Over the past few weeks, the subject of youth entitlement thinking – the idea that the world should cater to the young without them having to do any work whatsoever – has come up in conversation an awful lot. I suppose it means that I’m getting old when “the younger generation” no longer includes me, but I digress.
It’s funny that these conversations have been happening at the same time that I’ve been teaching a fantastic group of high school students each Monday afternoon. It’s been so great to hear their ideas and plans for the future. To be clear, I am not referring to them in this post. These teens seem to be the complete opposite of what I just described. When I figure out exactly why, I’ll let you know.
The idea of having the benefits of work without putting in the labour had never occurred to me until I was a business owner and we were hiring a lot of new graduates. We managed to find many fantastic employees, but weeding through the not-so-fantastic applicants became harder and harder each year. At first I thought my standards were too high, but I soon began to hear rumblings of similar situations at other firms. From what I’ve heard recently, things have not improved in the work world. What is going on?
Some blame helicopter parenting – kids being constantly rescued by parents swooping in to fix a problem and then swooping back out, never allowing children to fight their own battles and do work for themselves. You may recall this issue being raised in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond:
This episode originally aired on February 4, 2002 – right in the middle of my hiring years, and before I’d heard of helicopter parenting. While I did have one interviewee apply her makeup while I was talking to her, thankfully I never got a call or fax from a parent! That being said, it would seem that parents interference is becoming commonplace. I have a friend who worked at an admissions office for a college and she fielded many phone calls from parents requesting either transcripts or justification for the grades their kids (now adults, I would point out) had received. Perhaps helicopter parenting is part of the problem, but I think there is more.
Are we spoiling our kids?
Do your children have everything they want? We all know in theory that we shouldn’t give our children everything, but then we get busy and sometimes it’s easier to just buy the item than it is to fight the battle. Or maybe getting our kids the latest gadget makes our lives easier because it keeps them occupied. I know it’s hard, but we really need to be aware of what we’re doing. The number of possessions we have and the strength of our character can have an inverse relationship if we’re not careful.
How do we prevent spoiling? By keeping the wallet shut and helping our children to work for what they want. Just today, my 8 year old said she wished she had her own smart phone. I smiled and asked her if she knew how much they cost. Her eyes got big when I gave her the number and she wanted to know how I managed to get one if they were that expensive. I told her the truth – I saved my money. In this case, I could even add that I bought one used, but I can’t say that every time!
As kids get older, an awareness of how much things actually cost and how many hours it takes to earn that amount can help them appreciate the value of purchases and work.
Are you worried about your children growing up thinking the world owes them everything they want?