Peggy Harper Lee, of Rocklin, California, is a mom of four kids ranging in ages three to 28 years, whose financial planning business spawned a book called, Spoiled: Fresh Ideas For Parenting Your Entitled Child — At Any Age
Lee found that in her work, much of her client’s financial challenges were symptoms of a deeper problem which she refers to as the “Age of the Entitled Child”.
Lee shares how her clients struggle with children of all ages who expect that their parents will provide for everything they feel they need or desire. One example she shared was a man whose adult daughter, married with a baby, called him and his wife to dinner to discuss an urgent matter. At dinner, he learned that the urgent matter was that she wanted to send her daughter to a preschool that cost $25,000 per year. Everyone looked at him expecting him to offer to pay.
“It’s not what you give your child; it’s what you teach him about earning his own way.” Peggy Harper Lee, (p.55)
“In our quest to provide our children everything, the kids are feeling frustrated, unloved and are not successful,” Lee said. “And so I found myself counseling parents about how to deal with this entitlement problem.”
What does entitlement look like?
Our children are raised in a network culture that rejects boundaries and limits. What I love about Peggy’s book is it illustrates how allowing children to be entitled is actually disabling them. In today’s consumer culture where parents have become first and foremost consumers, and then “friends,” it is so important that as we provide for a modern lifestyle that also includes the blessings of discipline and character. (Family values, house rules, role of individuals in the family).
Below are some signals of entitlement:
- Children berating and criticizing parents in private and/or in public
- Expecting to be catered to
- Not expecting common courtesy from children (making excuses)
- Not holding children accountable for their self-centered, risky or poor decisions
- Having the same argument over and over again
- Lacking gratitude and is expecting privileges without responsibilities
- Asks or expects to be rescued
- Complains you don’t trust her
“In not teaching kids, we are teaching them volumes.” Lee (p.27)
According to Lee, entitlement is the polar opposite of responsibility.
When we do not feel responsible for our own lives; when we do not take charge and remain accountable for our own ability to pursue happiness, it becomes disabling. Lee’s stories cut across socio-economic backgrounds; the entitlement mentality, where kids are feeling like their happiness and success is a product of what their parents provide them, keeps them from exercising their own personal power to set and accomplish goals.
See also Chapter 2, Genuine Authority and Chapter 3, The Folly of Modern Parenting in The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture.
What to do?
Relating to the children of the Web is part of the challenge.
In order to help set things right, Lee encourages parents to appreciate how children are conditioned in the network culture. Their motivation is different than that of parents today.
“We are motivated by individual achievement, while this digital generation is not motivated by the same things,” Lee said. Digital natives are more interested in solving a problem and working with others than pursuit of individual achievement.
The three things Lee suggests parents keep in mind, because we do live in an entitlement culture:
- Remember your job as a parent is to not be needed some day
- Communication is critical – especially communication about your values and expectations for the individuals in your home
- Parenting is a tough job and don’t be afraid to ask for support and seek answers for your unresolved problems