Having Kids that Aren’t Entitled Begins with You

How do we raise our children to be grateful in a society that seems to lean more and more towards an entitled sense of self?  Y’all, this one is hard! I would like to say I navigated through the sea of parental issues with a full sail, perfect weather, and expert navigation, but who are we kidding? Parenting is like steering a tugboat through a hurricane – hanging on through the rough winds at best and at worst, contemplating evacuation because we see a direct hit coming.  

I spent this past weekend at a Disney Resort that included a trip to Epcot. I saw some amused grandparents, some haggard parents, and some overtired children. I heard laughter, shouting, giggles, crying, and a lot of screaming. I watched parents talk, ignore, reason, and yell at their children. This is the “most magical place on earth,” but I didn’t really witness a lot of magic.  Please do not misunderstand my observations as judgment. I wouldn’t dare to presume what may have been going on in each family or with each child. I just remember thinking while one child screamed out in pain after falling off a rail onto the concrete floor, “there’s not much magic here today.”

We want our children to live their best lives and sometimes by doing so we forget that life isn’t always rosy and full of getting what we want. Sometimes we fail, we are told (dare I say it) “NO.”  We don’t always get into the college of our dreams or get that perfect job. And ya know what, sometimes we can’t get an ice cream while in the middle of a 47-minute queue to ride a boat through “Mexico.” I am going to burst a few bubbles here, but we and our children are not the center of all the world. Life does not just move to the side so Johnny and Sally can go first.  Sorry to break that to you if it is new information.

I decided to look up a little information on the word entitlement. Once I read this little tidbit, I was immediately prayerful, “Lord, please strip me of any bit of entitlement that sneaks around inside of me. And pull it from every fiber of my children.” The entitlement mentality is defined as a sense of deservingness or being owed a favor when little to nothing has been done to deserve such special treatment. It is the “you owe me” attitude.  

Now, as if that were not enough to grab your attention. Let’s try this on for size. Who wants to take a guess as to when and who birthed the spirit of entitlement? I am going to give you a second to ponder . . . time’s up!


Yes, that’s right, when Satan believed he deserved praise. I will not go into the details of this exchange because we all know the story and the consequences.

Separation from Jesus!!!

I’ve been asking myself the question that began this article over and over. The simplest answer I can see is this:  Show them Jesus. Let your children see you walking the way Jesus would, talking the way Jesus would, putting others first the way Jesus would, loving people the way Jesus would. I could list a thousand examples of ways to combat the mindset of entitlement, but at the end of the day most would be my opinion. So, I will refrain from making a list. I will, however, leave you with this: Your children not only watch you, but they learn who they are from you.  If you do not want to foster an entitled spirit in your child, do not create it.  Remember we are raising up adults not children. We want our adult children to be positive, humble, truth speaking, members of society. If that is how we want our adult children to live and be seen by others, we have to train them in that way.  

I encourage you to take a few minutes and truthfully evaluate yourself. Ask God to show you the areas in your life that the spirit of entitlement may have crept in. When it is revealed, ask Him to dig it out. “Create in me a clean heart, oh Lord.”  Let’s take it a step further, “Make my heart clean Lord, so that I can teach the next generation to have a clean heart.”

Written by: Betty Ann NeSmith. Betty Ann lives in Boston, GA with her husband, Payton.