Let me get straight to the point. Entitled kids become entitled adults…and that really is a huge problem not just for their own futures, but for the future of humankind. Read on to learn why, plus check out some of my favorite quotes about raising resilient and grateful kids, and for some tips on how to do just that.
What “entitled” really means (and what it doesn’t)
Before we start talking about why entitled kids are problematic for the entire human species, I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page about a few things.
First, let’s define “entitlement” itself because, in the words of the great Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Entitled literally means “having a right to certain benefits or privileges.”
Someone who feels that they have an inherent right to life-sustaining food, water, and shelter is not acting “entitled.” A child who feels they have an inherent right to feel safe and loved is not acting “entitled.” A woman who feels that she deserves the same pay for doing the same job at the same level of competence as her male co-worked isn’t acting “entitled.”
Simply put, things like food, water, shelter, safety, and equality aren’t “benefits” or “privileges” that we should have to earn; they’re inherent rights that every human deserves.
Second, let me clarify exactly what I think it means to raise entitled kids. It’s not about never giving in to your kids’ requests. It’s about not giving into their demands.
It’s not about forcing them to arbitrarily “respect their elders” whether said elders have actually earned that respect or not. It’s about teaching them to truly respect the people who have earned it.
It’s not even about being an “authoritative” parent versus a permissive one. I know plenty of so-called “permissive” parents with wonderfully grateful children. You don’t have to be a dictator to raise kids that don’t act entitled. You can be a gentle parent and raise amazing kids.
Now that we’ve cleared all of that up, let’s talk about why raising entitled kids who become entitled adults is such a huge problem for everyone.
Entitled Kids Become Entitled Dysfunctional Adults
Let’s start with the damage that we cause to our children’s futures when we raise entitled kids who become entitled adults.
One of the most noticeable consequences is difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships. Entitled adults often struggle to connect with others on a deep, meaningful level. Their sense of “I want this, ergo I should have it right now and it’s your responsibility to give it to me” can lead to an inflated ego, making it challenging for them to compromise, empathize, or consider others’ perspectives.
That can lead to issues in their professional life. They may find it hard to work cooperatively with colleagues, take constructive criticism, or adapt to changes in the workplace. No one wants to hire or work with someone who acts like they shouldn’t have to work, or that someone else should do everything for them. They become unemployable, and that leads to financial problems.
To make things even worse, entitled adults often live beyond their means. This can lead to overspending, financial instability, and a lack of financial responsibility. After all, in their mind, they deserve a nice house, a fancy car, a closet full of expensive clothes, and a vacation in the Bahamas every year. It’s a recipe for financial stress and hardship in the long run.
All of that takes a toll on their mental health, especially when they’re finally forced to face the realities of adulthood, such as bills, responsibilities, and even just everyday challenges. When you spend your whole life getting everything you want when you want it, it’s a major shock to the system to suddenly realize that you’ll actually have to work for the things you want.
Yes, I know, it’s hard to imagine feeling sorry for someone who is stressed out because they actually have to work for that fancy car, nice house, and expensive clothes. Especially when so many people struggle just to afford a working car, one-room house, and second-hand clothes.
But when it’s your child that’s suffering from depression and anxiety, you’ll not only feel sorry for them, you’ll be sorry that you didn’t better prepare them for adulthood.
Entitled Adults Become a Problem for Everyone
Beyond individual consequences, entitled adults also have an impact on society as a whole, and that’s where one person’s parenting choices become everyone’s problem. We don’t even need to imagine a worst-case scenario for this one. We’ve already seen how it plays out in a “real world” situation.
First, entitled adults have a very “me and mine” attitude. They prioritize their wants over others’ needs. We saw how well that worked out beginning in March of 2020 and all the way through until late 2021.
Rather than prioritizing everyone’s NEED and RIGHT to continue breathing, entitled adults threw toddler-like hissy fits over not being able to sit down in a restaurant or throw raging parties. They were “spitting mad” over being asked to cover their mouths while in public. I mean that literally. Grown adults actually SPIT on people because they didn’t get their own way. Talk about taking entitlement to whole new levels!
All of that dragged out something that could have been over within a month or two if everyone just acted like rational human beings. That, in turn, led to financial problems for nearly EVERYONE on the planet.
Even in the best of times, self-centered people aren’t exactly good for maintaining a thriving society. We need a world full of kind and compassionate people actively working together to change things. People who ask “how can I help?” Not people who ask, “What’s in it for me?”
The end result of all of this entitled behavior is a world where people are utterly unwilling to engage in constructive dialogue and compromise, or even consider diverse perspectives. Heck, entitled adults throw a fit if you even mention the word “diversity.”
Practical Tips for Raising Responsible Kids Who Don’t Act Entitled
Again, raising kids who aren’t entitled has nothing to do with saying “no” all of the time. Instead, it’s about:
Instill a sense of gratitude in your children. Encourage them to express thanks for the things they have, whether it’s a small gift, a delicious meal, or a loving family.
Establish clear (and rational) rules and boundaries in your family. This helps children understand that they can’t always get what they want and that there are limits to their demands.
Rewarding Hard Work
Instead of just giving your children what they ask for, encourage them to earn rewards through chores, good behavior, or academic achievements. This teaches them two important lessons. The first is, obviously, that nothing in life is free. They have to actually work for it. The second, though, is that they DO deserve “rewards” for hard work (as adults, that “reward” comes in the shape of a paycheck), and no one should make them work for free.
Teach your kids the concept of delayed gratification. Sometimes, it’s important to wait for things. It could be saving up for a special toy or looking forward to a fun outing. Plus, it teaches them that sometimes it’s the waiting that’s actually the fun part!
When your child faces challenges, help them develop their own critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Instead of fixing everything for them, guide them in finding solutions on their own.
Most important of all, raising kids who aren’t entitled is all about encouraging empathy and understanding of others’ needs. This helps children see the world from different perspectives and be more considerate of others. THAT is how we change the world, my friends!
The bottom line is that raising an entitled child doesn’t just make that child’s life hard in the future, it makes life harder for everyone else in this world, too. So just don’t do it, okay?