Are You Raising Entitled Kids?

“No one ever takes their rental car to the carwash. They don’t own it.”

I heard this quote at a leadership conference years ago. It never really resonated until I had kids. That is, when it really hit home.

I think responsibility is learned through discipline. To be honest, I needed to learn responsibility to parent. It started with me. I was once part of the complaining and blaming community of parents that said, “Oh kids today… they just don’t listen. They just don’t care. They are so entitled.” And you know what? I was probably right. But I was also responsible for setting it up like that. I know a lot of parents who want to complain and blame Millennials. They want to label them as “Entitled Trophy Kids.” But I don’t think it was the kids’ idea to give themselves these trophies. I am pretty sure the adults in the room were/are responsible for creating the entitlement culture that these kids are living in. At least I know that to be true in my family.

So—now that we are all looking in the mirror— NOW WHAT? Take a deep breath. I know I had to. And I can promise you, YOU GOT THIS.

Ready?

Let them OWN IT!

Own the responsibility of doing chores (not for allowance either.)

Own the responsibility of doing their own homework.

Own the responsibility of finding their own shoes.

Own the responsibility of earning money in your household (project work, summer contracts?)—maybe chores. But I think those are table stakes.

Own the responsibility of buying their own stuff.

Own the responsibility of keeping track of their own sports uniforms, etc.

I know, I know, all the “Yeah- Buts!” are flying out of your half open mouths. So let me give you this, “Yeah, but…” Yeah but if you don’t let them own the responsibility then they will for sure FEEL entitled. And if they feel entitled, then you will most likely get entitled behavior.

One of my fears as a Dad is that my kids will grow up entitled. Since we have a 3-car garage and they don’t have to get a paper route- I fear that somehow they are going to end up on Skid Row. Or worse, live in my basement asking me for money. This is true. It is a REAL fear of mine. It’s also a fear that I can get to pretty quickly. And then all of a sudden, that fear gets masked by anger, and if I am really on a roll I will yell and berate my kids who have done nothing other than just be born into a life and a way of life that I have mapped out for them.

But then it dawned on me. Get involved. Don’t just keep complaining. Do something. Do anything. Anything but get angry and complain and yell. I could actually coach them on the disciplines that are important for ownership. Educate them on my feelings and help them understand how/when their behaviors may strike a chord in my emotional parenting tool box. I could challenge them to see the situation for what it is—the truth. THEY WERE BORN ON 3RD BASE—heck I think I was probably born on 2nd base, at least.

When I visit orphanages and see children with no running water or even a pair of shoes- I know I didn’t start where they started. But my kids didn’t DO ANYTHING. They certainly cannot relate to me telling them of villages with no running water. All they know is they live in a circle, about a block from their school, and they know they are probably going to eat 3 meals today. So I don’t need to guilt them. All I have to do is coach them, educate them and challenge them. And I also have to let them take ownership. Let them succeed or fail… and love them unconditionally no matter what.

Because it doesn’t matter what base any of us were born on. It only matters if no one ever lets us run. And if we are safe or out.  We have to own our own journey.

Take a chance, get involved. Most of all, have some fun.

Share your story or thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. You can also email me at DJ@Dare2Dad.com.