Dear Children: Entitlement

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First, let’s start with the definition from Google. Entitlement: “The fact of having a right to something.”

The FACT of having a right to something.

Oftentimes, we confuse opinion with fact.

There are going to be moments in your life, Dear Children, when you are going to feel entitled to have something. And that is okay. That is human. To feel like we are sometimes owed something, even if we are not. I, myself, struggle with this all of the time. You, yourselves, struggle with this. Remember when we go to the movies and the feeling you get when I sometimes refuse to visit the concession stand? That is the feeling I speak of. Or when your teacher decides that there will be a pop quiz and you feel that you should have been allotted more time? That, too, is an example of what I write of today.

I often feel entitled to a cookie after vacuuming the house. That cookie is my reward. I earned it. I singlehandedly fought the floor for its hold on dandruff, dirt, crumbs, and flakes. And I won. I schooled that carpet. It owed me.

But do you see how ridiculous that sounds?

I mean does a carpet really owe me anything? Or do I owe the carpet a right to be clean? Or dirty, if it wills. Is the carpet entitled to be as dirty as it would like to be? Is the vacuum entitled to refuse to clean it?

And so you see, children, how very, very tricky the word “entitlement” can be.

Now, imagine we are not talking about one human being and two inanimate objects, but rather three human beings instead. Can you imagine what the world would be like?

I imagine it would be a constant shriek and rumble of these three sentences:

“It’s mine!”

“I earned it!”

“I got it first!”

I recently went somewhere and I was appalled by the behavior of persons that would call themselves adults. And I was appalled by my own behavior. Because I sat there for a time and agreed with those people.

Yes, you are right. We do deserve this. I found myself nodding in agreement. I was entitled to be mad. I was entitled to feel that somebody owed me. I became a wretched human being. I heard, This is what we were promised.

And Everyone knows you can’t break a promise.

I went into the situation feeling very entitled. And I left feeling disgusted. And confused.

Because didn’t I have a right to feel this way? Wasn’t I entitled to it?

I decided to break it down to avoid confusion. For both myself and for you.

Here is what you are entitled to:

A lawyer if you are arrested (and an inconsolable mother if that is the case).

An opinion. As long as you recognize it is not a fact.

An item if you purchased it.

The air you breathe if the Earth allows it.

Your feelings.

A refund if it states so on the receipt.

Your Constitutional Rights as provided and dictated by the law.

To be compensated for the work that you do. Except for volunteer work.

To make your own decisions when you turn eighteen.

Your body.

That about sums it up.

Doesn’t it seem like there should be so much more?

Unfortunately, there is not.

And that is what leads to the chaos that is that word.

Because everyone thinks they have more rights than they do. They are entitled to more.

The world is full of entitled people. Who are raising entitled children. Who will grow up to be entitled adults. Each of them, kings and queens of their domains. Each of them entitling each other to be the best. Have the best. Fight for the best. Because it’s their right.

Who am I to think any differently?

Shouldn’t my needs come before his/hers?

Because I earned it. I got here first. It’s mine!

And around we all go on this ferris wheel of words. The unfortunate repeats of the “I’s” and the “M’s.”

Until the whole world explodes with the Me’s. The Mine’s. The I’s.

It is not a coincidence you can find all three of those words in the word, “entitlement,” itself.

It is corrupted.

Corruptible.

Corrupting.

Other words that can be found in “entitlement”:

Lie

Need

Intent

Mitten

Just wanted to see if you were paying attention with that last one.

I will have many more opportunities to redeem myself with that tricky word. And more probabilities of failure. And you will, too.

It seems as though us humans are wired to feel this way.

Much like the vacuum cleaner that was wired to clean the floor.

I will try harder in the future to fight my programming.

Too often when I feel I have the right to something, it turns out that I am entirely wrong.

Even the word “entitled” feels entitled.

Entitled often insists it is the twin of Deserved.

It is up to you to be able to spot the differences. They do, too often, get confused with each other. I will give you a few clues.

Deserved is the one without an “I” in it. And it is usually standing next to Earned.

Standing next to.

Not hiding behind.

May you make the right choice and not demand the choice as your right.

Love,

Mommy

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* My children read my blog. Which is sweet. Very sweet. But I also want to know that they are learning something from me besides simple recipes and pretty clothing. These letters are real letters to my children. From their mother. You might not agree with my message, but please respect my sentiment.

20 thoughts on “Dear Children: Entitlement

  1. THIS is so awesome. It makes me want to fly to California just so I can high-five you. Okay, and tickle you, too. 😉
    THIS just sums up everything Victor and I have talked about, but never managed to put into words, when it comes to entitlement. I sometimes wonder if it doesn’t spring from the “reward system” some of us are raised with? As in, do your chores and get your pocket money. Or if it springs from parents who are too tired to argue when their children ask for things, and just buy them what they want to shut them up.
    Either way, thank you for such a well-written, well thought-out post!

    • Thanks Gwen. I wrote this for my kids but for myself, too. I tend to get in the mindset sometimes that I am owed certain things. And it is hard to change that. So this was kind of like a diary entry to myself to say, “snap out of it!” I can still be disappointed when things don’t go my way but I need to stop getting so upset when they don’t.

      I hope Brian is okay today!

      Jenni

  2. I also struggle greatly with this issue and have been wrestling with it over the last couple of days. We deserve nothing, have so much, and constantly want more. This has been a human struggle since the beginning of time but I feel our culture has added to the mess. I pray that somehow I will be able to break this cycle and raise my children to be grateful adults. I think I will wrestle with this for many years to come. Thank you for a mind provoking read:)! Have a great day!

    • For some reason it deleted my comment I wrote to you a couple of hours ago. If this is a repeat. I am sorry:

      Thank you. I agree. I struggle every day with this. I struggle with how I am raising my children. I struggle with my own materialism. It doesn’t help when I go around singing that Madonna song all day. ; )

      And every single day. Every single day I feel the want of new things creeping in on me. It is so hard to resist. And often I lose the battle.

      Thank you for sharing. I hope your weekend is lovely.

      Jenni

  3. I do not even begin to understand how you are able to put such a difficult subject into such a well written, powerful post at such a young age. Not even in your forties yet. I wish I knew how to make this post go viral. You go girl. And I second Gwen’s motion. If she gets to fly to California to hug and tickle you I get to come too.

    • Ha! Thanks Brynne. I have always been an adult soul. But then I can be pretty immature too. I think growing up in the middle of nowhere, you really get an opportunity to know exactly who you are. There are no distractions!

      I loves hugs. And tickles! Sounds fun!

      I hope your weekend is magical!

      Jenni

  4. Excellent post. I have been struggling with some of this mentality. My 16 yr old niece constantly posts about “whatever makes me happy” and I just cringe. I absolutely want her to be happy, but the “whatever it takes” part I struggle with. The entitlement. The “I” over anyone else, regardless of the consequence. It is touchy subject. I hope and pray I may raise my kids to value to people around them and to make good decisions. Great post. Thanks!

    • Thank you Alicia. I have been seeing it more and more lately too. I wonder why that is. It could be because everything is so accessible now. And there is just so much to want and so many ways to compete with others. I definitely do not have the answers. Because I do it too. It is a hard mindset to break. And then couple in raising kids and trying to get their minds to wrap around a concept that I myself do not practice perfectly. Well, it is hard. We can only do our best. And then be content with that.

      But it is hard.

      Cuddle up with your beautiful kiddos and have a terrific warm weekend!

      Jenni

  5. This is a great topic. We decided years ago that our children would be taught/trained to think of others first. The words “that’s not fair,” are not allowed in our home, because it means you are only thinking about yourself and not others. This is not true in every case, of course. I think what has really helped our kids learn this lesson was a fight over origami paper. One child said to the other, “that’s mine!” I reminded the child it was not there’s, but mine because I bought and paid for the paper and I was just letting them borrow it. There was no further disagreement. ; )

    • Thank you Jenn. I so agree with you. And being a parent is so hard. It is hard to know what morals are going to stick and which ones will not do any good. Plus, I am always trying to improve my own soul. And struggle with those issues, so that confounds things.

      Our family loves origami. We have done it a few times together and have always had fun.

      Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend

      Jenni

      • I appreciate you writing about this. Today’s children grow up without morals. We have been pretty strict with ours about what is wrong and right. I would rather they learn good values and become good Christian adults versus eat vegetables. We just decided to prioritize and I’m fine with it. I do have them try veggies, of course. But I don’t punish for not eating them, but for being disrespectful, lying, etc. because veggies aren’t vital to their moral character.

      • Thank you Jenn. Being a parent is just hard. I try every day to do a good job. I just love them. It is all we can do. Love and hope and teach what we feel is important.

        Thank you for commenting and sharing. Have a marvelous Monday!

        Jenni

  6. What an amazing post. I can’t add anything to this except that it is a fine balance to teach someone to be confident and strong but not entitled.

    (ha. mitten.)

    • Thanks Liana. I am hoping it wasn’t preachy. I really wrote it as a diary entry to my kids and myself on a night this week I was disappointed in my own behavior. But I decided to share it. My son liked it. My daughter has been sick so she hasn’t read it yet. Thank you for commenting! : ). I appreciate it. I was nervous about it.

      Have a super Saturday… And Sunday!

      Jenni

    • I`m with Sarah, I often find myself thinking “damn this week was hard, I really deserve {x}”, whether it’s an entire pint of ice cream or a cookie or a some shopping. 🙂 I believe it’s fine to want things, but it’s not cool to think you actually *deserve* them! Tough to remember though.

      • Thank you Rachel! I am right there with you. I always deserve a reward. And then another. And another. I am always trying to climb up a slippery slope. I need to remind myself to be content. But it is hard.

        Thank you for commenting! I hope your week is rad!

        Jenni

    • Thank you Sarah! Tonight it was my husband’s birthday cake! And of course, I ate it. It was not even good and I ate it! But, yes,
      I have to remind myself daily about what I “deserve.” It is definitely not always what I think. Unfortunately. ; ).

      Thank you for commenting! Have a beautiful week!

      Jenni

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