crazy tight ass school wouldn’t allow chapstick. Did he get it taken away for playing with it, in which case sure, take it away, or did he merely have it and got told to give it up due to some asinine rule? Is he in preschool or something, I can kind of understand that if so. But saying no to something as benign as chapstick seems like extreme coddling to me.

      It’s not just that the kids are being handed everything on a silver platter, or being told they’re a special little snowflakes their entire lives, but they’re also being coddled. We treat them like children even past the age of adulthood but then turn around and expect them to act like mature adults when they’ve never had so much as a taste of what that’s like.     

    • That’s not to say that if a rule is stupid you should teach your kid that that makes it ok to ignore. But I sure as heck would fight to change a stupid rule if it truly is ridiculous, not just blindly follow the rules because they’re the rules. Listen to your teacher, follow their rules, and if a rule is stupid then wait until you get home to discuss it with me and we will go through proper channels to deal with it.

  5. Yes, our kids are entitled and spoiled, and think they are above everyone else…a product of the misguided “self esteem” movement that has fostered a “ME Generation.” As a product of the early start of that generation, I know. And I see it now in my daughter and her little friends. Everyone thinks they are super special and above everyone else. I like to think “Yes, you are special and your interests matter, but so do other people’s.” It’s sad especially in the schools when teachers are afraid of their students and their parents. I for one give them the benefit of the doubt and don’t automatically assume my child is always in the right, though she is a very well behaved child generally. But rules are rules and they are to be followed, not bent or broken altogether as it seems to be the mantra of this culture and generation. If you are a “rebel” you are cool, if you are a “bad” girl or boy you are cool. As a “good” girl all my life, I have always had a frustration with this.

  6. Betty Baez says:

    I completely agree with you. I had my tween sister over for christmas break and i felt the entire time that she acted like she was entitled to everything and i blame her parents which of course are my parents but i chose the end the cycle because i want my kids to be grateful, kind, and compassionate and not self absorbed.

    • It seems like in the tween/teen years it starts to really show doesn’t it? Maybe that is because they have had 10-18 years of reinforcement of the behaviors. I’m with you. I want to start now!

  7. It is obvious that we raise our kids with an heir of entitlement with THINGS. We are a generation of “have to have’s and can’t wait for that next best thing”. Material things are bad enough. But then couple that with trying to temper letting our kids know that they ARE special, with not letting them get all BIG about it and thinking they are beyond the rules, beyond compassion and community and think ME all the day long. We rush in mostly to rescue our kids when sometimes, Sometimes I wonder if it is our quest to not have someone think badly of US, or think WE have failed. So we rush in to fix it or make excuses for our kids. We don’t fail because our children fail or make mistakes. It is in their learning just like WE had to. I am an older mom of 52, nearing the end of raising my kids as the youngest is 13. But the oldest is 32 with a son of her own. I can surely see the generational differences, just as our parents can see it with us. I suspect that we can see that first generation of entitlement now RAISING the second generation of entitlement? I forget just when the ME generation was coined, but suspect it was in the 80s and 90’s. Which means we are now a second generational ME generation? We have to know it is not working and yes, it is time we spend more time teaching compassion and community and helping. Not excusing ourselves from the true work of life because, well we are just EXCUSED. Or teach our kids that a green piece of paper or a contact with an ‘important person” (at school, at work, within the community, etc) will make up for what you dont want to DO or be responsible for. Wow, Felicia. So awesome you took what you call a small thing and found something so important and real within it. Kudos:)

  8. Angela G says:

    Thanks for sharing. I think we all experience this with our kids (or kids we know). We do need to proactively parent in this area. With God’s help we will raise adults that others actually want to be around. 🙂


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