Monday, March 4, 2013

Enabling Parents//Entitled Kids

I saw another interesting episode of Steve Harvey's talk show last week that made me shake my head. A mother wrote in to the show because she was sick of her husband spoiling/enabling their daughter. The daughter was 28 and still living at home. The father pays all of her bills and expenses, and he also buys her expensive gifts whenever she asks for them (which is on a regular basis).

I couldn't believe this father OR the daughter. I guess I can't really blame the daughter, though, if she's been spoiled all of her life and hasn't been expected to work. On one hand, it would be nice to have everything you wanted handed to you and to not have to worry about paying your own expenses, but on the other hand, I think there's something to be said for working to provide for yourself. Long story short, the dad ultimately agreed that it was in his daughter's best interest to cut her off financially. He told her that she has one year to move out of the house and get settled on her own. (A year seems like too long of a window to me, but the important thing is that she ultimately gets out on her own in the end.) When the daughter found out that her father would no longer be financially supporting her, she cried. I'm sure it would be difficult after being dependent on her parents for so long, but I hope she'll eventually end up appreciating having to learn to be self-reliant.

I was definitely NOT a spoiled child. My parents provided me with everything I needed, but not much more than that. My parents were middle-class people; my dad worked at an average-paying job and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. We were a large family (nine of us total) and my parents were more interested in having 'kids' than 'things.' Money was pretty tight, and I admit that I always felt rather poor compared to my friends/classmates that grew up in smaller families where both parents worked and there was more money to go around.

Some parents are just more liberal with their money and don't see the harm in buying their kids lots of things. As a kid I was envious of my friends that seemed to have "everything," but now that I'm older and wiser I'm SO glad that I didn't grow up getting everything I desired. I'm grateful that my parents didn't spoil me and that they taught me the value of a dollar and the importance of working for what you want. Even if my mom and dad had had more, it's not like they would've done things much differently. I think it's good for kids to know what it's like to want for things and to have to work for what they get.

As I've learned from the wise Dr. Phil, a lot of times when parents buy things for their kids, they are actually doing it more for themselves than they are for their kids. (I'm not really wording that as well as Dr. Phil does, but hopefully you understand what I mean.) A lot of parents buy their kids things out of their guilt of being "absentee parents." Parents also have a desire to give their children everything they lacked when they were children. I can actually relate to this feeling because when I was in middle school I remember thinking that I should start saving my allowance so that one day I could give my kids all of the things I wanted, but didn't have. I now know better and know that this isn't good for kids. I can't say it enough; kids need to work for what they get!

If I were married, I hope it would be to someone that makes a good living. I'd like to have a nice home and to be able to provide a good life for my kids. There's really a fine line when it comes to deciding what and how much to give your kids. If you give your kids too much without making them work for it, I think you're teaching them to be lazy and possibly instilling a sense of entitlement in them, and then they get accustomed to a certain lifestyle that might be hard for them to maintain when they're out on their own (leading to debt).  If you're blessed with material wealth I think it's tempting to give your kids more than they really need. I totally understand this desire because why wouldn't you want to give your cherished kids the "best of the best?" But you have to look at the big picture and remember that it's not always in your kids' best interest.

These are just my personal feelings. I'm so grateful for parents (especially a mom) who taught me the value of work and how to be grateful for the things that I've been blessed with.


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