My friend, Kim, from Eyes on the Dollar, shared her experiences with some entitled kids last week, and it’s a topic that deserves our attention. It is a problem more parents face than we probably realize, and the trend will only continue unless we make some conscious changes.
It’s not my intent to point fingers or cast blame. It has been my experience that most parents with entitled kids never intended for this to happen. They wanted their children to have a good life, so they gave their kids everything, hoping it would help them exceed their own success.
The reality is we sometimes inadvertently create entitled kids instead. Kids who are accustomed to receiving everything they want, simply because they want it. They have little concept of money and how to manage it properly. They want something; they get it. And expect Mom and Dad to bail them out when their money runs low or creditors come a-knocking.
As a financial advisor, I’ve helped parents who have put their own financial future at risk because they still support adult children who remain unable or unwilling to fend for themselves. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and complain about their enablement, but it’s also much harder when it’s your own child you’re turning out.
It’s been my observation that these are the common culprits to creating entitled kids. It is much harder to change behaviors and mindsets when our kids are adults, so now is the to make sure you’re truly giving your kids a good life, rather than an entitled one.
This is probably the most dangerous mistake parents make. When money is given without being earned or for a valid reason, kids assume that is normal. It’s not. It doesn’t mean you need to be miserly with your money or never treat your child to a surprise present. Of course, you can, but the key word is “surprise”. Seeing Lauren and Taylor’s eyes light up at an unexpected gift is one of the greatest pleasures of being a parent. But I also don’t ever want to create the expectation that I will buy girls everything they want. It doesn’t surprise me when kids ask for money or want their parents to buy them something because that’s normal, and we do them a disservice when we always say “yes”. They need to understand money is precious and earned.
One of the hardest things to do as a parent is watch your kids suffer a failure and not prevent it from happening. We want our kids to succeed and feel good about themselves. Thus, we are constantly on the lookout for anything that may darken our child’s day and eliminate the problem ourselves. And when they do experience some sort of a set-back, we comfort them with food or a new toy or gadget to ease their pain, creating a belief that wounds need to be comforted with food and gifts.
It is our job as parents to protect and support our kids, but we also have to let them experience the real world, which isn’t always perfect. We can certainly comfort them and walk side-by-side to support them as they learn from their mistakes or recover from set-backs, but we cannot carry them every time something “tough” or “hard” comes along either. They need to learn to become nimble on their own two feet and trust in their own ability to overcome hardships. Otherwise we will be their fixer … forever.
Please note: I am well aware there are situations where we absolutely must intervene on our children’s behalf and encourage you to do so in those instances. At the same time, we need to be conscious of when we’ve moved into overprotection mode, which can be a detriment to our children’s growth.
Growing up, I had many conversations with my parents about what I wanted to do when “I grew up”. My parents expected me to do my best in school, go to college, graduate and get a good job. I believe I have fulfilled their expectations. 🙂 Unfortunately, some parents are more ambivalent when it comes to setting expectations with their kids. Now I don’t believe you should force a child to go to college who has zero interest in doing so. It will be an expensive lesson in futility. At the same time, I also don’t think your child should live at home and play video games all day while you make them dinner, wash their clothes and pick up after them either. You need to set clear expectations (and realistic ones too) or your kids will languish.
My daughter, Lauren, is 10 years old, and I regularly ask her why it’s important to get good grades in school. Her answer? So she can go to a good college, get a good job and buy a nice house, but not too nice of a house. She wants to have enough money leftover to travel, because that’s important to her too. Every time I hear her answer, my smile gets bigger. I have no doubt that Lauren will make this a reality some day.
I believe my husband and I are giving our daughters a great life. One rich in love, support and experiences. They also know that we work very hard in order to make this great life possible, and none of us take it for granted. Next week, I will share some steps on how to give your kids a good or great life that prepares them to succeed in this world.
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