In the past three months, I’ve learned that parenting, to a much greater degree than personal finance, is controlled by an infinite number of variables.
With personal finance, we are “in control” of seemingly finite, concrete variables, but are still largely at the mercy of circumstances.
When it comes to kids, we try to do and say the right things, provide the right experiences and lessons, but ultimately there is someone else in the driver’s seat–a human being with their own unique set of DNA. Nature vs. nurture aside, there are just so many ways to shine or screw up along the way. How does anyone possibly know what to do?
It’s no different when it comes to entitlement. We’ve all seen them (some of us might even admit to raising them)–little brats running around the mall or at the local restaurant screaming “Daddy, I want…,” “Mommy, get me…,” “Grandma, give me that!” For the majority of the sane population, it’s like hearing nails on a chalkboard. But as parents, are we simply BLIND to how our own kids are being raised? Are we ignoring the over-indulgence and spoiling of our little ones, and raising the ultimate entitled generation?
Donna Corwin, the author of Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me tackles this very question, and her book tour stops at Fiscal Fizzle today. Suffice it to say, with the recent birth of my first child and my interest in money, I was very intrigued by what she had to say.
“Parents must take the reigns and monitor their children’s activities and not give in so readily to demands. It took me a while to realize the off button is in my hands–not my child’s–and in this book, I will help you to press this button.”
And does she ever.
Donna kicks things off by exploring a number of “traps” that lead to entitlement:
- Always getting kids the “best” of everything (i.e. “keeping up with the Joneses”)
- Rewards for existence (Don’t some of us feel entitled to have certain rights simply because we live?…but let’s not go off-topic to health care, now.)
- Bugging for attention, and getting it consistently
- Overindulgence, lack of boundaries, and overprotecting
- Social exclusion as a result of a “better than you” attitude from your child
- Not letting your child fail to learn important life lessons (Wow, is that a big one in today’s overprotective society!)
- Going Overboard (come on, you know you’ve watched at least one episode of My Super Sweet 16, and vomited thereafter)
- and finally, Label Lovers, since a Target or Gap shirt simply won’t work in today’s high school “world.”
Is that a great list or what? My heart was halfway up to my throat just thinking about experiencing any of these with my own children. Will I have enough self-awareness to see my own actions and how they help or hurt my child’s sense of entitlement?
To answer some of those fears, Donna explores parental entitlement traps that are at the root of potential problems with children. They include:
- Attachment to our own parent’s models and styles
- Overidentification with our kids (like “that guy” at your kid’s baseball game)
- Self-involved attitudes, like a lack of delayed gratification and blame
The rest of the book is filled with solid, practical advice about how to deal with all of the above in a consistent, well-intentioned manner. Donna covers topics like:
- Behavior/Reward Charts (one of my favorite sections)
- Media messages and role models
- Achievement and creativity
- Values, respect, morals, and manners
- Teaching kids about money (a basic primer)
- Family communication and problem solving
- Un-spoiling kids
I am really, really looking forward to re-reading this book and discussing it with my wife. We’ve had so many conversations about not spoiling our kids already, and this is a perfect companion for future talks!
FTC Disclosure: This post includes a review of product(s) that were sent to me free of charge.
Photo: Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me Cover