Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Trap of Entitlement

This blog post will be a series of posts that chronicle a parent's walk with their children out of the trap of entitlement. I don't know at this point if we will arrive, but I will be honest about the process. This is a real time experiment so the outcome is unknown. I hope that if you see yourself in this post  you will be encouraged and inspired and that you will encourage me as well along the way. This is action and forward motion, but not a guarantee of outcome.

I don't really like New Year's Resolutions...mostly because I don't keep them very well. I am a great starter of things and a horrible finisher of things. That quality doesn't do well with resolutions, however this year I am motivated to do differently because of my children. My precious angels. You see this Christmas I realized that my precious ones had somehow come to believe that the world revolved around them. I have five children, two of whom are either late in their college career or gainfully employed. The other three are still at home and those children are the ones I am motivated by. 

My husband and I are in our second marriage and blessed with a comfortable life. I didn't grow up with all the comforts that my children have, but with those privileges has come with another side that is not so charmed. Entitlement. One could argue that money doesn't make you entitled, attitude does. I will agree with that whole heartedly, but money makes the destination of entitlement an easier road to travel down. God warns us of this in I Timothy 6:10 where it states clearly that "money is the root of all evil". 

How did MY kids become so entitled? They have no money! Hmmm...could this be me?

It is a gift God gives us in blinding us to the shortcomings of our own offspring, but it is also a curse. I am a mom who watches for entitlement in my kids, but was still caught off guard by statements made around Christmas this year that had my parent antennae up and at alert. We have a 14 year old who decided that this year she was only going to use a $50 gift card (which was given to her as a gift) to buy her gifts for everyone in our family. In principle I don't have a problem spending only $50, but it was her attitude about this card. The way she would say in her self righteous teenage voice, "Everyone will just have to deal with that". UGH!! Whose child was this? My sweet girl who would hand make gifts and worry about them just a few years ago was making her own Christmas list with hardly an item UNDER $50, but telling others to "deal". That was our first warning bell. This was followed by my younger daughter asking me when the cleaning lady was coming so she didn't have to pick up her room. WHAT?? There are so many more incidents that I am actually too embarrassed to write. 

My husband and I called an emergency parent meeting and spent a large part of Christmas break discussing the issue of entitlement that we were noticing in our kids. We noted that they were doing little around the house except when coerced and nagged. We also noted that I had been on a downward spiral and in a bad mood for several months. I felt I was always fussing or yelling at someone OR I was picking up after my angels and resenting and fuming. Either way makes Mommy in a bad mood. When I wasn't cleaning up, I was driving to practices or play dates or cooking or refereeing, and then coming home to a house in disarray. Everything revolved either directly or indirectly around the kids. Something had to give.

My husband is in the business of employment and owns his own company. Like any good man, he went to his strength of fixing things and together we came up with a plan that begins to address the entitlement and hopefully instills some fiscal responsibility in our children. The key to this plan is enforcement. I will detail the plan in my next post, but basically it involves chores, allowance and "dings". It also involves creating opportunities for spending choices. This plan involves a lot of choice. Each child has control and with that control they own their choices...good and bad. 

We are nearing the end of week two and I will tell you that I have learned a lot about myself and each of my children. The answer to the question, "Is this my doing?"...the answer is ABSOLUTELY! I will talk about that as I go, but suffice it to say I have a bad habit of rescuing my children and in doing so keeping them from learning the tough lessons in life that we all have to learn. This system has been hardest on me I think. The kids are doing great and my house is cleaner than it has been in years, but I have had to take a deep look into why it is so hard for me to "ding" my kids. 

If this sounds like a familiar story please follow along. So many moms I have talked to resonate with our problem and we can all draw strength from one another. Buckle up!!


  1. Can't wait to read more from your blog. You are a great parent and love your children so much! You are definitely one of the "parent- models" I try to parent after. Keep up the good work!

  2. WOW! I am so proud of you. What a courageous thing to do. If anyone can succeed with this endeavor I know it's the Dew family.

  3. This is great, Shannon! I am hooked! Cannot wait to see how it goes. :)