It is definitely true that our parenting methods are vastly different from generations past – we have far fewer kids, and we treat them as friends and equals, trying to make the family a democracy instead of what was earlier essentially a dictatorship. Earlier, responsibilities came before rights. But by giving kids rights much before they have responsibilities, if at all, we have created extremely entitled kids.
Much of the blame lies with us as parents. When a kid wants, she gets. With both parents working, most families today have more money and less time, and this reflects in our interactions with our kids. Many parents want to be the cool parent and the nice parent and this, along with the constant guilt of not spending enough time with our children, leads us to give in to their demands. But what starts off as an indulgent gift of another Barbie soon escalates into an entitled child who wants everything ‘right now,’ and thinks that the world owes him. This behaviour is not just limited to families; these children are bringing their attitudes into the workforce. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, corporations like Land’s End and Bank of America are hiring “praise teams” to keep up with Gen Y’s demand for constant positive reinforcement.
So can we change this sense of entitlement? For many teenagers, two of the methods most advocated are volunteering and going out to work. One way is to get kids to feel more empathy, by volunteering among the less fortunate. This will give them a real sense of what ‘need’ really is – ‘need’ is not the newest fashion or the latest toy, but food in the belly and just a single piece of cloth to cover oneself. And though it may not always be possible for all children to do, kids who go out and work quickly realize how hard it is to earn money, and soon develop a healthy respect for money – how difficult it is to earn, and how easy to spend.
Have you used any other methods to change this sense of entitlement in your kids? We’d love to hear from you!
This blog post is a reproduction of Gayatri Kulkarni’s blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.