Have you ever had the displeasure of hearing an adult whine? There’s no sound like it . . . completely unnatural and wretched to the ears. It is one of the few things in life that has the potential to make me gnaw off my own skin, as a means of escape. Here’s another one. Have you ever been stuck in line behind a man or woman at, say, Starbucks and watched him or her throw an outright fit? Maybe the flavored syrup was out of stock. Could be the cashier rang up the order wrong. Either way, the yelling, fist-pounding, and overall ugly attitude is downright shocking. You may wonder where in the world I’m going with this. It is maddening to picture these scenarios, and it probably conjures up plenty of times you’ve actually witnessed some grown person acting a dang fool.
Here’s the deal, folks. I refuse to raise entitled kids. Entitled kids turn into entitled grownups. Entitled grownups are zero fun to be around. Entitled grownups aren’t exactly looking to make the world a better place. Entitled grownups produce more entitled kids. It’s a vicious cycle. I have plenty of missions in my motherhood journey, but one of my biggest goals is to teach my children to live with a generous and content heart. I want to foster an environment at home where my kids learn to live outwardly. How can they be helpful? How can they live peacefully with those around them? Are they able to be joyful, despite not getting what they want? This is the stuff I value. When my chicks leave the nest, I want to be confident I’m unleashing an army of helpers out into the world. I want to know the flesh of my flesh is out there doing good and looking for ways to give of themselves. The following are tactics I’ve employed at home, in the hope I can squelch the entitlement that daily threatens to misguide my children.
“Chores AREN’T fun.” This is music to my ears every single time I hear it! As my kids run the vacuum, scrub toilets, and pick up dog poop from the back yard, I get all the feels. There are jobs in this life that must be done, despite the fact they bring us no personal pleasure. (Hello, potty training!) The sooner our children learn this truth, the better. Having a chore chart teaches my kids responsibility and ownership. They are needed as part of the family team. Mine get an allowance each week. Some parents think differently on the subject. The bottom line is that kids can begin to understand, at a young age, they have the ability to contribute. Those who are actively contributing to a larger group or cause just don’t have as much time to sit and think about “me.”
Oh, friends! Let me tell you about one of my favorite parenting tools. The mighty Consequence Jar! Mommy’s Little Helper is a mason jar filled with chores. The jobs are age-appropriate for my crew and range anywhere from washing windows to cleaning your sibling’s room.
When my two are having a moment (sometimes several) where they just can’t get along, I make them each pull a job from the jar. I don’t ask who started it. I don’t want to know details. Each kid simply picks a chore and gets to work. I want to teach them that they are in this family thing together. Together they must learn to live peacefully, work, and play. If they make the choice not to do so, I use their fighting energy towards a good cause . . . a cleaner home! Usually by the time they’ve completed the chore, they are ready to try again with their sibling.
Indulging Myself, Not Them
Back to Starbucks. I tend to pay homage to the coffee gods about once a week. Every time I am in the drive-thru, I hear the same question from the back seat. “Can we get a cake pop?” For a while, I gave in. With each coffee (needed because of YOU early risers, thankyouverymuch), the kids were automatically getting a treat. And then one day, I went rogue. What, in the ever-loving world, was I teaching them? I indulge and, as kids, they reserve the right to do the same. Kids get what they want every time they ask. Oh. Heck. No. You’d better believe the minute I realized the attitude I’d been encouraging, I flipped the script. Now I make sure the cake pops are actually a treat. If I buy coffee five times, they might get a goody once. Might. Sometimes I will offer to take my crew to get snow cones, but I explain it is a kids-pay trip. They have to pull allowance from the old piggy bank and pay up if they really want a treat. Because I’m so very dedicated to teachable moments, I will even grab my trusty pint of ice cream as the kids are getting ready for bed. I get a sick sense of delight when I see their eyes widen and they begin questioning me. I am more than glad to break it down for them. Sometimes mommy and daddy enjoy treats after they go to sleep. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it! It ain’t all about you, kiddo!
The ideas I’ve presented are exactly that, friends. Ideas. They are tools incorporated to give this rookie mom some sense of hope for our future generations. Nothing about this is fool-proof. It isn’t an exact science. I am simply one mom, saying she’s tired of the me-culture. No more whining or pouting. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Am I right, people? Join me! Put those kids to work! Don’t buy them the treat just because you can! Let’s kick entitlement to the curb. Who’s with me?