Entitlement is an unrealistic expectation of special treatment. It’s an expectation of getting something without having to do anything yourself. Entitlement is expecting others to care about you, without you having to care about them. It is expecting to have your needs met, but not having to consider the needs of others. It shows up as a lack of empathy and a lack of personal responsibility. Have you seen this in your kids, in other kids?
Where does this come from?
The simple answer would be that children are learning that they deserve special treatment over others. It would mean that children aren’t learning about empathy or personal responsibility at home. In teaching children that they are deserving of special treatment, yet are not responsible for their actions, we do more than create entitlement. We also teach dis-empowerment. After all, one who is not responsible for himself, does not learn to be capable. One who has had everything done for him, does not learn to do for himself. It’s a sad situation that is leading to a lot of insecure, anxious, and angry children. This is what disempowerment and disconnection feel like.
It is strange to think how this privileged and entitled position could lead to dis-empowerment, but it is true. This is why you can see entitled children growing up with low self esteem. It might not look like it, but deep down, so many entitled people are insecure and do not feel responsible, in control, or capable. And due to their lack of empathy, they are isolated and disconnected from others. This privileged/insecure/disconnected combination, I believe, is the root cause of the entitlement we are seeing today.
So how are we doing this? What is happening at home? Here is what is leading to Entitlement:
- Parents teach their children that they are uniquely special and deserve special treatment above other people.
- Parents avoid teaching children about compassion and the feelings of others
- Parents avoid teaching personal responsibility because it’s easier, less friction.
- Parents fear rejection from the children, if boundaries and expectations are placed upon the child.
- Parents do things for their children because they don’t think their kids can do it.
- Parents do things for their children because they don’t want their kids to experience failure or hurt.
- Parents do things for their children because the parents themselves want to feel loved, useful or needed.
- Parents may simply forget or feel they don’t have time to teach their children about empathy and personal responsibility.
- Parents reject the teachings of personal responsibility because of their own past childhood experiences with it.
- Parents might not know how to properly teach children the skills of empathy and personal responsibility.
What is the Answer?
Take stock and be honest. Are you doing any of the things above? Get some perspective if you need. Spend time teaching empathy, encourage autonomy, give responsibility, and practice dealing with challenging situations. Adopt a growth mindset for you and your children. Start young, have patience, be positive, and trust that you are doing the right thing. It’s one of the most difficult things to do as a parent- to lovingly teach personal responsibility. But you will thank yourself for it later, and so might your kids.
The “I deserve” mentality doesn’t do us any favors. It’s nasty, and creeping into our culture. However, there is an antidote to this illness, and I call it “empathetic empowerment”. Think: “I am capable, I am responsible and I care about others”. It’s like kryptonite to entitlement.
In Truth and Love,