Are you raising entitled children?
After my daughter was born in 2015, I was bowled over by how expensive it all was. And I write about money for a living — I’m the Deputy Editor for Moneyish! Who knew it would cost over $500 a year just to keep her in diapers? Plus hundreds more for the “educational” toys and books I feel like a bad mom if I don’t buy. Then there’s daycare and babysitting — how can watching a few babies sleep, cry, and poop command nearly as much as my first salary? Plus, those doctor visits, college savings, clothes, organic snacks and more, well, it all added up to thousands more than I’d realized it would. And to top that all off, I had way less time to deal with my finances than I did pre-kids. I was barely skating by on minimal sleep as it was!
So I spent years digging into the smartest ways parents can save more and spend less — and do it all in less time. The result: The 30- Minute Money Plan for Moms, a money-saving book I wrote for busy parents like me. It offers up doable ways to save significant money that you haven’t heard a million times already, or that don’t take up hours of time. And it shows you (in a non-deadly boring or overly complicated way) how to efficiently put those savings towards the things that can give your kids a better life, be it an Ivy League education or a big yard to play in.
The following is an adapted excerpt from The 30- Minute Money Plan for Moms by Catey Hill (Copyright 2018). Used with permission from Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
At some point nearly every parent has looked around their home — littered with toys, iPads, games — and wondered: Has my generosity crossed the line into spoiling my kids?
The answer to this is, surprisingly, less about how many things you buy than it is about how the kids react to and feel about those things. “It’s about gratitude,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, author of Better than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love, who has seen many rich people with nearly every toy at their fingertips who are nevertheless well-adjusted and feel incredibly grateful for what they have. It’s okay to keep giving to a child who feels grateful for what she gets; not a good idea to keep giving to a child who feels entitled to the things she gets.
How do you teach gratitude? Of course, you can tell them about it, but the best way for kids to learn gratitude is for their parents to model it for them often. Have them watch you thank others daily for everything from bagging your groceries to washing your car, make a ritual where you both nightly share what you are grateful for, bring gifts to others like the pediatrician for no reason (have the kids help make the gifts), and make volunteering and giving back to your community a regular part of your household.
It’s also essential that your kids understand — and appreciate — all the hard work that went into you paying for and getting the things you give them. Talk to them about work, what that means for you, what it entails, and about how others are less fortunate but that they can do something about this.
So how do you know if your kids might be entitled? It’s sometimes hard to see it when you’re in the thick of it, but there are some phrases that your kids say that can signal to you that they feel entitled to things rather than grateful for them. These are big red flags that you may be spoiling them. Here are three:
1.“I deserve X.” (As in, “Mom, I deserve a new iPad because I’ve done so well in school.”)
2. “Because because other kids at school have it.” (As in, “I deserve a Razor scooter because all the other kids at school have it.”.)
3. “Because I want it.” (In response to you asking the kids why they want something, they respond with “because I want it.”)
If you hear phrases like these, take them as a warning sign that you haven’t communicated fully to your kids that the physical things they get from you like toys and electronics are a privilege not a right.
Yes, at one time or another, almost every one of our kids will say something like this so don’t feel bad! Instead, use it as a moment to highlight your family’s values. Kids should feel grateful that you can and do buy them things, not that they are entitled to things just because other people have them or because they’ve done something to deserve or even just because they want them.
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