04 May 2011

Embarrassment of plenty

I have been struggling with the kids' attitudes recently.  I don't want to wear those clothes, must get changed again, don't want to go to school, don't want to do this or that, this apple has a blemish so I will need another one ....  a disturbing sense of entitlement has settled over them despite my best efforts to raise them without a sense of entitlement.

Cath has posted a thought-provoking post about toys.  It echoes my frustration with a society that has provided my kids with too much of everything and left them sitting in a pile of plenty with nothing to console their little selves but a constant sense of dissatisfaction.  It is very hard work - VERY hard work - to work in their little souls against the power of having so many clothes and so much leisure and it leaves me defeated and deflated.

I had a little victory recently by removing all my daughter's clothes from her shelves except for a few little outfits. Now when I hear, "But I don't LIKE this one," I can quite honestly say, "Well there's nothing else in the shelves, and it's not going to be good if you go around naked ..."  I have noticed a higher level of satisfaction with the clothes she wears now, and the constant outfit changes are all but gone.

Do you struggle with this?  What are we as parents going to do to raise our kiddliwinks into responsible adults?


Tracy P. said...

YES! The attitude of entitlement is Public Enemy #1 at our house.

You have the problem well-identified, and I think that is half the solution. Part of it will disappear because they will mature enough to realize what really is and isn't valuable to them. Like, "You know that _____ you so wanted for Christmas and you got it and played with it twice?" It really has started to sink in for my kids. Still plenty far to go.

Your intentionality is the key. Your kids will be responsible adults, because your goal isn't to make them happy.

I loved this quote from Cath's post: " I wish workers in China would stop being asked to slave over useless bits of plastic that end up as landfill after two play sessions." Good stuff.

Justamum said...

I completely agree with you about the sense of entitlement this new generation has despite our best efforts to fight it. As well as the endless lectures to grandparents to persuade them not to buy them so much stuff!

But more importantly your idea with the clothes is so smart! I too have battled this same problem but never thought of taking them away!!

Your parenting is so clever! I wish that i could be half as smart as you when dealing with my kids!

Cath said...

That's just it, isn't it - you've hit the nail on the head. It's a sense of entitlement. Probably fed by the fact that they actually have been fairly well entitled all their lives and don't know how life is otherwise.

I liked your line: ..."a society that has provided my kids with too much of everything and left them sitting in a pile of plenty with nothing to console their little selves but a constant sense of dissatisfaction." So well said, Miss Givinya.

I think your idea of removing clothes is fantastic, too - a very practical step. I think Tracey's comment is also helpful - that our goal is not to make them happy. That's an important one to remember, when it feels like to love them best is to give them everything they want.

Thanks for a jolly good post.

Swift Jan said...

Oh you put it SOOOO well!!

I have often thought moving to a third world country for a time would do my kids a world of good. They truly have no idea how good they have it!

BTW I think I will steal your removing clothes idea!!

Crazy Sister said...

This is one of my pet peeves, too. Also crying over things like dented toys.

"There are other little kids in the world right now who probably had their MUMS SHOT today - they wouldn't believe that you're crying over a toy!" I say to them.

I like to give them perspective. Hey, you have an excellent Mum - what more could you want?

tinsenpup said...

Having too much was a big problem for us. A couple of years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff in our home. We have given away at least three quarters of Ni's things. And I'm still filling boxes with things to bless others. We're all a lot happier.