The “Entitlement” Generation….What in the world have we done and five ways to fix/prevent it.

In Blackbelt in Business by Chris Berlow46 Comments


Ok, so I know that this blog is supposed to be geared towards developing black belt values in business but I really want to share a frustration that is hitting close to home. As you may may know, I have five children from the ages of 16-22. Yes, you heard it right, five. When they were all in middle school I would joke around that I had more hormones in my house than a middle school. Well, my wife and I have been finding it extremely difficult to parent them and hold them to the values that we feel necessary for them to be successful responsible adults. Isn’t that what we want for all our children?

I was having a candid conversation with my oldest and he shared with me that some of his friends talk down to me and say I’m a horrible parent. His friends said to him something like this…”Your dad makes a good living, has a nice house, owns a business and is successful. He should give you a car. He owes it to you.” Could you believe that! I nearly fell off my seat and told him that I would really love to have a conversation with his friends. Even my son understood how that statement was the epitome of entitlement and is a recipe for a future generation of adults that cannot take care of themselves. I don’t know about you but I think this is extremely scary.

As a parent, I always want the best for my children. I think we all want the best for our children, but at what cost? If we hand them everything they desire, what is going to happen to them in the future. They will continue to expect everything handed to them and then you have a generation of adults dependent on their parents. My wife and I work tirelessly on making our children earn the things that they want.

One year my middle son that was eleven at the time wanted new snowboard equipment in the worst way. He had a perfectly good set up but wanted the latest Shawn White board. He literally went around with my father everyday and collected cans for months on end. He cashed in a total of $500 worth of cans. Every can is 5 cents, 20 cans for every dollar which comes to 10,000 cans. Thankfully for him, my father owned an apartment complex where they drank a lot of beer. I think it got to the point where they were drinking more to give him more cans for his snowboard fund. My son had something he wanted badly and we made him earn it. He took more care of that board than anything else he ever owned. If I recall, he even slept with it. Now, my wife and I could have easily bought him the board, but what kind of message would that send? “You want something and mom and dad will get it for you” or “If you want something, you’ll have to earn it.” Which scenario is going to help this generation become more responsible adults?

entitlement-2By no means I will say that my wife and I are the perfect parents because we are not. Just ask any of my children. What I could tell you is that our kids will not be dependent on us as adults. I have created five short tips you could use to make sure your children are responsible members of society and fights the “Entitlement” mindset.

  1. Give only on special occasions: We all want to give to our children because we want them to have things that we never had as children. That is great and I’m right there with you. However, my wife and I give those “things” on special holidays or birthdays, not often and in moderation. Why, because we as humans are a creature of habit. If children keep getting things for no reason then they will always expect the same. If they get things on special occasions, they will appreciate it much more.
  2. Experiences over things: When our children were young, we invested in a small house in Vermont. We love snowboarding in the winter as well as hiking and biking in the summer and we wanted to share that with our family. Where they may not have received a lot of material goods, they had an abundance of positive memories and experiences. You’ll be amazed on the conversations you could have with your children while in Nature, and they’ll appreciate it too. As teenagers and young adults, most of them have a love and appreciation for the outdoors.
  3. Make them earn it: I think this is crucial. We need to teach a work ethic to this generation and they have to understand that success will not be handed to them but they have to earn it. Just like my son and his snowboard, he learned at a very young age how to work hard, save money and take responsibility for his success. My wife and I continue to do this even when things get hard for them. It teaches them patience, perseverance and appreciation which are all essential to be successful adults. If your child wants something outside of a necessity, make them earn it.
  4. Needs vs. wants: This is a big one that I have to give credit to my wife, she came up with this one. Basically she said that this younger generation has a challenge differentiating needs and wants. They need food, they need to have clothes and they may even need a cell phone. However, they may want a fancy steak dinner, $200 pair of jeans and the latest iPhone. Those wants are different than the needs. Wants need to be earned and needs could be given. Make sense?
  5. Let them fall: Holy cow this is a hard one. Call me mean or whatever you want but if my kids fall, I make them get back up. I will encourage, advise, inspire but I will not give them an easy out. My son learned this lesson while away at college recently. He had a specific budget for food and decided to spend his money on something else. He called me up and said he ran out of money and he was hungry. Now, I wasn’t going to let him starve of course but I worked with him on a solution rather than being the solution. He worked out how he could have sufficient meals that were less than ideal but he wasn’t going to go hungry. As a result of the un-ideal circumstances, he is much wiser and his food budget comes before everything else. If we didn’t let him work it out, the only lesson learned is that he he’ll always have a bail out from Mom and Dad.

There you have it. I know I moved away from the typical Black Belt in Business article but this is an investment in our future. So in a way, it is applying the same values we talk about every article and instilling them in our next generation. I think that if you have raised independent adults, you have made a huge positive contribution to society. If you raise them give them everything they want when they want it, sorry to say but they will be dependent on you for a very long time. Sad but true.

Final thoughts: As stated earlier, my wife and I are certainly not experts and not perfect parents, but we do have some experience. This is a topic that I feel is getting worse as time goes on. I believe that if more of us are aware of the issue, than we will be able to help change the “Entitlement” mindset to an “Attitude of gratitude”.

In the words of my wife Kathy, “We only have one shot at this and I’m not going to take any shortcuts. I’ll always take the right path and not the easy way when it comes to my children.”

Thank you for listening to my rant. If you like what you read, please feel free to share and comment. The more we raise the awareness of this “Entitlement” issue, the faster we could all work to change it.

Read the Second Part of this post:


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All the best,

Chris Berlow

Learn more about Chris Berlow


  1. This may not be Black Belt in business, but it’s Black Belt in life. All of these suggestions are what are expected of Black Belts. We have had to do these things in order to achieve the rank of Black Belt. However this doesn’t just apply to children. I’ve seen way too many adults whose actions say “I’m entitled.” This is an important message to get out there. Thank you for sharing.

    1. In my field, I call this INTENTIONAL PARENTING. I am very lucky my parents modeled this for us and we did the same for our sons. I remember a friend asking me why my sons were so responsible. (they were in high school). I asked her if she really wanted an honest answer or if it was a rhetorical question! She truly wanted to know. So, I pointed out all the chores and responsibilities they had within our family ‘community’ to make it smooth running. The light went off in her head – her children weren’t responsible for anything because they had a pool guy, maid, landscaper, and LOTS of free time to WANT. Someone made their beds, put away their laundry, mowed their yards, cleaned their pools, emptied their dishwasher and set their table. As the saying goes – got to have a dog in the fight! BUT the MOST important part of your list and my approach is, you start this VERY young and INTENTIONALLY teach and coach your children along the way – allowing for pitfalls and logical consequences. Parenting is not without disappointments and challenges. The rewards have been beyond my wildest imagination! I’m truly grateful…….

      1. Author

        Thank you Jill, very well done! Great point as well. If we always have things done for our children, they will always expect the same. Hopefully, more parents will be more aware.

  2. Yes sir. I am the parent of 3 and I am definitely considered the mean parent by many other parents. But it is very important to teach these lessons to our children, Heck even with all of the lessons I give to my children, when they go outside of our home society still poisons them!!!! For instance my children carry their own stuff when we are out and definitely carry their own weight. I was famous for not picking my kids up because they did not feel like walking. Our house my oldest now asks me” how come I do not get allowance because I wash the dishes?” I tell her you do get an allowance for any help you contribute to the house. I ALLOW you to eat here, I ALLOW you to sleep here, I But thank ALLOW you to use the pool and I ALLOW you to live here. 🙂 Thank you for speaking on this subject it needs to be said.

  3. Excellant advice – we used a similar Philosphy and we are extremely proud of the decisions our children have made – both financially and with spouses. You don’t get good kids – it takes good parenting – my wife deserves a lot of the credit.

  4. I did not follow this advice with my youngest daughter. I am paying for it to this day. She will be 32 this year drives a car I gave her, lives in a house rent free, she only has to pay the taxes and insurance on it. I might add it is a 2500 sq. ft. house she shares with only her dog. She has very little to do with me. I gave her all these things while paying for her to get a degree so she would enter the working world with no debt. During this time period my shortest work days were 12 hours. Now that she is out of school working and being even more influenced by people I am not included in her life. Lucky if I get a text on my birthday or Mother’s Day. I know it is no one’s fault but my own. Oh, how I wish I could go back but I can not. I have to accept the ground work only I laid. For ALL parents out there please don’t make the mistakes I did.

    1. Author


      Thank you for your contribution. We cannot beat ourselves over the head on circumstances in the past. As a parent, we all make decisions based on what we feel is the right thing to do. It is complicated by us always wanting things better for our children then we experienced. Perhaps coming up with an agreement with her on becoming a bit more self sufficient and taking over some of the responsibilities may help. My wife and I also wish we could have a redo on many things of the past.

  5. Gosh Chris, I love both you and your wife. I wish that you could go to schools and explain this at PTA meetings.

    A good book to read would be ‘Boundaries for kids by Townsend and Cloud

    1. Author

      Thank you Judelia,

      Honestly, I would love the opportunity to talk to parents on this topic. Very powerful. I appreciate the read, I’ll be checking it out!

      All the best!


  6. Good stuff! I think these principles are as tough for parents to follow at times as they are for kids to receive. Biggest one for me is giving only on special occasions. I think it’s easy to forget the happiness that material things bring us fleeting, reinforces immediate gratification if too easy to get and wastes money/models an inability to save for more important things. I’m saving the article to remind me when I’m weak. Thanks!

    1. Author

      Thank you Margaret,

      All of the action items are easier said then done of course. My wife and I only give on special occasions and even that is with moderation. Someone who I respect very much once time took all the money they planned on spending on Christmas for their children and donated it to give those less fortunate a holiday they would remember forever. The kids were in agreement with it as well. Great lesson learned. If this generation would realize that altruism is one of the greatest ways to live a healthy and meaningful life, they would do extremely well in the future. My martial arts Grandmaster once said, “Give without memory and receive without forget” Wise words to live by. Thank you for your comment!

  7. My son wanted a Playstation years ago. I told him he would have to work for it and he did. His younger brother came running to me one day because his older brother wouldn’t let him use it. I told him that his brother had worked for it and it was up to him to decide if he could play with it.

    My younger son then asked me if he could work to buy his own hand held game machine, which he ended up buying with his earnings.

    Both boys realized the value of working for something and we gave them the authority over their purchases. They ended up sharing their game machines as we knew they would but they chose when to do it, which was part of the empowerment they experienced.

    We also let them make decisions to spend their earned money on items we knew may disappoint them once they received them. We recommended against it but allowed them to make the final decision.

    They experienced loss and frustration at the decisions they made. They became more careful about how they spent their money.

    Although most of the purchases would seem trivial to adults, they were important to the children. They were making real life decisions and experiencing the joys and sorrows from their decisions.

    I’m happy to say that today at 26 and 23 they are establishing credit, saving money, and making responsible choices as young adults.

    1. Author

      Great Job Jamie!!!!

      You did it right! The main goal of parenting I think is to raise responsible members that contribute to the betterment of society and that is exactly what you did!

      Thank you for sharing!

  8. I found this article as the result of a friend’s Facebook post and am so glad I clicked to read. For my own family, this outlines the goals my husband and I work to establish in our household. Even with young children, we already feel the pressure to choose differently from some of our peers. Thank you for the encouragement and solidarity. I have an adjacent concern : as an academic in higher education, I wage the battle against the entitlement generation every day. Sometimes I wonder how to even begin to communicate with someone who is already hamstrung by entitlement thinking. It’s as if I am speaking a foreign language to my students when I expect, assign or express some level of personal responsibility for and from them. Do you have any advice for the retroactive de-programming of entitlement thinking for anyone who has to educate or hire this generation? I would love to read it and to require it for my students.

    1. Author


      Thank you for your response. The pressures we face are real, we just have to hold to our values and not be submissive to the pressures of our environment. Tough to do, I know but in the end, we have to raise our children to be self sufficient responsible adults and sometimes it will require some tough love.

      As far as working with this generation and advice to re-program them, that is a challenge in itself and I will work to share some ideas in my next article. One thing I could think of off hand is set the parameters and expectations and hold them to them regardless. They have to realize that no one is going to do the work for them to be successful. If they want something in life, they have to make it happen themselves. If there are ways to parallel that mentality with the lessons you teach, that may help. I know that the if we try to nurture them and give them the easy way out, it is only a small “feel good bandaid” that is going to negatively effect them in the future. The only way for them to be able to get up themselves is to allow them to fall.

      An example of this is when I teach martial arts. When a student is testing for their next rank they always have a particular board break to perform. When they don’t break it, I smile at them. When they don’t break it a second or third time I get even happier to the point that the student starts questioning why. I say to them that I am happy because now you have to dig down deep to pull something out of you that you didn’t even know you have. I do this with children and adults and it has worked remarkably well. That is one way that I have helped them experience success but making them work for it. If we support them while willing to let them struggle, then we will be helping them long term.

      I hope that helps and answers your question.

  9. This is fantastic advice! When our oldest was 2 or 3, she would have a warning before going to any store that we weren’t getting anything for her. Lots of times we did, until I noticed how we were randomly giving her “stuff all the time”. Once we changed that behavior as parents, we began to see changes in her. When she and my youngest were 8, they earned the invitation to get their ears pierced, but they had to earn it by keeping their rooms clean. It took the oldest a year and a half, and the youngest about the same time. Now that the oldest is 12 and needs a cell phone, we had her save her Christmas money from family to buy a used iPhone that could be hooked up to the pay as you go Tracphone system so she earns air time. I hear both of mine say all the time that I’m a mean parent, but I also get tons of compliments from outsiders that always specifically say how responsible, persistent, and respectful. This is by far the best post I’ve seen in a long time. Thank you!!

    1. Author

      Thank you Lee,

      You did a great job. Like I said, it is difficult because we want the best for our children and we want them to be happy. Nothing is more powerful then when they earn it themselves and boy do they take care of things much better.

      Thank you for sharing

  10. Our daughter wanted an iPod in the worst way many years ago.
    We were mean and also set up a plan to earn it. Took her almost 4 months. I’ll admit, it was hard not to say “I’ll just buy it.” But we didn’t.
    Best choice for both of us.

  11. I know of 3 young adults all 19 years old. They all go to college part time and live at home but still expect their dad to pay for their phones, car insurance and gas for their cars. 2 of them do not work at all. They help very little around the house and even talk as though the money their dad makes is theirs. He is at a loss. What advice could you give him to change this situation. I have told him he is doing more harm than good by always giving to them and not making them work for anything . Please send a reply. Tks

    1. Thank you Kim,

      That is a very tough scenario and I could relate as I have children the same age. My advice would be that he needs to have a sit down with them and have a very important and difficult conversation. He needs to explain the costs of the items and how for them to use/enjoy the privileges they have, they need to contribute. For those not working, they should get a job. If they can’t get a job, they need to do extra responsibilities around the house. One thing for sure is that they need to understand the difference between needs and wants. They may need a place to live, need food to survive and need clothes to wear. On top of that, it is a want. Perhaps the father could show some tough love and give them a window of time to either contribute to the expenses or they will start to lose some of the items of privilege. I guarantee that he does that, they will do whatever it takes to earn them back. I have had to do just that and when I took the car away from my son, it was as if his world collapsed. I held him to it and he did not make the same mistake again. I hope this helps. I will work to elaborate more on this topic on my next post.

      Thank you for your contribution,

  12. Thank you for this article! Great advice! From my part, I do believe that no matter how hard my children work, it’s never enough this day in age. The wage is set, hard work does not always pay off, and there are no guarantees in life that they will earn on their own what they have worked for. As you said above, there is a balance between entitlement and knowing when to step in and help especially with large purchases such a car, home, etc.

    1. Author

      Very True Sara,

      We never know and we have to stand by our decisions we make according to our own values and morals as parents, not by what others are saying or what is seen. As long as they do have some skin in the game and are not reliant on their parents as adults, I think they’ll be in good shape.

  13. This is such great advice! I’m a mother of 5 under 11, and I feel the exact same way. My 11 year old thinks I’m awful because I won’t get him a cell phone even though “everyone else” at his school has one. It is hard not to get them things sometimes. I love getting them things, but I have to consciously make the decision not to So that they won’t grow up feeling entitled. Such a great read. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Author

      Thank you Bethany,

      My wife says all the time, “Well I’m not everyone else’s parent, I am only your parent”. It is not and was not my children’s favorite thing to hear but it is true.

      Teaching them the difference between “Needs & Wants” is one of the most important life lessons that they could learn.

      Thank you for contributing

  14. Great advice. We are also considered the mean parents. My daughters had to give me a solid year of straight “A’s” before they could have their ears pierced. They got jobs when they were 16 (son turns 16 this summer) and pay for all their own expenses, gas, car insurance etc. Oldest daughter wants to study a semester abroad, she has worked to save for this. This summer she is working to pay off part of her college loans. We have saved for college, but my children know that we will only pay a certain amount and the rest is on them. They must earn scholarship money and work. They also must take out the Stafford loans each year. ( We will pay the interest on the unsubsidized amount until they graduate) They must have “Skin in the game”.

    1. Author


      You are a Rock Star Parent! My wife and I are doing the same with their college loans. It’s tough to watch because of the expensive costs of college these days and you don’t want to see them start their life with a lot of debt. Statistically though, children who have skin in the game and attend college have a much more likeliness to graduate then those who parents pay their way.

      Thank you for your contribution!


  15. I hope it will change soon, I hope we will see the error. I have been fighting against it since I had children. No matter how much I work at home to give them value I feel it is undermined at school by friends or worst yet media. I had to get divorced over it as my Ex felt our girls could do no wrong now our 11 year old can’t clean anything. She’s a slob. I bag it up and make her earn it back in chores. I hope she will get the point soon. She calls me the mean mommy who yells all the time. I expressed the fact that I try to talk to her many times yelling comes out of frustration, but I am working on that myself. I hate being angry.

    1. Author

      Hello Serina,

      I am sorry for your challenges that you have faced. There definitely no guide book when it comes to effective parenting. If there was, it would be a huge best seller. I can’t say enough about the concept of “Tough love”. If they are not adhering to your expectations (As long as they are realistic), then they should not get the “Wants” they have in life such as cell phone, computer, i-pad, or whatever it is that they have beyond their clothes, food and shelter. All else above the needs is a true gift that they should be grateful to have.

      One time I took my children on a midnight run where we gave food and clothes to homeless people in NY City. It was very eye opening for my children and they got a glimpse on how luck they are. That may be a good things to do with your children if the opportunity should arise.

      Thank you for sharing, I really appreciate your contribution. Best of luck!!

  16. Totally agree; however, life isn’t always that simple. I am almost 70, and still dealing with the complications inflicted by my over generous in-laws. My husband was their only child, so our three children are their only grandchildren. My mother-in-law ran the show. At 41, the middle one still thinks I’m her personal banker because her grand father conditioned her to have her hand out. She lives alone, and has a number of issues she’s dealing with. I have told her, “this is the last time…” more than once. We are about 9 hrs (by car) away from all of them.

    1. Author

      Hello Mary,

      I agree, Life really isn’t that simple. Although it parenting could be a little bit simpler if you are able to stand by what you say. I am the first one to know how difficult that is, that is why I am extremely careful with my words. If I say that it is the last chance, my children know that I won’t back down. I do try to be fair as possible of course but if the words are out there, then it will be followed through. It may be tough and I know it is very difficult when they are dealing with issues of their own. Things need to be “Black & White” because if there is a “Grey” area, it is very difficult to be taken seriously. Hard truth is that if they always know there is a fail safe, they may never work to improve because of the “bail out”.

      I hope that it makes sense and you are able to overcome the challenge. Best of luck in a challenging situation.

      All the best!


  17. Thank you for your excellent point. We have 3 children, with my 1st and 3rd child, we always had them work for what they wanted. Minimally everything was split 50/50. If they wanted it , they had to come up with half of it! It worked! They are good with their money, and appreciate what they have. My middle one….oh boy ! I think because he was a very sick infant I gave him everything! He is now finishing his 3rd year of college, despite holding him to a budget, he still calls for $ constantly. We finally put our foot down and hold him responsible for his money. It’s been tough, but I am starting to see the light…..and so is he!

    1. Author

      Thank you Teresa and great job! I know it is hard at times but I believe the more we have stick to what we say, the better off it is for everyone. Keep up the great work!

  18. Excellent article! I have worked in Children’s Minstry for close to 20yrs. My husband and I have six children ages 25-14yrs of age. We constantly get asked, “How did you raise such great kids?”… I wouldn’t always say great, It’s because we put God first, and all the things listed here with in the article. Boundaries are great, and the word NO was used. As well as expectations starting at an early age. This parenting thing is not easy, but can be done. And we are far from the model family, but I can guarentee my kids do not show signs of entitlement, but of humility, and a servants heart.
    Now the next generation is growing inside our two eldest married daughters, and I know without a doubt, they will be taught and raised very similar.
    I love teaching parent equipping classes, and seeing this generation change how they parent!!

    1. Author

      Nice job Heather! More people like you will change the whole “Entitlement” generation. Nothing is more valuable than a “Moral” Education. Congrats on doing it right. Thank you for your contribution!

  19. As an educator I found this article to be spot on! I have friends that are educators as well and they are feeling burned out and ineffective because of this epidemic. I truly worry about this generation for a number of reasons. I worry that they will suffer from depression because they will not get their way in the real world. I worry that the economy will suffer because they will not know what is means to work hard and hold down a job. I even worry how they will make it through college, let alone have a decent career! I worry about our generation working until their health is completely gone. I worry about our generation having anyone capable enough to care for us in our old age.

    Thank you for this blog and I highly encourage you to further delve into this issue and have others to jump on board and spread this life saving message.

    1. Author

      Thank you Bridget, a very powerful response indeed. The concern is real and very valid. Working with children all of my adult career I have the same concerns. That is what triggered me to write the article as well as the experiences with my own children. I will be exploring this topic further work to raise the awareness further. Thank you for your contribution

  20. I have 11,children , 10 adopted from the foster care system. I thought the entitlement issue was because they were adopted. I see so much of it lately. From presidential hopefuls on down. It’s a scary to me.
    Thank you for your article

    1. Author

      Hello Valerie, two of my children are adopted as well so I could relate. (Kind of) You must be a special person to adopt 10 children. Definitely not because of being adopted, because of what is happening in society today. The more people come together to help the cause, the better!

  21. We must have raised black belt kids without knowing it. Since our three sons were in junior high, we have never given them money (except for special occasions). We never denied it to them either. They just never asked, believe it or not!

  22. This is a great article and I can certainly relate. I am 48, don’t have any children, but was certainly raised with this parenting style. My parents raised four hard-working, honest children. They didn’t spoil us mostly out of necessity/financial circumstances. I would wager though that had they had the means, they would not have done anything different.

    Like I said, I’m not a parent. But I can’t imagine that if I’d had kids, I wouldn’t raise them with this same philosophy. My mother used to say children needed to have some ‘skin in the game’. It has bewildered me to see my generation abandon those very parenting techniques that made us hard-working, successful, responsible, or productive members of society.

    I have an entrepreneurial sister that owns her own very successful business. As a parent though, she has failed miserably. The very traits our parents instilled in us (work ethic, accountability, money management) were the prerequisites to start and run her business. But in an effort to “make life not as difficult” for her own two kids, she lowered the expectation bar and essentially bought them everything. This is so unfortunate–and I would assert almost cruel. It is doubtful that either one of her children will achieve a fraction of what she has in their future working lives. I think what so many of these parents miss is that they are simply not doing their job as parents. If you don’t sharpen your kid to be the best he/she can be, you are assuring his/her mediocre place in society. At the very least, you are telling your child that you don’t think they are capable of doing that very thing they need to learn. What kind of message is that?

    It sounds like your children are aware how lucky they are to have you two as their parents. No doubt they will appreciate this on an even deeper level when they earn the higher-paying, top positions (for which the spoiled children of helicopter parents are passed over).

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