Too Much “Entitlement”, How to get your kids to do more

It’s funny how we have been living in families for so many thousands of years, but the modern family is so new that we don’t really understand the dynamics of it.  Our relationships to our partners is new where love as the basis for marriage came around less than 100 years ago.   Our relationships to children is dramatically different, with social influences and online access to information there are many outside influences that we may not agree with.

We are in the age of privilege where entitlement is a common complaint of the upcoming generation.  Kids these days hardly hear the word no, and rarely have to wait to get the toys they want.  It boggles my mind because it seems like we are making the parenting job so much more difficult.

o-TAKE-YOUR-KIDS-TO-WORK-DAY-facebookI agree with child labor laws to prevent us from working our children, but now we also seem to limit their contributions around the house.  As kids help less and less around the house, parents now have to work more to fill in that deficit.  And now that the kids are bored, without a sense of purpose, we have to create positive activities and parents rush around to get their kids to soccer practice on Monday night, Scouts meetings on Tuesday, the Math Tutor on Wednesday, a soccer fundraiser on Thursday, and Joey’s house on Friday night.

Jennifer Senior captured my thoughts exactly in her Ted Talk.  I suggest listening to the excerpt on the TED Radio Hour which interweaves an interview with Jennifer between the TED presentation.  She gets to this point: we have limited our goal of parenting to “Making them Happy.”  Now we all can debate the success of this goal for ourselves, and everyone we know.  But my question is how do we get back to wanting to teach our children “to function as an adult.” I see it in my nephews, and people all around us.  They are not learning to how to make a plan, solve problems themselves, manage finances, challenge advertising claims which may be deceiving.

Well Bruce Feiler’s Ted Talk addresses this issue and proposes a solution.  A way to get your kids to do more that helps out the family, and teaches them responsibility to be successful in life.

Well I might be biased, growing up as the oldest of 5 kids I had the responsibility burden when there were problems in the family.  Some people pity my childhood of cleaning, cooking and laundry for the whole family starting at age 9, but I wouldn’t trade my situation now.  No debt, paid for school, motivated and confident enough to pursue what I think is right for me.  People want to think that they are raising good people, and that is enough.  Well all my siblings are good people because of our family values, so yes that is important.  But one sibling did not get the responsibility role and now struggles to provide for himself and his family.  His work ethic is just a bit different and my parents still support him in various ways.

I think we need to give kids more responsibility, teach them how to get through it, and be supportive as they learn, but continue adding increased responsibility.  We see so many outreach programs for kids that have positive effects, many of them are successful due to the opportunity for responsibility given to young people.  This is the best time for them to learn, we should not rob them of that opportunity.


Everyone needs a little Humanity

A couple of things I have been surrounded with lately have combined into one idea. What everyone is looking for in life, and what seems to bring infinite happiness to people is compassion and understanding.  A human connection that comes from understanding each other and the experience one or both persons are going through.

Today’s local public news station has a story recently of how a little understanding and act of compassion goes a long way in the local jail (the people held here are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime).  We can debate back and forth the worthiness of criminals to receive these types of acts, but given the positive impact for life of the inmates and the guards, and the potential for this to be the first step in getting their lives back on track, isn’t it worth while to make the extra effort?  I would imagine this to be more effective reform of many types of criminals.

Another related story is a discussion on K-12 education in the US where the participants identify the most significant need for education today are people (teachers/counselors) who have the time and ability to connect with the students and be emotionally for those in need of that support.  Some kids just need someone to believe in them.  This can come from family or from someone in the community.  Each participate related a story of success to having that supportive person in their life, and the student who dropped out of school agreed that a lack of support was a major factor to their decision.  Check out the discussion on Education Nation on NBC.  The challenge is to develop our education system with proper incentives for providing this support while maintaining the educational goals, and not overtax our educators.  I suspect the evidence will show that we need more educators and staff in the school system.

“Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it. ”

– Harold S. Hulbert

I think this applies to all people, but especially to children.  We spend so much time each day interacting without significance, especially when living in the city.

Do Something Good for the World – Make Yourself Happy

You know how special things happen with we are feeling good?  Some days we wake up on the right side of the bed, or hear our favorite song on the way to work, something to put us in that Happy Mood.  While in that mood we are kind to other drivers, patient with our friends and loved ones, helpful to those in need, and receptive to the occurrence of additional uplifting events.  It’s almost like our positive mindset makes good things happen to us (but really it’s our positive mindset that allows us to recognize and appreciate the good things).  And then while in that happy mood we are more likely to pay it forward spreading cheer all around.  Have you seen the Liberty Mutual commercials where someone watches a stranger perform a good dead, then they perform a good dead for someone else?

So why not do the world a favor by doing something nice for ourselves each day?  Similar to the 29 Gifts idea, but doing a little something for ourselves to start the chain reaction (as long as it does not cause harm to others).

Unfortunately, negativity is more infectious than positivity.  Even more reason to keep ourselves in a happy mood.  If we are unhappy then we are even more likely to pass it on, or rather others are more likely to have their mood soured as a reaction to our negativity, so take care of yourself and contribute a positive impact to the world around you.  You know what is even more infectious than negativity?  Laughter, I love to tell little jokes or anecdotes to strangers, like the grocery cashier, to break up their day of hundreds of empty conversations with all the customers they serve.

Related Reading Material

Know a Spunky Kid who wants to make a difference?

This website called Random Kid was created by an inspired kid.  In a nutshell, Random Kid is a program to help kids achieve their wildest dreams.  You know how kids can completely think outside of the box and come up with a seemingly simple solution to a problem?   And how most adults will think that solution is not realistic or feasible, so the great idea disappears back to where it came from, unrealized?  Random Kid provides the support for these great ideas.

A Speech by Ralph Nader, his proposal for Utopia

I have never followed Ralph Nader, his career, his publications, or his speeches.  But tonight I decided to attend a talk by him titled “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us,” the title of his latest book.

Well my first reaction to his speech was the solution to his proposed Utopia was more focused on how the general public can achieve change and not how Super-Rich can participate in achieving this Utopia.  I wonder where the proceeds of this book are going.

In response to Mr. Nader’s wish for a changed US society I say:

  • You can’t have change until you agree on the desired outcome (the goal.)
  • To agree on a goal, we must be discussing the problem(s).
  • With decreasing education, because of funding and lack of education by parents, we are less prepared for the discussion.
  • So to achieve any change, I believe we need to focus on education, in school and at home.  (Okay so I already thought this before going to the talk.)

What to teach our children:

Job No. 1 as parents is to recognize and encourage the strengths in each child.  I think it’s essential for children to develop confidence and a sense of accomplishment in something, by encouraging them in their strength they can develop a secure sense of self.  Job No. 2 is to provide opportunity for development of other necessary skills that may not come as easily to each individual.  Many of these skills must be learned at an early age to have a real impact, even before the typical school age of 5.

  • How to Listen
  • Communication skills
  • Respect for others
  • Hard Work results in accomplishments
  • How to Plan Ahead/Prepare
  • Anger Control
  • How to deal with Consequences for our actions
  • To have Pride in doing good work
  • The difference between Love and Lust
  • How to Contribute to our community
  • How to Evaluate information sources
  • How to Adapt to unexpected change
  • How to Fight for what is right, and stand up against wrong doing

I think parents who try to protect their children from consequences and who want to give kids a “childhood” are completely missing the point of raising a child.  Not that all fun should be eliminated, but the priority should be on preparing kids for the future to deal with life.  It will certainly help future roommates and significant others tremendously.

When were “The Good Ole Days”

I recently watched a movie The Gangs of New York, which depicts life in New York City in the 1860’s.  I don’t remember my education in history covering the life and violence of the conflicting gangs in the Five Points district of the city.  As much as people may complain about the difficulties of life today, and the loss of values and respect for fellow mankind, it certainly does not compare the suffering people endured back then.

And what followed this time period?  The gold rush and the experiences in the wild west.  The turn of the century and prohibition.  The 1920’s sound like they were nice.  The Great Depression.  The Woman’s rights movement.  The Civil Rights movement.  Two world wars, the atom bomb, Chernobyl, Vietnam, the Cold War… I suppose the 1990’s were nice again for people living in the US.

So what historical time period do we idolize and compare our current situation to?  I suppose we are remembering the prosperous condition of any past group of people under any time period.  As if those worry free and stable situations of these particular groups of people were far-reaching, long-lasting, and never to be found again.

Or maybe in remembering The Good Ole Days is a heartwarming reminisce about anything.  A time when we long for an ideal lifestyle.  Sometime we imagine where everyone contributes what they can for the good of the group, where people work hard to earn their share of resources, where people are not discriminated against for gender, age, sexual orientation, beliefs, or anything other than their actions.   Where basic necessities include good education and health care, a decent wage to earn a living, and quality time with your family.  Can you believe there is a magazine that does just that? The Good Ole Days

I think this happens throughout history, including today.  Unfortunately it’s not universal for all people.