A series about entitlement on Pass the Bread got me thinking.
I don’t believe that we would intentionally choose to overindulge our children, but it can creep in.
I don’t think that we would purposefully decide to let our kids feel entitled to things that they really haven’t earned, but it happens.
And sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate the best way to love them when there’s an opportunity for character development through discomfort.
Although there are many different circumstances that influence parenting, I believe that one of the biggest factors that feeds into entitlement in our culture is the glorification of comfort. Actually, even in our adult lives, when we value comfort more than character development, we will feel more entitled to things that we haven’t actually earned.
For example, last night our Little Man gave us another opportunity to choose between comfort and character development.
Little Man: “Daddy, can I have a cookie?”
Little Man: “Mommy, can I have a cooke?”
Me: ”What did Daddy say?”
Little Man: ”He said ‘yes’.”
Daddy: ”Nolan, you were not honest. So you definitely do not get a cookie.”
It would’ve made him “comfortable” to get the treat that he wanted. And it would’ve made me “comfortable” to give him the cookie so he would stop crying about it! But my husband reminded me that this was an opportunity for character development. In this scenario, I hope that our Little Man learned that we value HONESTY!
Another time, Little Man gave us an opportunity to show him that we value patience. While shopping at Target a couple weeks before his birthday, he saw rescue claw that he’d wanted for a long time. So I tried to secretly put it in the basket to save for his birthday.
But he knew it was there.
And he knew that I bought it.
And he knew that it was at home.
But he also knew, that it was for his birthday.
So almost everyday leading up to his 3rd birthday, he’d ask, “Can I have the claw now?”
And each time, I’d respond, “Nope, it’s for your birthday.”
That claw was a fairly inexpensive toy. It would’ve made him feel “comfortable” if I gave it to him early. It would’ve made me feel “comfortable” to get him to stop asking about it! But I’m hoping that in those 2 weeks (which probably felt like 2 months to him), he learned that PATIENCE is important to me.
We can’t really expect our kids to value things like patience, honesty, generosity, and kindness until they consistently see that we value them ourselves, anyways!
Everyday I have multiple opportunities to choose between comfort and character development for myself.
And everyday, my kids present multiple opportunities to show them that I value character development more than comfort.
It’s tough, and it’s usually not very clear that I’m basically deciding between these two things. So entitlement and indulgence can stealthily creep in.
But my hope is that through the times when I show my kids love through quality time, words of affirmation, and bear hugs, they will have a secure bond in my love for them and God’s love for them, and be able to trust that the times when I choose character development over comfort for them, it’s really out of love.