Are we making it too easy for kids?
Today’s parents worry that their children have developed a whopping sense of entitlement. They demand and expect so much from their parents and the world around them! Many kids think that family meals are like going out to eat—they get to order what they want for dinner. Send it back if it’s not perfect!
If they don’t like their teacher, their parents should intervene. If their grade is lower than they think they deserve, Dad should talk to the principal. If the coach sidelines them, Mom should shoot him a “what gives!” email. Parents are expected to smooth the way for youngsters.
It doesn’t end there. Kids expect to have the most stylish clothes, the newest computer equipment (for school, of course!), the smartest phones, and the fastest gaming equipment. Mom and Dad should be at their beck and call.
When I was growing up, I never thought to ask my parents for help with my homework. If I didn’t like my teacher, I made the best of it. I was delighted if I made the first string in little league, but I never thought it was a given—I had to earn it. My parents expected a lot from me and I wanted to live up to their expectations.
Now it’s the reverse. Kids expect a lot from us, and we better live up to their expectations! Otherwise, we discover that “we aren’t like everyone else’s parents”. Or, our kids are quick to let us that know that we are falling down on the job. If their parents set limits, kids threaten to call Child Protective Services (CPS)! What’s going on here!
Partly, these changing attitudes are economic. Our generation is more affluent than our parent’s, so it’s easier to afford to buy things for our children. We live in a consumer driven culture. Goods and services are marketed directly to kids. But some of children’s shifting outlook comes from new ideas about parenting. Aren’t good parents supposed to help their kids become successful? Aren’t we supposed to make life easier for them? Aren’t we supposed to give them what they want?
In past generations, we thought of these parental attitudes as a recipe for “spoiling” children—something only their grandparents got away with. What are the downsides of this current way of thinking?
Kids will be ill prepared to cope with adult life. If I don’t get along with my boss, I can’t call my mommy to come and rescue me. I have to figure it out on my own, develop a strategy for coping, and sometimes, just tough it out, at least until I find a new job. Adult life is a bumpy ride. Sometimes it can be more than bumpy. Do I have the skills, confidence, and experience to face these hurdles head on? Remember childhood is only a brief period in one’s life. Hopefully, we are adults for over 60 years. Parents are supposed to prepare children for their adult lives.
Children will have unrealistic expectations. Joey won’t have to do much to be on the first string team at work. He deserves to be the top guy! He won’t have to earn that raise! Joey will just be given what he wants or needs, without even having to ask for it. Advancement should be easy. It may take several bloody noses before Joey realizes that adult life is a different sort of playing field than his soccer team.
They won’t be satisfied as adults. Mary gets bored with a new doll, and her Dad buys her a new one. Jim wants a new, souped up video game, and Mom goes out and buys it for him. This conditions kids to look for something “new” to keep them entertained. The adult versions of this tendency can bring on major disasters!
So what can parents do?
Have more confidence in your kids. Don’t be in a rush to bail them out of every problem they encounter. Let them struggle and find their own kid solution. Don’t spoil them! Make them work for what they want.
They will thank you when they grow up.