ARE WE DEALING WITH A SPOILED, ROTTEN GENERATION OF CHILDREN? IF SO, HOW DID WE GET HERE? I THINK IT'S GRANDMA'S AND EVEN OUR GREAT-GRANDMA'S FAULT!
Ok, here are my thoughts on the entitled mentality, or WIIFM's …
First, I would like to start out by saying that I am only covering this one aspect of entitlement. Of course, there are as many reasons as there are individual circumstances. For example, fathers impact, generational history, etc. I am not saying this is the only reason for entitlement but just one possibility.
When I work with parents, my main focus is to encourage them to teach and instill character traits that will improve their children’s behavior. The parents are to help the children focus onwho they are inside, not just what they do. For example, a truthful child does not lie. Character traits matter and drive behavior.
Let me start by saying that I acknowledge how many wonderful families and parents there are who have taught their children wonderful character traits such as honesty, hard work, gratitude, responsibility and accountability. There are also many parents who are so frustrated with their spoiled children that they are scratching their heads wondering how that happened. They admit their children control them!
We all know that events can change history and most events will likely have both positive and negative effects. After all, when we pick up one end of the stick we pick up the other. A major part of history changed the family dynamics as women began receiving the same rights as men. Of course, women voting is usually concerned to be the first step. However, in our time, we are the most familiar with the second wave of the Equal Rights Movement, beginning in the 60’s and that is the time period I want to address.
There is no doubt women have come a long way since then and many wonderful changes have occurred. Stephanie Coontz described that time for women "…wives bore the full load of housekeeping and child care, spending an average of 55 hours a week on domestic chores".1
"In 1962, Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique captured the frustration and even the despair of a generation of college-educated housewives who felt trapped and unfulfilled. As one woman said, ‘I'm desperate. I begin to feel I have no personality. I'm a server of food and a putter-on of pants and a bed maker, somebody who can be called on when you want something. But who am I?’"2
This is where I ask you to open your minds and hear me out.
I was a ten year old in 1965 with an older sister who was twenty years older than me. She was the age of the women who felt that they were "only a housewife", in a thankless job, feeling unappreciated by hubby and children. Disgruntled "housewives" met with other like-minded women around their neighborhood discussing their plight and the need of feeling fulfilled.
My thought process concerning women’s situation began for me around the age of ten. My current opinion comes from listening and observing over the last fifty years.
I am writing specifically about the family situation and want to address how and why I believe it morphed into where we are today with our entitled children.
From around 1960 - 1990 ish
*Women went to work. Children and husbands didn’t like it, however women did like it, but they felt guilty.
*One of the perks for women besides the change of scenery was to get that "extra" paycheck.
Note: Hubby’s paycheck was "theirs" but her money was "hers’.
*With her "extra money" she was able to ease her guilt by buying "things" for the children.
*With her "extra money" they could now afford to pay for those "extra-curricular activities".
AND of course, her "extra money" has to pay for childcare.
*Before long, mom’s "extra money" became a necessity and the guilt was gone now due to happier children. They had decided maybe they could "get by" without mom at home since they are getting these extra "perks". Those "extra perks" also included the climb up the socio-economic ladder which of course, cost more of mom's money.
*Mom’s life still included the duties of a wife, mother, full-time employee and taxi-driver to all of those extra activities. This was all crammed into approximately half the time she had as a full time wife and mother.
From around 1990 to present
Around thirty years later, that generation of mothers are now grandmothers.
And those children are now the next generation of mothers and they…
*…are used to having whatever they want and have little or no memory of their mother being home.
*Her children have grown up expecting these extra perks; the "things" and "activities" are now considered to be "needs" rather than "wants".
*The mother expects to do these things for her children because this is how she grew up and this lifestyle is "normal". She is doing her duty and her social network expects it.
*Toward the end of this generation, women again felt taken advantage of and unappreciated as their children "expected" these things of her and showed little, if any gratitude. She now feels "trapped in this rat race called life".
*Now she looks at her children as they stomp their feet in anger, demanding the newest and the best because so and so has it or so and so is doing it, etc.
1. Coontz, Stephanie. "When We Hated Mom." New York Times. 7 May. 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/opinion/08coontz.html?_r=0
2. Collins, Gail. When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2009. P. 117.
Of course, this is just one aspect of what may have helped to contribute to the entitled mentality of our children. As people give their opinions, I would like to begin a list with the reasons you give.
So, please tell me where I am wrong or if you agree. Of course, I am aware of many other causes for the entitled mentality. Please leave a comment about what you believe. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Jane E. Jenkins