Scene: we’re at the mall and my son doesn’t get his way, so he responds with arms crossed, and saying; “That’s it, I’m just not going to love you anymore. I’m going to run away from home”.
Scene: at the dollar store buying items for his birthday party loot bags and my son asks; “Can we buy a toy?”. I reply by saying he already got his birthday presents. For his response, see scene above…..
Next scene: My son begs me for a leap pad for Christmas. Its all he can talk about….. for one day. The next day, he’s onto the netxt best thing: the newest hot wheels track.
The day after: Cars 2 comes in the mail. He’s been dying to get it! What does he do? Looks at the case, puts it down and goes off to do something else. No “thank you”, no thrill, no excitement. Just another “something”….
“Where did he get this from??”, I ask myself. I felt numb, wondering if every Christmas and birthday (and every other day of the year!) would be filled with ME ME ME, MINE MINE MINE!! I wondered where we’ve gone wrong?? We’re a pretty modest family, fighting consumerism, giving our sons learning opportunities about those less fortunate, and our mission on earth. So where is this sense of entitlement coming from?!
Then I ran into this book; “The Entitlement-Free Child” while reading Jennifer Grant’s book, “Love You More”. It only took me seconds to get onto amazon and it was ordered. I dove right in when it came in the mail! One of the first things I read in the book stated:
“The entitlement child gets everything he asks for…. now. He can’t wait. A parent saying no doesn’t mean no; it means “Maybe, if you keep bugging me” or “I don’t really want to, but….” The entitlement child doesn’t accept “enough” because he’s afraid he might miss out on “more”. Driven by immediate gratification, the entitlement child gets what he wants; he just doesn’t get what he needs. He gets what he wants today but is unsatisfied tomorrow. His happiness is temporal and conditional.”
“The entitlement free child on the other hand, gets much more. He trusts that his needs will be met, because he has learned that he can count on other people today and tomorrow. Life is ok even when he is frustrated, confused or upset. He has skills. The entitlement free child learns to see things from another’s point of view, accept limits from others, and delay personal gratification, and he can handle age-appropriate problems.”
“Wow! Where do I get me one of those?”, I thought! Jokes aside, I longed for my son to adopt these beautiful traits of an entitlement-free child. I wrestled for a whole day with these questions burning in the back of my mind. Then it all came clear to me where he may have learned this from…..
This pasts summer we were hitting up our local McDonald’s for our daily routine of dollar drinks. (yup, I said DAILY…. sad I know) Then it hit me. My son has no idea that these drinks are only a dollar! All he knows is he’s been getting a “special drink” almost every day this summer! Yike-o-rama! My mind started to race, recalling many other innocent scenarios that may not have been so “innocent”. And who was instigating all these harmless indulgences? ME!! I wanted a special drink, I wanted…. Then it hit me;
I’m an entitlement child trying to raise an entitlement-free child!!
Talk about eating humble pie. In order to see my son’s behavior change, I’VE got to change. He’s just following my lead. Needless to say, I have a whole new outlook on our daily outings. Are they feeding my cravings? Are they to indulge mommy? Needless to say, I’ve starving my flesh and my wants this past while so I can pass on something greater to my boys than what I’ve been giving.
How do you keep your kids from indulging into ME ME ME Christmas consumer-mania? Don’t fall into it yourself. Model something different than entitlement. BE something different.
This Christmas, we can either model a good rebellion to the ultra-consumer mindset, or teach our kids how to get neck deep in it.
What’s it gonna be this Christmas for your family? This December’s blogs are dedicated to a rebellious Christmas. You up for it?
* Oh, and pick up the book. It’s a close to the manual we all long for.
The Entitlement Child by Karen Deerwester. “Raising confident and responsible kids in a ‘Me, Mine, Now!’ Culture”