The Big E Word

Sunday at church our pastor was talking about a single word that the older generation uses to describe the younger generation. He said the single most commonly used word was Entitled.

I’ve been mulling this over all week, looking at my kids and myself and wondering if that fits here.

Boy does it ever.

I am quick to always come to the rescue and clean up every mess and spill and finagle that the boys get into – even though they would learn more if they had to clean up for themselves. I’m not doing it to deprive them of learning, somehow I’ve just taken it all on as being “my job” – whether or not that is sensible.

There are a few chores that everyone pitches in with, but I’m careful to not pick things that cause much argument. I’d rather not argue. But now I have kids that just expect me to do things, things they are fully capable of doing for themselves. These three boys have this level of expectation and “you owe me” that is insane. If one of them gets something, they all have to have something. Example:

Our 14 year old has a summer job mowing lawns, and he likes to ride his bike to the corner store to get a coke or snack when he’s earned a little money. But the little brothers think they are entitled to something because the 14 year old got something. I found myself yesterday explaining that our favorite-headed-shaggy fella (the 14 year old) earned that money from working, and he is not required to buy them a drink.

Fair is not always equal.

On the same token, the favorite-headed-shaggy-fella believes that he is entitled to having a cell phone. In fact, our generally good natured kiddo morphed into a super monster while his phone wasn’t working. Phone got fixed, the attitude got better. He expects to have that phone and to be able to watch videos on it without end or limit.

We are trying to teach him to save, too. And I have incurred such an endless amount of whining over saving a portion of his lawn mowing income, it makes me want to scream! I just hope that by being “tough” about it, and not caving, he will learn to manage his money more wisely than his dad and I have done.

Then, I look at the debt that I have, and that hubby has, and that we have together. You know, we feel pretty entitled, too. When we wanted something, we went and got it. Regardless of whether or not we had already earned enough to pay for it. So, we racked up all this debt, and now it’s really cramping our style.

We didn’t earn the stuff we bought, or the money to buy the stuff, first. Instead, we got the stuff and worked off having it – resulting in huge amounts of stupid tax being paid to our creditors over the years.

Today, I’m praying that God would squash and abolish our former ways of thinking. I’m praying that in our own life, God would help hubby and I to live more wisely and work harder – that neither of us would live as though we “deserve” or are “owed” or are “entitled” to anything we have not earned. I am praying that as parents we would examine our words and actions closely, and that we would make our kids earn the things they should earn, contribute to the household to the best of their ability, and teach them a better way. I pray that we don’t teach them entitlement by the gifts we give, or the lives we life. I pray that we teach all of them that fair does not mean equal, and that what is fair for one of them is not always fair for all of them.

Have you ever faced entitlement in your life? How did you deal with it?

My prayer right now…

Things have been a little crazy with Christmas heading at us at top speed, so many birthdays around this time of year, and our upcoming baby girl…my head has been spinning and I am feeling overwhelmed. I’ve gotten extremely caught up in the idea of giving the kids a “good” Christmas, so much so that suddenly I’m wondering if I am defining a “good” Christmas the right way.

For those of you that know me, you know we don’t do Santa, and my favorite tradition is reading about the arrival of Jesus on Christmas morning. I’ve always swung toward the religious side with my Christmas traditions, and have even sometimes been mercilessly picked on for it…but that never bothered me.

This Christmas is a little different than some of our other Christmas’ and as the holiday approaches and we are struggling to give the kids a good Christmas, I think I missed something. Sure, I tried to leave the commercial idea of Santa out. I talk with the boys about what St. Nick did many years ago, and that he wanted Jesus to get the credit. And we read the bible on Christmas morning. But even in all of that, I feel like there is a quota I must meet in gift-giving to fulfill what Christmas should be.

And I’m even struggling with the idea that the kids won’t understand receiving less…but is that true? Am I teaching them the right or wrong lessons? Am I teaching them a sense of entitlement? That no matter the cost to the people around them, they should get and have what they want? How do I teach them to be grateful for a little and not bitter because their friends got more? Or because they got more during a different holiday season?

My prayer is that God would speak to me about these lessons and how to teach them…that He would soften the hearts of my children to learn these lessons gracefully. I pray now that God would reveal to me what my actions teach my kids, not just this season, but always. I pray that instead of teaching the boys that the world owes them, that I owe them, that I would teach them to be thankful always, in times of plenty and times of want. I pray that they would be dedicated individuals with a desire to work hard. I pray that they would value stuff the right way, and not put stuff above family, or other people. I pray earnestly for the peace and strength to walk through these lessons, and the focus to keep my eyes on Jesus and all that I have to be thankful for, too.