Stop the Next Entitlement Generation Before It Starts

entitlement generation facebookMy son Elijah took the news that I was leaving for a week-long work retreat pretty hard. Dad, he cried, whose gonna buy me toys while you’re gone?

Yep, I’m indispensable around the house.

My son’s despair reminded me of an item from my Facebook feed today. A young woman is suing her parents to force them to pay for her college education. The Facebook friend who posted the news bemoaned what he called the “entitlement generation.” The girl in question left home “over a family dispute” at 18 but now insists her parents owe her a free ride to college.

The news item was tailor-made for social media. It’s a little daffy and makes us feel better about our own lives. And, of course, the legal details aren’t as obvious as one would think. Beyond the legal mumbo jumbo lies a chilling thought. Why does my son expect toys from me whether I’m at home or on a work trip? Is this the first warning sign that he’ll be joining that Entitlement Generation?

Mommylibrium and I have been having a hard time with Elijah’s zest for toys. I inadvertently started the problem by buying him a small gift every time we shopped at Target. The super-chain offers a dollar toy section, so it felt harmless to buy him something whenever we go shopping. Plus, he had to behave the entire time he was at the store in order to earn it.

Now, whenever the family goes shopping at any store he expects to get a toy. Is that how Ms. Entitlement Generation 2014 got her start?

In our son’s defense, he’s only five and can’t be expected to handle receiving gifts with the maturity of an adult. And I suspect the young woman featured in that news clip was coddled above and beyond a barrage of cheap toys.

Her sad story is still a reminder to parents everywhere. A spoiled child is the fault of a misguided parent. And any dad who sees the fruit of his poor parenting on his Facebook page gets what he deserves.

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  1. says

    It’s tough, isn’t it? I’ve got a 3 yo at home that we struggle with on a regular basis, but we’ve explained to him that sometimes mommy and daddy have money for special things, like toys, and sometimes they’ve only got money for groceries when we go to the store. We then follow up with reinforcement questions like “what might we see at the store?” and “are we going to get one of those today?” He’ll answer “no” and sometimes try to sidestep toward getting something else, but after a few rounds of talking about it, it seems to be fairly well cemented. When we get to the store, he’ll still want to go and see/touch the toys, but all we have to do is ask him “are we getting one today?” and he says “no” and puts it back.

    It’s a constant back and forth, when the easy road would be to just buy him the kinder egg/other toy, but I think it will eventually pay dividends.

    • Christian Toto says

      Oh, it would be much easier! So much of parenting it setting aside ‘easy’ and doing what’s right, and I confess I don’t always make the correct call in these cases.

  2. says

    The story is on my mind as well. It makes me wonder what obligations we have to our children. This kid clearly expects everything though I think you are right to give your son some slack.

    • Christian Toto says

      Slack, yes … but there’s still a lesson to be taught. It’s always hard to know what info a young child will truly get as opposed to hearing, ‘blah blah blah no toy for you!’ Good to know I’m not alone!

  3. Maureen Toto says

    A five year old is not equipped to express his feelings. He knows he will miss you and loves you but all he could say was he’ll miss the toys. His maturity level is unable to let you know he is going to miss you because he loves you and knows you cherish him. That will come in later years. All he knows is he is sad since you will be away. Little darling.

  4. Stephen says

    My daughter is convinced that I go to work in order to earn money for diapers. Is that my attempt to explain why we work? The concept of paying for things when you use a credit card or even cash is impossible to link to work. If we were an agricultural society on a bartering system, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    But alas, we’re not. If we were, we’d have a whole new set of parenting challenges.

    • Christian Toto says

      We tried to tell Elijah that his grandma didn’t have any more money left to buy him goodies,and he seemed to think she would head directly to the poor house as a result!

  5. says

    This one has really bugged me too.. the spoiled B who tried to sue her parents to pay for college, and my reflections on my own kids. I think the fact that you are thinking about it now, when he is 5, is the biggest thing. It’s those parents who don’t worry about it and say “oh, he’s only 5… and Oh.. he’s only 12, oh.. he’s only 17”, that are the ones that end up getting sued by their kids when they are older.

    I think that society in general, advertising, the government etc, is teaching our kids that there is something out there for them… it’s their’s, they just have to go and get it. They all expect equal results for equal effort.. and it doesn’t work that way. For me, with our kids, I just want to teach them to work hard in everything they do. If they give it their best effort, then they will be rewarded, maybe not now, not immediately, but it will pay off in the long run. I think this helps to curb the entitlement mentality, and hopefully I won’t get a lawsuit thrown against my by little johnny when he’s older :O

    Great post.

    • says

      Love your perspective on this … as a dad, everything in life is a challenge. Work. Marriage. Bill paying. So cutting a corner or two by letting your kids get away with x, y or z is soooo tempting. But sometimes the results pop up on our Facebook feed!

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