The ‘Me’ Generation

7 Nov

Growing up, dinner time was a pleasurable experience.

My mother having quite a number of arrows in her culinary quiver dished out whatever she felt was a wholesome meal for the family. We sat around the table, excited if it was our favourite dish …. else grumbled for a minute but soon got immersed into conversations and all you could then hear was the clinking of glasses and an occasional reprimand from mom to be quiet while we eat.

That’s why I was taken by surprise last week when I witnessed the fuss created by a couple and their child dining beside me at a restaurant.

The child sat sullen faced refusing to eat while the mother kept offering to order various dishes out of the elaborate menu. The father, quite helpless tried diffusing the tension with some humour which got the kid quite annoyed after which he refused to look up from the gadget he had in his hands. The distraught couple soon gulped down a quick meal and left in a hurry.

Such scenes are not very uncommon today. Children today belong to an over-protected, over –pampered and over-indulged generation.

The singular most important aim of most parents is to ensure complete comfort and happiness of their child – so much so that the child begins to grow up with the belief that they are the center of the universe.

Bending backwards parents constantly fulfill every ‘want’ of their child, while also making sure to mow down all perceivable obstacles in their child’s path, that threaten to cause the youngster any discomfort.

Is it then any wonder that our children get a sense of entitlement……. That they believe they should get what they want , when they want !!

Parents spend money and energy to make every event in their child’s lives special and memorable. Extravagant birthday parties, Expensive gifts, lavish holidays- too much, too soon. When every occasion is so special, even the special gets boring and ordinary.

No matter how much they have, they want more – the line between wants and needs blur and we have on our hands children with a grandiose sense of entitlement. Bored quickly these children have still to develop skills like resilience and frustration tolerance. Skills that are imperative as they walk along life’s uneven roads.

If we look at entitlement as learned behavior, are we then ready to redefine our parenting approach… Allow our children and young adults to be resilient, responsible and resourceful?

A few tools that curb the entitlement epidemic include –

Instead of doing things for our children and making life easy and comfortable for them under the umbrella of love, help them develop them age appropriate skills and empower them to step up and take personal responsibility in various areas of their lives.

Teach children strategies to deal with setbacks by equipping them with perseverance for as the English proverb goes – A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

Show them ways to keep track of their ‘to do’ lists.  Let your child face the consequences for his/her forgetfulness.

Cut back on over indulging. Be clear about the difference between giving your child what he ‘needs’ and what you give that are ‘privileges’. Kids don’t need to have all the luxury. It only serves to feed their sense of entitlement. Love and Family time is all that children need.

The ability to delay gratification is crucial for future success. Help them develop this skill.

Parenting isn’t a popularity contest. You don’t need to be your child’s friend. Your child needs a parent figure who sets limits and ground rules. No doubt a few age appropriate decision making can be left to the child but do not cave in to all his/her demands.

Teach them to give back to the less fortunate. Talk to them about the causes that as a family you could support. This brings about a shared sense of purpose and changes their perspective.

Train them to take turns, share, compromise, lose, win and use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

As parents the onus is on us to challenge our children’s feeling of entitlement – So that when they go into the real world they will be able to make a connection between making an effort and achieve their goals.

Children change the moment parents change their unhelpful parenting practices

 

 

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