Written by Desert Songbird from The Ice Box
Back in mid-April, my friend Greg, a teacher, told me that he and his wife, also a teacher, decided that because their oldest was about to graduate high school, they would take an extended road trip, camping along the
They laid out their plans to their 18-year-old son, their 15-year-old daughter, and their 4-year-old son. The youngest was thrilled; the teenagers eye-balled each other, then one asked, “You’re gonna buy us plane tickets to meet you in Washington, right?”
Greg and his wife stared at their eldest, glanced briefly each other, and then nodded.
Am I the only one who has a problem with the sense of entitlement that seems to be prevalent among many kids today?
I admit I’m a bit of a hard-nose parent. I grew up the youngest child of hard-working immigrants. My parents couldn’t afford to give my sisters and me many luxuries, but what we did have was a whole lot of love and fun. Our family vacations involved picnics and hiking in nearby state parks. I grew up knowing that money was scarce, and rewards were the benefit of hard work.
When I was in grade school, there seemed to be a consensus in the
For generations this practice has continued, and now we seemingly have legions of young adults who feel that everything they do deserves a pat on the back, a monetary remuneration, or some other reward simply because they showed up.
My husband and I don’t subscribe to this theory that children need to be coddled and protected from hard work and scolding. I’m not saying we don’t praise our children. When they have worked to complete a difficult task, we show them our pride with a hug and/or a “high five.” When they bring home a report card that reflects their diligence and best effort, we celebrate with a dinner out. Our kids know when we are proud, and they know when we are disappointed. We reward generously, and we correct with authority and love.
Our kids may be young, but they are beginning to understand that hard work and sacrifice are expected in order to reap rewards not just in our family life but in society as well. They will be compensated when they have earned it, not just because they are cute or funny.
I looked at Greg with incredulity. “You’re not seriously going to cave into that demand, are you?”
Sheepishly he replied, “Well, yeah. Who wants to drive thousands of miles listening to two teenagers whine the whole time?”
I shook my head in disbelief. “If it were me, I’d tell them, you can ride in the car with the family and have no expenses, or you fly in a plane and meet us there, but you have to pay for your own plane ticket. You decide.”
Greg blinked a few times, then a knowing smile spread slowly across his face. “I like that! That works for me!”
Desert Songbird lives in the American Southwest desert with her husband and two children. When she’s not scolding her children, she’s proudly watching them at basketball games, dance lessons, and tae kwon do classes, silently cheering them. She also donates time to her kids’ school, her church, and friends in need. You can read more about her foibles and adventures at The Ice Box and Ice Box Project 365.