We want to raise kids to be independent, loving, and positive contributors to society. Lately I’ve seen a few seeds of entitlement in my children. They’re really simple at this point: a granola bar wrapper tossed haphazardly on the floor, or the refusal to accept that I won’t play this very second.
*This post was updated June 2019.
Before I had children, I was positive that I wouldn’t raise entitled kids. Now I’m realizing that some of the areas where I consider myself a good mom could lead to entitlement. Sometimes our authority as mothers becomes compromised.
Entitlement- Even When You’re A Good Mom
Good moms play with their kids.
We want our kids to feel loved, so we play with them as much as we can. After all, we hear that parents often miss playing with their kids as they get older.
But, kids also need to learn how to play independently.
Playing with children ALL THE TIME doesn’t allow them to develop important independent play skills. When we scrap other responsibilities to always play with our kids, they learn that they are the only thing that matters. The world revolves around them.
In Home Education, Charlotte Mason said:
“The part of mother or teacher in the early years (indeed, all through life) is to sow opportunities, and then to keep in the background, ready with a guiding or restraining hand only when these are badly wanted. Mothers shirk their work and put it, as they would say, into better hands than their own, because they do not recognize that wise letting alone is the chief thing asked of them….” Charlotte Mason
This is the concept of masterly inactivity, which Charlotte Mason recommended in both parenting and education.
Good moms want a peaceful home atmosphere.
The home atmosphere is one of the three tools of education that Charlotte Mason said we can rightfully use. It is not something we do, but a result of the values we hold (I wrote Moms, We Are the Home Atmosphere to explain this.) We try to let love abound, stop arguments that arise, clean up, and guide our kids in learning and maturity.
But, we can’t sweep everything under the proverbial rug in the name of peace.
Constantly cleaning up for our children and solving their problems for the sake of the home atmosphere doesn’t allow them to learn these important skills. They need to learn how to work on chores, solve problems, persevere at lessons, etc.
Good moms let their children make choices.
We know that allowing children to make choices helps them develop important decision making skills, and gives them a sense of empowerment. Also, it is a necessary part of Charlotte Mason’s first principle: children are born persons.
But, we shouldn’t shelter them from the consequences.
If we let children make choices, we have to be okay with the fact that their choices might have negative consequences. You’ve most likely heard of a helicopter parent, but teachers often talk about lawn-mower parents, who come in and make sure everything is safe and there are no obstacles in a child’s way. They want to remove any possibly negative consequences that their child might run into.
When we let children make choices, but shelter them from the natural consequences, they don’t learn responsibility for their actions. Instead, they learn that when they make poor decisions, mom will save them from whatever is coming their way.
If Miss H doesn’t eat her dinner, then she can’t have a snack before bed. This is something we learned the hard way. She wouldn’t eat her dinner, and then, inevitably right after we brushed her teeth, she’d ask for more food. We eventually realized that we allowed her to choose not to eat her dinner, but then sheltered her from the consequence of being hungry.
Obviously, we need to protect our children from extreme danger that could affect their physical and mental health. But if they’re somewhat uncomfortable when they choose not to wear shoes or eat their meal? That’s a learning opportunity.
Good moms meet their children’s needs right away.
We learn as soon as we become parents that we need to meet our children’s needs for their emotional health. We rush to them when they cry, change their diapers, feed them on schedule, and take care of a plethora of other needs.
But, wants and needs are different.
For me, wants and needs started to blur together. I was so focused on meeting my children’s needs that I started answering their every request immediately. Wants DON’T need to be met immediately, and doing this routinely creates an entitled “I deserve it” attitude.
Good moms want their children to treat others politely.
We give gentle prompts like, “What do you say?” and “How can you ask nicely?” to get them into the habit of politeness.
But, kids should treat their moms politely, too.
While I try to get my children to use good manners, I sacrifice my personal need for niceties. When I’m not consistent with having my children use their best manners, I notice that it creeps into their treatment of others, as well.
How do you protect your children from developing entitled attitudes?