Do you want your Kids to be Benevolent or Bratty?
Everyday there are opportunities for children to do kind things for others. It often appears, though, that many of them think only of themselves. You can see it nearly everywhere—from the way some kids push their way past each other to the aggressive way they bully, from their crude language to their explosive tempers.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in giving lots of love and expressing affection, however, none of us wants our kids to be those spoiled ones no wants to be around. .
A me-first mentality starts to flourish in many homes by some parents' indulging of their child’s every whim, while hesitating to administer any kind of guidance.
In contrast, many other parents are training their children to put others before self, and with great benefits. Children who are considerate are more likely to make friends and to enjoy stable relationships. They are also more likely to be content. Why? Because, as the Good Book says, “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35. When you're happy, you're content!
As a single-parent, how can you help your children to get the benefits of being kind and avoid being spoiled by the self-absorbed culture that surrounds them? Watch out for the 3 "Over" traps...
El problema compadre. Researchers have noted a disturbing trend: Many young adults are entering the workforce with a marked sense of entitlement—an attitude in which they expect success, even if they have done little or nothing to earn it. Sound familiar...It's not just late millennials. Some just assume that they will be promoted quickly, even without becoming decent at their job. Some are convinced that they are special and deserve to be treated that way—and then they become whiny, pouty or upset (or all 3) when they realize that the world does not recognize they're not the center of it.
Where'd that come from? Many times entitlement mentality can be traced back to how a child was raised. For example, some parents have been overly influenced by the 'self-esteem movement' that has become popular in recent decades. The theory it seemed plausible: If a little praise is good for kids, a lot of praise is better, right? On the other hand, the thinking was that showing any type of disapproval will only discourage a child. And in a world on a mission to build self-esteem, doing that was considered the epitome of irresponsible parenting. Parents were told children must never be made to feel bad about themselves. Many parents thus began lavishing a constant flow of praise upon their children, even whilst their children did nothing particularly praiseworthy.
"Look at me Ma, I picked my nose! Where's my ribbon?" - Me
Each accomplishment, no matter how small, was celebrated; each indiscretion, no matter how large, was overlooked. The loyal adherents of the esteem machine believed that the secret to building self-esteem was to ignore the bad and praise everything else. Making children feel good about themselves became more important than teaching them to accomplish things that they
could actually feel good about.
Praise is appropriate when it is deserved. But praising children simply to make them feel good may cause them to develop a distorted view of themselves. Don’t forget to correct your children. You won’t kill them by being firm.
So what can I do? Make it your goal to give correction when it is needed and commendation when it is genuinely deserved. Do not dole out praise just to make your children feel good about themselves. Likely, it will work only to frustrate them.
“True self-confidence comes from honing your talents and learning things, not from being told you’re great just because you exist.” - Generation Me
The problem, dude. In a survey of young adults, 81% believe that the most important goal of their generation is ‘to become rich’—rating it far above helping others. Scary but true. But striving for wealth does not bring contentment. Actually, research indicates that people who focus on material things are less happy in general and more depressed. They also have a higher rate of physical and mental problems. Ever seen rich and famous people with these kind of themes on magazines while waiting in the grocery line???
Why this happens: In some cases, children are being raised in materialistic families. All about the Benjamins...
“Parents want to make their children happy, and children want stuff, thus parents buy them stuff. And children are happy, but only for a short period of time. Then they want even more stuff.” - The Narcissism Epidemic.
Of course, the advertising industry exploits the ravenous consumer market. It tells us ‘You deserve the best’ and ‘Because you’re worth it.’ Many young adults have devoured the message and are now in debt, unable to pay for the things they “deserve.” Can you say discontent? Sure you can be rich, but if you're not already or didn't come from money, chances are you will have to sacrifice family and friends to get it. There is also NO guarantee that you will magically be happy. Plus, what is rich anyway...
What you can do. As a parent, look your own attitude toward money and the things it can buy. Keep your priorities straight, and help your children to do the same. Children follow example, not words. The Narcissism Epidemic, quoted earlier, suggests:
“Parents and children can start discussions on such topics as ‘When is buying things on sale a good idea? When is it a bad idea?’ ‘What’s an interest rate?’ ‘When have you bought something because someone else thought you should?’” -The Narcissism Epidemic.
Be careful not to use “things” and "stuff" as a patchy-blanket to cover over family issues that need to be addressed.
“Throwing material goods at problems is a notoriously unsuccessful solution, problems need to be addressed with thought, insight, and empathy, not shoes and purses.” - The Price of Privilege
The problem. Many young adults coming into the workforce nowadays seem completely unprepared to cope when things aren't going their way. Some of them are devastated by the slightest criticism. Others are flakey and will accept only work that meets their highest expectations. A great example of this is an interview of a young man this one doctor and author describes below:
“I get the sense that sometimes parts of the work can be a little boring, and I don’t want to be bored.” [Dr. Allen writes:] “He didn’t seem to understand that all jobs have some boring elements. How did one make it to age twenty-three without knowing that?” - Escaping the Endless Adolescence, Dr. Joseph Allen
Why so overprotective? In recent decades, many parents have felt compelled to protect their children from any type of adversity. Your girl failed a test? Intervene and demand that the teacher raise the grade. Your son received a traffic ticket? Pay the fine for him. While it is natural to want to protect your children, overprotecting the, especially from consequences, sends the wrong message—that they don't need to take responsibility for their actions.
“Instead of learning that they can survive pain and disappointment, and even learn from it, [such] children grow up extremely self-centered, convinced that the world and their parents owe them something.” - Positive Discipline for Teenagers
Unfortunately, adversity is currently a part of real life, better we teach them how to be adaptable and roll with the punches than hide it from them..
Where does that leave you? At some point your kid is going to have to face the real world. Sheltering them from anything that might slightly upset them will only hold them back. Again, children will follow example. We have worked through our problems as single-parents; this has built resilience and self-confidence—assets they might lack if we constantly rescue them.