Writer. Thinker. Strategist. Creative Tight Rope Walker.

Rolling Up Our Sleeves: Time to Eliminate Entitlement

[Steps onto soap box]

In recent years, I’ve hired people to help me on writing projects and been stunned by some of the reactions I end up getting — either the work is ‘too hard’ or there is this impression that they should start making ‘way more money’ after two months of working. Really? Because you are actually making way more than the average person, working from home, and still not happy. Sure, we would all like a paycheck without having to work hard but it doesn’t work that way. And, in reality, satisfaction in life comes from actually doing a day, week, or year of hard work.

Generations of Entitled

What has happened in this country? Not to sound like an old person who begins the speech, ‘In my day….’ blah blah blah … ‘walking four miles in snow uphill….’ blah blah blah.’ But, honestly, the attitude has changed. How?  In a word: entitlement.

A person who is entitled believes they have the presence and position to get everything they think they should have — after all what does L’Oreal say, ladies? ‘Because we’re worth it.’ Sure, everyone deserves the best in life, but it doesn’t always happen that way. And, for some of us, it takes a little elbow grease and even blood, sweat, and tears to continue the train of overused phrases.

It wasn’t until I became a parent did I realize just how our entitled generations have been bred. When those little faces look at me and bat their eyelashes at me, sure, I melt. I even feel like I’ve been glamoured a la True Blood’s merry band of vamps and find it easier to say, okay, whatever you want and suddenly they control the purse strings. We all want our kids to have better than us and we want to give them the world. The only problem with that is it drives this sense of entitlement.

Starting with the “I want” syndrome, which kids clearly don’t realize and it’s up to us as parents to set limits, and continuing on once they are teenagers and we’ve lost complete control over the situation, entitlement becomes super-sized. It passes on into the workplace and even how people interact with each other on the road and in stores. It’s a horrible and sad state of affairs when generations of people feel they deserve everything while doing the bare minimum to get it.

Removing the Crowns and Disposing of the Thrones

On the meter of giving to my kids, sure, I’m just as guilty to a certain degree of treating them, but I also think it can be tempered by a little injection of Tiger Mom fierceness:

  • Don’t hand your kids money because it is easier than dealing with a problem or it keeps them quiet. Later on, their employers will thank you for going easy on the money because they won’t expect more money only to deserve less productivity in return. Make your kids work for that money and attach work to it. Don’t use cash to bribe your kids into complacency.
  • Offer your kids something else instead of money when they help out.  After my oldest son (age 9) mowed the lawn last week, my husband handed him an ice cold soda (a precious commodity in our house as they are only given out on the rarest of occasions). He was happy with that over any money.
  • Take them with you to work (if you can) or show them what you do. The boys were amazed what their dad has to do each day in terms of how hard he works. Leading by example teaches your kids the value of putting in a day’s work for the money you earn.
  • Talk to your kids about what things cost and how much work it takes to earn that item. They don’t know and will not understand the value of work against the value of an item without you first teaching them.
  • Give them less and they will appreciate what they get more. We all know that only a small fraction of the toys get are actually played with. Give them less and they might be more inclined to value these items more.
I’m No Expert
Purely suggestions, of course. These are just things we have tried in an attempt to stop the entitlement giant from sprouting from our kids. They are worth their weight in gold to us but we don’t want to tarnish that by turning them into teenagers and adults who think the world owes them everything. Our job is to teach them and shape them into people who will go out into the world to make things better for others that, in turn, will improve their own well-being.  None of us are perfect but we can all try harder to eliminate the sense of entitlement that has developed and replace it with a sense of purpose to life.
[Steps off soap box and puts it back under desk]

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