How can we avoid having entitled children?

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No parent sets out to raise an ungrateful, materialistic child who is totally wrapped up with things. Nor does a parent hope to have a child who is always striving for elusive success. Modeling truth is more effective than simply sharing it. Jesus led by example, and we are instructed to follow suit. Someone once said, "God created us to love people and use things, but sadly we live in a world where others use people and love things." To raise a thankful child, we need to be intentional; it won't just happen.

Because we are bombarded with the world's beliefs on a daily basis, we need to make an extra effort to balance them with God's truth. Values disintegrate every day. The further an individual moves away from God's principles concerning material possessions, the more he or she will adopt society's values concerning success. Satan is subtle as he conforms people to the world. Little by little a person becomes desensitized.

Only God's truth can refute Satan's lies.

Without knowing what God says about worldly goods, a parent will certainly get sucked into society's lies. If from the beginning you need the most expensive baby equipment and designer clothes for your children, they will start life with the message that they are entitled to the best the world has to offer.

What makes this even subtler is that the world praises parents for being this way. Many parents are glad to sacrifice things for themselves to give the best to their children. But that can often communicate to a child that he or she is so important that everyone should sacrifice for them. If that is their thinking, what kind of adults will they grow into? We must learn to lavish love and attention rather than things on our children. We also must model a non-materialistic attitude in our own choices.

Satan is the father of lies. His deception prevents people from growing in their relationship with God. One of his tactics is using half-truths, giving just a morsel of truth with the lie in order to make it more palatable. Knowing God's Word is our only chance for identifying and refuting his lies. No Christian is exempt from Satan's attempts. Even Jesus withstood Satan's temptations by using Scripture.

One of Satan's lies is: This is the only life we have. If he can get people to accept this, their lives will reflect it. Advertisers willingly support this lie with phrases like "you deserve it" and "you're worth it." We respond with pride, "Yes, I do deserve it; I am worth it." But this world is not our home; it is only temporary. God is preparing a place for us with him. Remembering this truth gives us the right perspective. Without this knowledge, we easily fall prey to the many lies we hear.

Gratitude has to be taught.

Children who grow up receiving everything they want become ungrateful people. Concerning material possessions, Henry Cloud and John Townsend say, "Sometimes children learn that goals and desire can be a good thing, but you still do not give them what they want. They have to earn it. Parents who merely give children whatever they want and do not teach them how to work for things they desire are reinforcing entitlement in a major way."[1]

There is a sense of entitlement that permeates our society. Even before our children can understand the world is loaded with things to enjoy, young parents unwittingly school them in this thinking by their own choices. Then, when a child is old enough to sit in front of a TV, he or she is shown exactly what is needed to be happy according to the world. A child who gets everything she wants develops the attitude that she deserves it.

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