In today’s society, everyone is concerned about what we’re entitled to or what we deserve. Adults gripe and complain that they didn’t get what they deserved. There are constant debates about what are our rights as citizens. What are the basic rights of human beings?
I don’t care to get in the middle of those debates. I’m not looking for controversy, but I am concerned about our children. I’m concerned about what we are teaching our children for the future. Are we teaching them how to be grateful and work hard or are we making life too easy for them?
The demands that we make as adults and the things we think we are entitled to are observed by our children. They hear us talking and making demands. They hear the tone in our voices. They hear how we speak to others in authority. As they grow older, they may overhear the news or the radio broadcasts. They hear it all. The question is: Is it what you want them to be hearing? The example society is setting for our future is that they are entitled to get everything they want. Is that true? Is everyone entitled to get everything they want?
As I walk through the store I often hear children complaining to their parents. “That’s not fair!” “I want this!” “You promised!” Do your children think you “owe” them things?
You don’t have to feel guilty for being the parent that says no. There are many things in life that we DO “owe” our children. As parents, we owe them our unconditional love, respect, and endless forgiveness. They deserve a place to call home, food to keep them healthy, and an education that will help them later in life. However, there are plenty of things in life they are not entitled to. These are things parents don’t need to feel guilty about. We do not need to feel guilty saying, “NO” to our children! In fact, I’m thankful to parents who say no to their children. Sometimes the best way to love your child is to say no!
This is my list of 10 things you don’t owe your child.
10 Things You Don’t Owe Your Child
1. Children are not entitled to rewards for good behavior. When you walk through the store and your child behaves while you are shopping, you don’t “owe” them a toy for good behavior. They behaved. That’s GREAT! Done deal. This one drives me nuts! I would say to my child, “Thanks for being so well-behaved in the store today!” They say, “You’re welcome, what can we get?!” After many lessons, they are learning. Life is not a hand-out. Sometimes you just have to do what is expected of you. Now, after teaching them, I can reward them once in awhile and not have to continually hear them asking for a reward.
2. Children are not entitled to be the best athlete in school. Children walk on the field or the court and expect they will have the skills and talent of a pro-athlete. What they don’t realize is that good athletes work hard. If they work hard and practice their skills they will reap the rewards. The rewards do not necessarily mean professional sports though. Skill and talent doesn’t come automatically and it doesn’t come without hours of committed practice.
3. Children are not entitled to every possession they want! First, let’s help them appreciate the things they have. Learning contentment is another hard but important life lesson. Next let’s teach them the value of what it is they want. Teach them how to save their money for it. They can earn it. You don’t have to buy it for them because they want it now. Give them a chance to want it for a little while. They may discover if they wait that they didn’t really want it that desperately. They will also learn patience. Your children will appreciate the item even more!
4. Children are not entitled to popularity. There is no rule that says they will or should have a playground full of friends. Everyone is different. Teach them that sometimes a few really good friends is better. Popularity is not the most important part of life to strive for. We would never wish for our children to be without friends, but they need to learn how to make friends and be a good friend in order to have them and keep them.
5. Children are not entitled to a gourmet meal. We work hard as parents and there are a lot of aspects to running a home. You may not have time to make a 7-course meal when all that is said and done. Parents don’t have to feel guilty about that. Do the best you can to provide a healthy balanced meal for your family. Teach your children to respect that. Let’s teach them how to help make those meals! This is a win for everyone!
6. Children are not entitled to a maid. Our job is to be the parents. We are not the cleaning service. Let’s teach our children how to clean up after themselves and how to do simple chores. Let’s teach them that chores do not always mean a payment when they finish. This teaches them responsibility and ownership for their things and their house. Everyone in the house can be responsible for helping to take care of the house. These skills help them in school also.
7. Children are not entitled to fast food service. Patience is a very hard thing to teach children and even adults. A child’s request to you for whatever it may be, does not have to be fulfilled immediately. Sometimes it is a good lesson for them to wait patiently. Teaching children to wait is a life-lesson. There will be times in life they will have to wait, so they might as well get used to it!
8. Children are not entitled to pass to the next grade. Our children are all brilliant, kind to others, and selfless, no doubt. We all want to believe that about our children. We know our children. The teachers also know our children. Children may think this, but they are not given a free ride to the next grade level. It is not an automatic pass at the end of the year. Having their hinder in their seat every day is not enough. Children have to work and learn the information necessary to get to the next level. If they don’t put in the time or the work, it is not a free pass. There are students who don’t do their work or don’t think it matters if they get an A or a D on their homework. It matters if they don’t have the skills they need for the next grade!
9. Children are not entitled to win every game. We do not need to let our children win when we play games with them. We can keep score in a game and have a winner and, yes, a loser. Children can learn at an early age how to be a gracious winner and not a sore loser. We can teach them that they won’t win every game. We also teach them that we don’t stop playing games because we might lose or because we lost a last game. Competition is a natural instinct but learning how to lose is a lesson we have to learn at some point in life. This lesson will carry through our entire lives. If they learn this early on, adjusting to what life throws at them will be much easier.
10. Children are not entitled to be right all of the time.Everyone wants to think they are right ALL the time. Whether we are willing to admit it or not…we are not always right. Similarly, children are not always right and they need to be taught that they are not. It is our responsibility to correct them when they are wrong. They will make excuses for their behavior or they will argue about why they are right. As parents, we need to curb this behavior early and teach them that it is okay to be wrong and how to admit to being wrong. It’s a hard pill to swallow, even for adults. If we don’t teach them this lesson they become disrespectful to anyone who tries to tell them they are wrong about anything. As a teacher, and the wife of a teacher, I know how disrespectful children can be when they are told they are doing something wrong. Children may be entitled to their opinion. However, let’s teach them how to voice it respectfully and at the correct time!
Children ARE entitled to parents who will teach them the difference between the things in life they have to work for and the things in life that are given freely.