By Carey Nieuwhof
Like most parents, you feel this terrible tug. On the one hand, you want to provide your child with every advantage. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like when you do that, you’re feeding an incredibly unhealthy characteristic in our culture.
For whatever reason, we’re living in the midst of an entitlement epidemic. Probably more than any other generation before us, our generation feels as though we have a right to things that used to be defined as wants, or even privileges.
So, what do you do to fight entitlement in yourself and in your kids? Here are five suggestions:
1. Be clear on wants and needs. I joke with my kids that we owe them shelter, food, and clothes, and I would be happy to slip a pizza under the door to their cardboard house any time they wish. Take time to explain what is actually a need and what a want is. Culture will never explain it to them. You need to.
2. Reclaim special occasions. There is nothing wrong with not buying wants for your kids in everyday life. Save the special things for special occasions. You don’t need to indulge for no reason. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.
3. Set a budget and let them choose. With back to school shopping and seasonal purchases, we started setting a budget with our kids early and then let them choose how they would spend it. They become much more frugal shoppers when all of a sudden they realize that money is limited and they can get more if they shop around.
4. Establish an allowance and expectations. An allowance is a great way for a child to learn responsibility. We’ve encouraged our kids to give 10 percent of every thing they earn, save 10 percent, and live off the rest (the formula gets more restrictive the closer they get to college). Explain what gets covered and not covered out of that allowance.
5. Be clear about what you will never pay them for. There are some things that you do because you are a part of the family. You can decide where that lands in your home. Make a list of responsibilities that no one gets paid for that you do because you are part of a family.
Approaches like these can help raise kids who see life as a series of privileges, who live gratefully, and realize their responsibility to others.
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