In the 1940’s Conrad Richter wrote a series of books about the settlers that pioneered and tamed the Ohio wilderness. The main character was Sayward. As a teen, she walked from Pennsylvania with her family, carrying all they owned on their backs to the Ohio wilderness. They built their own cabin, hunted their own food and she eventually began to chop down the ‘big butts’ of trees so she could plant a garden and have domestic animals. At the end of her long, accomplished and very successful life, she reflected on those days in the late 1700’s and wondered what was wrong with folks currently.
“What gave folks ‘narve strings’ today and made them soft so they couldn’t stand what folks could stand when she was young……?
It had taken a wild and rough land to breed the big butts she saw when she first came here, and she reckoned it took a rough and hard life to breed the kind of folks she knew as a young woman.”
From The Town, by Conrad Richter.
She felt that at least one of her children was entitled. She thought she had done too much for him and he consequently hadn’t turned out to be as tough as she would have liked.
Each generation of parents seems to want to make things easier on their kids, even as far back as the American pioneers, even ours and yours. But, should you? Or will you wonder at life’s end if you did too much?
Here are some things you might be doing for your kids to make it easier for them. These may be the very things that end up making your child a spoiled, needy, adult – feeling that they are entitled to a soft and easy life. People with money worry about this sense of entitlement. They fear their children will have no ambition, make no accomplishments and provide no contributions to society.
Books (such as Children of Paradise, Silver Spoon Kids and Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth) have been written about how to avoid ‘entitling’ your kids.
So, with tongue in cheek, here is my advice to you on how to raise entitled children.
Give them money instead of your time.
You are too busy with work, charity, and life to make time to play or teach your children. When they plead for your attention, just give them a new toy or shunt them to a baby sitter or a camp. It will get them out of your hair.
Do everything you can to avoid conflict with them.
Let’s face it, kids want their way. If they don’t like what was served for dinner, make sure another dish of their liking is prepared. That way you won’t have to deal with the whining and complaining. Just don’t say no.
Don’t make them help around the house.
It is much easier to do the chores yourself than to teach your kids and monitor them to make sure the tasks are done. Besides, kids don’t know how to do it right. You, or your paid help, can do it faster and better. Why should the kids learn and do?
Set low expectations for their accomplishments.
Why should they practice piano or attend baseball tryouts? Do those things really matter in the long run? Make it easy for them to feel like they have done something good. Over praise them for poor work, or complement them for trying even if they didn’t try hard enough.
Don’t let them ever ‘want’ for something.
Always get them everything they want, whether it be the latest toy, the coolest clothes or the hottest electronics. Don’t make them save up to get stuff. If they never yearn for something, they won’t try to find ways to get a job or start a business – those things would take YOUR time.
Make sure they never encounter challenges to overcome.
Are they being bullied at school? Step in to solve their problem for them. God forbid they should have to stand up for themselves! Is their homework too hard? Show them it can be done by doing it for them. Have they landed a leaf raking job but didn’t think about the need for a rake? Let them use yours, even when you need it yourself (oh and don’t make them pay you for it later either).
Always bail them out if they get into difficulty.
Were they caught badgering the neighbor’s dog? Smooth it over by offering the neighbor recompense. Don’t make your kid apologize or work it out themselves.
Show them that gratitude is an outdated concept.
When you receive gifts, make fun of what you get. Don’t thank the giver. Don’t require your child to stop tearing into those Christmas presents to hug that grandparent for the gift just opened. Never make them hand write and mail a thank you note. How old school is that?
Train them to understand how important things are.
Demonstrate that material objects are important. Obsess about having the very best of everything. Constantly compare your situation to others by noting the things you are able to buy that they aren’t. Brag about it to your kids!
Schedule every minute of every day for them.
Never, ever, let your kids have free time to sit and dream. They might get into trouble that way! Put them in camps, classes, lessons or other structured activities to make sure they are making the most of their time. If they dream, they might decide to reach for that dream, ignoring what you want them to be or do.
Make sure your kids know that they can stay in your home as long as they want or need to.
You’ve nurtured and protected that child since he or she was born. Why would you throw him or her out of the nest just because he or she is 22 and done with his or her education? Don’t set the expectation that he or she should be self-supporting at a certain age. Make sure he or she knows they can always count on you for food and shelter.
The world has no need for strong, independent, creative and self-supporting individuals!