Friday, September 27, 2013

Youth, Entitlement, and Parenting

We've heard the complaints. they come at different times and situations, but the term "entitlement" gets thrown around to discuss people...primarily kids, students, youth, young people, this "current generation," etc.

The other night I was out to dinner. There was an elderly couple near our table. The man was a little brash at this resort in the way he seemed to bark his demands at the waitress. It wasn't anything "dramatic," but he never said "thank you." He use phrases like "that'll do," or "I suppose that'll be fine."

In my head I imagined that this man could not have always been this way. Surely, at one point he was kind, maybe a tad grateful or capable of pleasantness.

I'm sure the waitress didn't think a thing. It didn't seem odd. Sure, I too was dining at the same resort but I felt like saying "thank you," when served, or "yes, please" when asked if I would like my water filled was a reasonable response.

In a way this old man acted entitled. In my mind, always a scientific approach, I imagine that he was once kind...yet it changed at some point. Did he lose faith in humanity? Did he feel he had served his time, and now people should take care of him? Did the financial exchange of his service seem to him an adequate exchange and an appreciative disposition was out of order?

Sometimes, I wonder if entitled children come from entitled parents. Sure maybe the parents weren't entitled when they were four, seven, thirteen, or twenty-two. Maybe the parents at those ages played hard, worked hard, and were grateful for their Christmas present/road trip experience/simpler life. Yet, as an adult they made switch. 

I see older parents (i.e. parents who waited until they were older to have kids) often act as entitled parents. They feel like they have worked hard, done there time, established themselves for the reward of a certain parental situation. This might mean living in a certain neighborhood (school district), having certain vehicles, having a schedule that allows for competitive hockey/dance/swimming. And this is okay, I think. Why shouldn't be okay?

Yet, it makes life easy. Someday when my kids are grown, I want them to want to leave my house. Sure, I want them to want to come home...but home for holidays or long weekends, not to stay.

I know a guy who is a little older who in my mind should be on his own in some way...a small apartment, maybe roommates to cover the bills. He's in his twenties, but the incentive isn't there. Why leave home when your video games, hot tub, media room, and food is at home.

I think it's easy to point out entitled children, but we're slow to point out entitled adults. Maybe we don't recognize them, or maybe we don't know how to say it, and maybe we shouldn't.

Talking about raising children is a touchy subject. At work during that awful workplace training they do over discrimination and sexual harassment we were told: "You probably know not to talk religion and politics at work. You should also avoid talking about parenting at work as well, it can be equally controversial."

So, I will summarize my thoughts with a personalization, not direction for others.

My wife and I are fortunate in many ways, supportive families, college education, good jobs, super friends, great kids, and the list goes on. Yet, I want to raise my kids in a way that makes it hard on them   sometimes. I want them to do without at times. I want them to lose sometimes. I want them to occasionally miss out. 

And more so, I want to be okay with there being hard times, their withoutness, their loss, their missing out. This needs to be okay with me, and that might be hard. I think it could be hard on others in our life, friends, family, and especially grandparents who can come to the rescue.

My goal is to prepare, not protect. That's hard, and I hope I can do it well (most the time).