I Love My Kids—That’s Why I Tell Them ‘No’
I remember the day we called out entitlement in our home.
It was a brisk Saturday in February in Texas, and we’d spent the day the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. We attended every year since our kids could walk. It’s something we always look forward to—particularly that year.
Our family was in its second year of running a nonprofit that works to empower and disciple oppressed and impoverished women globally, many rescued from some form of trafficking. It’s heavy work. That morning, the strain of raising money and the burden of broken stories weighed on us. A “day off” together was exactly what we needed.
Maybe that’s why buying our three kids their first pair of cowboy boots was such a big deal. Yeah, it was a lot of money for shoes, but more than that, we had become so aware and sensitive to what we had and how we received it. You can imagine what went down in our minivan on the drive home when one of our kids continued to display a heart of ingratitude. We took the boots away.
And more, we gave our child a three-day weed-pulling job in the front and back yard to buy them back from us because sometimes the best gifts are the ones that we work hard for. It was the worst day. It was the best day. It was the day we realized bringing a global perspective into our home had changed not only the way we saw the world, but it was changing the way we raised our kids.
Entitlement pops up as a buzzword in our culture today, but it’s certainly not a new issue. Selfishness’s path of destruction runs all the way back to Creation. But entitlement takes selfish and self-absorbed behavior a step further: Not only do we want what we want, but we feel like we deserve it. And parents make the problem worse when we endlessly give into our kids’ demands. We find examples like Joseph (spoiled by his father, Jacob) and Absalom (entitled by his father, David) in the Bible as well as modern instances, from reality TV stars to spoiled rich kids suffering from “affluenza” in the news.
When my husband and I examined the attitudes and actions of that day, we recognized some signs of why our kids were struggling—and why they weren’t solely the ones to blame.
1. I want it now. Kids are impatient. We live in a drive-thru culture, and instant gratification is…well, instant. We grow to fear of saying no because our children are used to getting what they want, and so we give into their demands.
2. I don’t want to work for it. Laziness and a poor work ethic are fostered when we constantly give in to our children without requiring any work.
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