In her book, The Price Of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids, Madeline Levine highlights a generation of kids who have “teachers, coaches, and, most of all parents who have actively poured enormous amounts of attention and resources” into them. But, “Paradoxically, the more they pour, the less full many (teens) seem to be.” This seems to be the challenge with entitlement.
Entitlement is the feeling that the world owes me something. It is characterized by expectations to get without having to give, and by taking things for granted. While many adults complain about entitled teenagers, it is an inter generational problem. This is evidenced by the United States economic situation. Entitlement issues lead us and our kids to feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, and ungrateful. It also leaves us internally weak and ill-equipped to handle life’s challenges and responsibilities.
I grew up entitled. When real life with its heartbreaks and pressures hit me, I wanted to run for the hills. I discovered that I was internally weak, woefully lacking in compassion, empathy and respect for other people and therefore distant and disconnected in my relationships. To battle my entitlement issues, I had to learn and continue to have to learn how to care and feel empathy for others.
Jesus addresses entitlement and its causes and solutions in many places. Matthew 21:33-45, is one such parable. I call it, “A Parable For The Entitle Soul”. He teaches what lurks in the heart of entitled people. He also teaches that we have to embrace “the stone the builders rejected.” We have to hold onto Jesus’ way of compassion, empathy, and living for others.
Ask the following questions to identify the grip entitlement may have on you and your family:
- Do I feel that the world owes me something? Do I blame when things do not go my way?
- Am I a grateful person that expresses appreciation for others regularly?
- Do I have people that I admire and respect? Do I lift up and express admiration for other people to my kids?
- Am I raising entitled kids? Do all of the activities I have them involved in revolve around them and their development?
- Am I building a family culture where I expect my kids to perform academically and in extracurricular activities, but fail to provide opportunity for them to let down, be weak, be real and honest?
- What am I involving my kids in that teaches them the value of compassion, empathy, respect for others, and self-sacrifice?
- Am I teaching my kids how to build friendships with people who are different than themselves?
The good news is that we do not have pass down an empty way of life and raise kids with entitlement issues. But rather, we can raise a generation of kids who know the value of care, compassion, empathy, and sacrifice.
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18-19