Tuesday, 3 June 2014


You weren't expecting this one.

An awful lot is said about young people with entitlement issues, and I don't need to go into what that means, you've all seen it, heard it, been there, and done that.

Well, I blame the generation that raised them. My generation. And I'm going to say "we", even though I don't think I'm guilty. I'll explain.

Entitlement isn't just something young people suffer from. I see it in every parent or older person who expects automatic respect just for age, relationship, or position.

Respect is NOT automatic. It has to be earned. You don't demand it, you win it. And, if you insist on getting respect from younger people that you don't deserve, you have just sent the powerful message that they can do exactly the same thing.

Monkey see, monkey do.

We were born in a very, very different world. We never had it so good. When we left school, provided we hadn't goofed off too much we were pretty much guaranteed a job, without any further qualifications, and those who went on to further education knew they'd get work in the field studied.

It wasn't terribly difficult for young people to own their own home within a few years of marriage, sometimes right away. A good second-hand car could be obtained cheaply, and fuelling it was never really given a second thought. We went for drives on Sunday afternoons for something to do.

When we had children, with a bit of economizing it was not a huge deal to live on one income, even if we went short. It was things we could do without.

Before you object to being an exception, so was I. Not all of these apply to me either, but that was the general situation in the 1960s and 1970s. Life was very easy.

It isn't like that now. Graduates are flipping burgers and many young families would starve on one income, due to the cost of housing where the jobs are. I can even point you to articles of military familes in the US on food stamps, but you have all seen it. You know how it is.

Who is to blame for the way things are messed up now? Well, it's not those who weren't born when the damage was done, that's for sure.

And it's easy to blame the ultra rich and powerful (and I do) but the fact remains it is OUR generation that spoiled everything for our kids. WE DID IT. No, I didn't, and you didn't, that's not the point. We did.

So. This generation looks around at how things have changed, and the fine taradiddle they find themselves in, and they say "we deserve more" and they do.

Because everyone deserves a chance.

At the same time, nobody actually deserves anything.

When you are born, there are no guarantees, no certainties. The "gift" of life comes without a warranty, and there is nobody to blame. Except.....why, the folk who chose to bring you into this world.

And some young people, absent any better philosophy in their upbringing, will decide to blame their parents FOR EVERYTHING. I'm sure you've heard some of them do it.

Furthermore, they see the entire older generation as an extension of that. They feel abandoned.

But it's not hopeless. Parents who give the right messages, who earn respect, are able to teach a different attitude. Sometimes good mentors in our generation can help young people recover from the twisted thinking that arises from bad parenting, but that's harder. With kids prevention is better than cure.

You see, it's all very well saying "Tsk, kids today" but WE caused that. If a kid is mouthy to his parents, they raised him. If he's lazy, they raised him. If he's a moocher, they raised him. If he tells lies and breaks the law, they raised him. If he's damaged, they damaged him.

Every negative characteristic that MY kids display is entirely MY fault. No excuses, no wiggle room.

Why do I say that? Because people are quick enough to congratulate themselves (or others) when their kid does something good. Oh, they are so proud when he graduates with honours, so humble when she is valedictorian. And rightly so.

But they are strangely quiet when he's caught stealing a car. Or it's society and TV. Or who he mixes with. Blame anyone, never look inward.

And who enables this? We all support one another. Oh don't blame yourself, we tell our friends. You've done your best.

Clearly not. You may be forgiven for being a less than perfect parent, your family and friends won't love you any less, you erred and to err is human. But you did err.

I take full responsibility - 100% - for every bad thing my kids have done. Every time they screw up, I try to figure out what lesson I missed, what example I gave badly. We teach by example. "Don't do as I do, do as I say" teaches something too, it teaches hypocrisy. A form of dishonesty.

Nobody gets it right all the time, so we have a great opportunity when we don't, to teach the art of apology and acknowledgement of guilt. Every time we say "Sorry, I shouldn't have said/done that" we teach an incredibly valuable lesson.

But some of this stuff is subtle. We teach gratitude for life itself in how we act and what we say. We teach all our core values by living them, not just by preaching them.

And you'd better believe that if we feel entitled, then we teach that. LOUDLY.

To sum up, if your kid is a brat, you can thank yourself. And, as a generation, as a society, we can thank ourselves for today's young people. And hope it's not too late to fix it. THEY will be raising our grandchildren.


  1. *jumps up and down* YES! YES! A thousand times YES!

    I never ever understood entitlement. People tried to explain it to me and I could not wrap my little pea brain around it. It wasn't until my kids were older that I saw the true horror of it. And I don't think that's too strong a word.

    Horror. Stupidity. Gall.

    Thankfully that is one area my kids were not raised with. They totally know there are no guarantees.

  2. I'm guilty. Two of my children I brought in to the world thinking they would graduate from high school and get jobs and go to college and live the "american dream". My oldest son already found getting a job here is difficult unless you have experience. Even Walmart wants workers with prior retail experience. College is out of the question due to the outrageous cost. (My first semester I took 21 hours and it cost me about $600 if my son went to the same college the first semester would cost him about $3500 if he took 12 hours). So my kids have a lot of frustration about the world and they are still teens.

  3. we can also extrapolate this out a bit. Tim and I discuss it often enough. My generation, and yes I'm just about young enough to fit into the next one, we were latch key kids. Our parents were out making the American Dream happen. We were self sufficient if a bit lonely. We are the first who will not do as well as our parents, partly because 60 is the new 40. Nobody is retiring because nobody saved for it, they are hanging out in the job market because they never planned for a future that is here now. Blew the money as fast as they made it and were the ultimate "me" generation. My generation turns around and tries to "right the wrongs" of the previous and winds up making a bunch of needy, entitled kids because we swung the pendulum in the other direction, over protect them at every turn, hand out trophies just for showing up, because our parents were too busy being "successful" and just weren't there. We don't want our kids to feel the pain of having no one show up to any of our things, but then we go overboard the other direction. *sigh*

  4. Maybe I come jaded with the notion that it is us AND it is more than us behind entitlement. We all share in the idea that 'something is owed' because we all have something that makes us special. We all share in the same spirit of being that brings us life, sentiency, and the need/desire to find common ground. What we do NOT have is the same economic advantage that would help ensure that life goes on with some sense of balance and regularity.

    We have to face the fact that, if left to our own natural devices, we each flirt a little with death every day. Some of us are better able to deal with that--we have the skills and cunning to survive. --And we recognize that others among us do not and (if we are ethical) ought not to suffer because we feel it is our duty to help, even if by extension. When there is such disparity and not enough being done to address it, our 'common sense' does kick in. We may not necessarily like the way it looks, as we burn the candle at both ends, but we do what is needed.

    It can feel a little magical at times, and I'd like to add that it is even beyond blame because it is what it is. Not meaning to sound idealistic, but we are at a particular crossroads and have been for the past few years. You are fortunate to speak from the vantage point of being a grandparent. I appreciate that, generationally, entitlement may not always be seen as something beyond our current times, but it is. Maybe we have set a precedent for spreading it, but entitlement is something established a long time ago. In our consumer state of mind, we do growth rather well. ;) ~ Blessings!

  5. I have maintained, from day one, that I will accept neither complete credit nor total blame for how my children turn out. Some good parents do end up with awful kids, and vice versa. Yes, parents have a big influence. But total? No way.