It doesn’t surprise me that once a week a major news source reports on societal trends in youth entitlement or enabling parenting… but twice in one week?! Yikes
Monday it was NPR (remember the Easter Egg Hunt Canceled Due to Aggressive Parents), Thursday World Magazine. Their article “It’s All About ‘Me’ After All” causes one to pause, ask “why?” Then, “how?” How can we turn the boat, change course? Katarina, a high-school student commented on World Magazine’s article in an I’m sick of this finger pointing stuff saying simply, “Thanks for blaming it all on us kids.”
I think that’s what we would like to do. Blame it on “those” kids. Certainly not our kids, but those other kids. We shake our heads appalled at the parents that race in to fill their little pumpkin’s basket with eggs forgetting that we too (though maybe not to an extreme) might have guarded our own child’s path to make sure their basket was full…. all while checking their homework to make sure they get an “A”, or making sure they are on the right team, finagling their social circles, filling out college applications, … so that their self-esteem will be insulated and that they will be able to get in the right college or job. If we aren’t cultivating an “I’m owed” mentality by taking control, we are on the other end looking to government to provide every need.
At some point, the entitled gig does become the kid’s fault. But we parents must take responsibility for grooming a significant portion of the mentality. Every time we race in to save, hover to protect, manipulate to insulate… we’re setting the “all-about-me” message in stone.
Okay. So how can we turn the boat? How can we change course? One avenue stares us in the face each and every day. Our homes.
Families offer a lovely testing ground for kids before they face the real world. Taking responsibility – real, genuine, meaningful work – from our own plate and placing it on our kids’ plates trains them in productivity, ingenuity… service (seriously, how else can you describe folding and putting away your sister’s underwear, or plunging a toilet, or …the list goes on – other than a very high calling of service).
Kids get to taste monotony. “Yes, you unloaded the dishwasher yesterday and you get to do it again today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that… because it never ends.” … Like real life work, it isn’t always glamorous and it never ends. But work must occur for the machine to function.
They get a taste of problem solving, of working together, of what things are worth. How can a kid appreciate all that goes on around them if they aren’t participating in it? Which, by the way, they can. They are more than able. All my words, “You can do anything you put your mind to” mean nothing unless I put meat on them by letting (okay making) my kids do just that.
In order to walk up stairs or climb the proverbial ladder, one must first learn how to walk. How will these kids ever embrace climbing if we don’t train them on the walking part?! These days, kids don’t want to climb (unless it involves a recreational wall and friends, scheduled at their convenience) because they don’t know how to… and it’s uncomfortable. Burning muscles – what’s that? Parents, fueled by love and the best of intentions, have been doing the climbing for them… or provided an alternate route – like an elevator,
…or one of those stair chairs that glides up the wall rail. Sure it was made for the elderly whose joints can no longer bend or support them. Too bad our kids are racing for the similar free ride rather than opting for exhilarating satisfaction that comes from finishing a hard climb and drinking in the view from the top. We all tend to miss the view if we avoided the climb.
For those of you who have been walking the MOAT road with us from the beginning, you know that in an effort to stop the entitled mindset in our own home, we tested a theory. Can meaningful work (in the form of chores, household responsibilities, service) be a remedy to the youth entitlement ailment? And I can tell you, through our bumbling – often hilarious – full of failure – peppered with victories – sort of way, the answer is a resounding “YES”! A key to changing the entitlement course hides right in our own homes.
That’s where I found myself compiling our story into a book. Cleaning House, A Mother’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement shares the good the bad and the ugly of our story, plus lots of expert wisdom (from some terrific contributors), plus a message of hope, and friends… because who wants to go it alone?! Not only are we not victims to this issue, but my goodness, can we for a minute recognize the heights that become attainable to these techo-advanced kids when equipped?!!
Now for those of you who know me well, you know that I am far from one to toot my own horn. If I did, it wouldn’t make more than a measly squeak. But I am one to champion a cause … especially one founded in Truth. Not my perception of what is right or wrong, but the Truth found in Scripture, put forth so that life “may go well for you” (Duet. 4:40) A message of Truth that directly impacts our kids, our lives, our country in a very serious way.
The wonderful folks at WaterBrook Multnomah/Random House have a Sneak Peek for you. Just click on the link and you can download the first chapter of Cleaning House. If you like it… spread the word. Please join other moms passionate about empowering rather than enabling by sharing the link with your friends through email, Facebook and Pinterest. We will be putting together some fun ways to share links in days to come.
Not to get all sappy… but seriously, together we can change our kids’ generation from being known as “Gen-Me” and “The Entitled Generation” to what we (and they) know they can be – limitless.
As always, thanks for walking the road with me.