Little Discussed Danger Harming Our Kids (And It’s Our Faults)
Talking with food in your mouth: Check
Playing with matches: Check
Taking candy or anything else from strangers: Check
Living with a sense of entitlement: Huh? Well, maybe. Uh, probably not.
Let’s face it. Many of us are still relatively fortunate, even with the economy being so poor at the moment. Yeah, sure, we may have had to cut back significantly from our luxury items (road trips instead of cruises, renting movies for free from the library instead of going to the theater every weekend, eating the occasional hot dog instead of the gourmet steak we would prefer on family night), but the reality is that even though most of us are looking more critically at our expenditures, there are people in this country and around the world who would give their right arms to live the lives we complain about with such frequency.
And our kids? Well, with so much less world history and awareness being taught in schools, they don’t have a hope of becoming conscientious, compassionate global citizens without us, their parents, leading by example. My daughter routinely asks, “What are they going to bring me?” when I tell her that this friend or that relative is coming over for a visit. I cringe because I know what “entitled” teenagers are like, and the last thing I want is for her to be one of them, begging for the latest gadget because the one she has is oh so embarrassing to use in front of her peers.
We may wonder if there are any real dangers associated with living with a sense of entitlement. After all, don’t we work like we do to give our kids what they want and need? Yes, we do, but when our kids think that they have the right to any and every thing that they desire (and that visitors must pay a pseudo poll tax as a prerequisite for entering the house), they need us to step in and check that understanding. There are many people who literally have nothing and are much more deserving than any of us, and it is our duty to teach our kids about their roles in service to those less fortunate.
The dangers are real, for do we really want our kids living in a society where everyone is selfish, discourteous, and cold? And for all of the cynics out there, no, the world isn’t like this now, it’s just becoming more and more this way. We must stop, reassess how we live, and what that lifestyle is really teaching our kids.
Here is a short list of ways to ground our kids (and maybe even ourselves):
- Donate: We probably have stuff clogging up closets, basements, and attics that could be used by others. Instead of sifting through this stuff around Christmas time (to ensure this year’s tax write-off) while the kids are with the grandparents for a few days, get the whole family involved at least twice a year to identify clothes, toys, books, and sports equipment that can do some good for someone else. I’ve had a lot of success with my girls (ages 3 and 4), and they seem to embrace the idea of sharing with kids who don’t have any toys or books of their own.
- Feed the Homeless:With the economy being so bad, many people have lost their homes and are forced to turn to shelters for assistance. We can call a shelter asking for days and times when they might be short-staffed and need volunteers. It won’t cost us anything but time, and our kids might be a bit less inclined to refuse left-overs again.
- Volunteer at an Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Home: Our elderly are often forgotten when we think about charitable endeavors, but so many of them have families who rarely (or even never) visit. An hour visit, reading the paper, talking about the old days, playing chess with them, could really make their day. Check with the nursing facilities in your area about appropriate times and volunteer opportunities.
- Participate in a walk-a-thon: Many cities all around the country host walk-a-thons to raise money for this or that charity. Have your kids research some that might mean something to them, and get them involved. If your child is on a sports team, try to get the coach involved for a team-wide effort.
- Start a coin drive: Speak with the officials at your child’s school about raising money for an association that benefits schools in need. We all have loose change in old purses, under couch cushions, or in used water bottles. Have the kids make flyers and posters and collect money as parents drop off their kids in the mornings or pick them up after school.
Remember, it’s our job to create the world in which we want our kids to live and strive. If you can think of other ways to get kids thinking compassionately about others, please share them in the comments section.