Have you ever heard the term “Entitlement”?  It’s a term that has been tossed around often recently to describe upcoming generations.  According to Webster, it means “belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges”.  Let’s explore that for a moment, and I would like to argue that entitlement is learned, and not something children are born to understand.  Having certain privileges is generally earned, by hard work and time.  For instance, we earn the privilege to drive by taking tests and practicing.  If we work hard, we are generally rewarded with respect and an understanding that we have knowledge in our given area of expertise.  Our constitution says we have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, but it doesn’t say that we are entitled to get it without working for it.

I must say that I struggle with parenting today.  I grew up with the idea that I had to work for things I wanted.  May parents provided what I needed like food, clothing and shelter, as I have done for my kids.  When it comes to other things, I expect something in return, like a clean room and good grades.  I have worked with many families in the past that taught their kids, through actions not words, that they just got stuff.  For one family, if the child got something and broke it, they would get another one.  I’m not sure what they were trying to teach with this behavior, but when I saw them the child had little respect for the parents and was now getting in

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trouble at school.  He didn’t like having to put any effort into anything, from school work to helping around the house, because there were no real consequences for his actions.  We went to work, and it was very difficult for a long time, not only for the child, but for the parents.  They had to change what they were teaching, and deal with the aftermath and bad behavior.

As adults, who struggle with entitlement, people believe that they should graduate from college and get high paying jobs, with little responsibility and even less experience.  They want to buy everything their parents have in the first year.  I don’t know about you, but it took years to even begin to get what my parents have.  I have talked with adults who don’t want to take a job that pays less, because they “deserve better”.  Bills don’t care about what you think you deserve.  They need to be paid.   Sometimes to do that, you must be humbled, and do what you must to get by.  No job should be beneath you if it pays the bills and keeps you housed and fed.  If you are a parent, working for a living provides the best role model for your kids.  It helps teach them that it takes hard work to be successful.  Some of the best people I know worked hard for what they have, and it was never about labels and showing off.  It was a drive to be successful in a way that worked for them.

No one is entitled to be successful, without the hard work it takes to make it happen.  Put your kids to work, doing appropriate chores around the house.  Don’t replace broken things with new one.  Let kids (old or young) manage the consequences of their actions.  It helps build character, and can help teach kids to feel empowered, not entitled.  Feeling entitled can create long standing issues, that can have a negative effect on the future.

Being happy is not about expecting other people to cater to our whims.  It’s not assuming that someone will take care of things, because we don’t want to do it.  It’s about enjoying what we have worked for, and taking control by doing what needs to be done.  This, my friends, is about being happy for life.