Monday, March 21, 2016

The Entitlement Era

We see it in our kids and our youth.  The assumption that they can do as they choose, regardless of boundaries or limitations that have been place on them, without ramification.

“Can we have 5 more minutes to play after lunch?” a 6-year-old playmate of my daughter asks me.  “How about 2 minutes or 1 or even 30 seconds?“ is the negotiative response to my emphatic no.  Two little feet patter over to the slide and climb its ladder, despite our conversation.

“So?  It’s no big deal,” a motorized scooter-riding, almost-teenager responds to an adult pointing to a sign posted to the outside wall of the school, prohibiting wheels on the new turf.

“But I just missed it by one point, Mom!  I should have still still made the finals.”

They’re just kids learning the ropes, right?  Sure, if we’re doing the teaching.  But what if the parents are the ones teaching the entitlement?  

What if dad parks in the crosswalk at the corner of his daughter’s school when he’s running late, despite the illegality of the park job, endangering other kids trying to cross, and the weekly emails from the school highlighting the traffic issues and asking each parent to do his part to keep the kids safe? 

And how about mom juggling her latte, a bag full of snacks and juice boxes that will keep the two kiddos in tow quiet during the 2-hour musical, despite the rule of no food or drink in the auditorium?

And what does it say when an adult whips out his handheld for a quick text, call or FB update at an event that has been dubbed no phones or electronics allowed during a presentation?

It trickles down folks. Each incident may seem like minutia, but each small entitled action screams not only to the world, but directly to our children, that per definition, we are “inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment” and it’s just not so.  Our children don’t learn entitlement from the outside world, they learn it right at home….from you and from me. 

Even though we may take the time, energy, and unpopular stance of setting up behavior expectations and ramifications for non-adherence for our kids, it’s not enough.  Regardless of following through with the monitoring and doling out of consequences to our children for their behavior, it doesn’t do the trick.  Active engagement in a child’s life alone is insufficient.  We must acknowledge that our personal actions have direct bearing on what our children learn.

When we act as the rules don’t apply to us, our kids will think the same for themselves and respond in fashion: Monkey See, Monkey Do.  Let’s change the behavior.  Let’s change the attitude of tomorrow’s youth.  Let’s change the self-monitoring behavior at a time.

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