We’ve all seen it. A teenager riding the top model of Huffy bike, wearing Air-Jordan sneakers and designer jeans, while talking on his new iPhone. Today’s younger generation seems to feel entitled to own the best of everything that is advertised on television. They’ve grown up in a society that tells them they deserve it. Parents foster and fuel this perceived entitlement by striving to provide everything that they want. This is a dangerous practice. Even if a parent can afford to fulfill a child’s every whim, doing so leaves the child ill prepared for the realities of adult life.
Where Did This Entitlement Come From
There are many opinions as to why parents indulge children more today than in the past; but reasons are unimportant. It’s the long term effects of the child’s feeling of entitlement without incurring responsibility for acquiring things that fulfill his desires. As long as parents can afford to fulfill the child’s wants, the child will grow into a fulfilled, somewhat spoiled, but apparently well adjusted adult. When automatic fulfillment is no longer possible, however, the young adult goes into crisis. He is not prepared to face the reality of financial responsibility. The child will have the desire to fulfill his wants, but not the means. Children need to learn, early in life, that every benefit has a cost; that to enjoy a benefit the child must accept the burden of the financial obligations that support that benefit.
When my two sons were very young, my husband and I decided to provide them with a sense of financial responsibility. We gave each an allowance of $5.00 each week. We explained that they could spend it on anything that they wanted, but that they would get no more money until the following week. The very first week, $4.75 was spent at the toy department in the local mall. Subsequent pleas for ice cream and candy went unfulfilled. It took several months for them to understand the results of their spending habits, but eventually they began to check prices to see if they had enough money to fulfill other wants during the week.
The next lesson that needed to be taught was that most purchases required additional upkeep costs following the initial purchase. One son’s goldfish was an excellent example. The fish was affordable (we already had a fish bowl), but the upkeep in food came as a surprise to him. It became a regular deduction from his monthly allowance to feed the fish. This training in upkeep of initial purchases provided him with valuable knowledge when it came time for him to evaluate the purchase of his first car. Initial cost is secondary to maintenance.
There are certain things that parents are obligated to provide for their children: clothing, food, shelter, primary education, and other such necessities. As the child becomes older and requires more adult things like automobiles, cell phones, computers, apartments, specialized clothing, pets, etc., it becomes the young adult’s responsibility to provide for both purchase and maintenance of these items. That doesn’t mean that parents cannot help when possible. It means that the young adult must belly up to the bar of life and be responsible for his or her financial commitments and responsibilities.
Early, firm, and disciplined training in the use of money; earning, saving, and spending, will safeguard your child when he becomes old enough to enter the world of college and employment where the lure of goods will undoubtedly exceed financial ability. The restraint and discipline learned as a child will prevent him from becoming a financial catastrophe as a young adult.
Laura Cecil, a single mother of three kids and the editor of www.Livesnet.com, a site that reviews the hot baby products and gives parents parenting tips. And her single parenting life has been totally changed since she has built this site with her friends several months ago. She really likes sharing her reviews and her parenting tips with all parents. Please visit Livesnet.com and read her recent review on Safest Britax Convertible Car Seat.