This is a continuation of my first blog post: The “Entitlement” Generation….What in the world have we done and five ways to fix/prevent it.
Wow! I am overwhelmed with the response that my last blog post has received. I had no idea that so many people were feeling the same way I do. Thank you all for your input, contributions, suggestions and stories. Very powerful to say the least. I figure that I would continue on the same “Entitlement” topic with the hope that if more people see it and enough of us join together, we could all join forces and make a huge difference.
There were many questions that were asked on what could be done to change the “Entitlement” mindset of the up and coming generation. I have been giving it a lot of thought and was reflecting on my own experiences as a parent, teacher, martial arts Instructor and personal development coach. Thinking about what I have done to help generate responsible young adults. Here are a few thoughts that came to mind.
Keep out of the “Grey”, everything must be “Black & White”
One reflection is that there is no grey area with me. Perhaps it is due to my martial arts background but everything is black and white and my expectations are pretty clear. For my children, there were two values I always expected from them and still hold them to it to this day; Respect and Integrity. My children knew that if they always show respect and integrity in and out of our household, there will never be a challenge. Break those values and have then we have an issue, and when those values were broken, there were serious consequences. There were times that my wife and I were forced to carry out consequences even we really didn’t want to because we could not go back on our word. It’s black and white, if we say it we have to follow through. The biggest hurdle that my children faced is when “trust” was broken, it is very hard to earn back; although we always made it possible for them to do so.
Let them know the expectations….”Berlow Family Meetings”
As I said previously, my wife and I are certainly no experts and we have made many mistakes as we raised and continue to raise or children. I am proud to say that we also have had many successes as well. One thing that we did that helped our children be more responsible is we clear communicated our expectations. We did this through weekly Sunday Night Family Meetings that all of my children were required to attend. There were no exceptions.
I believe running a family is similar to running a business. Especially when you have five children with very individual personalities. If you have any experience in the business world, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The parents are management and the children are the employees. In the business world, the manager has to be able to coordinate, inspire, work with the employees to be productive members of the organization. Employees have to earn their way to keep their position in the company. Parents need to manage their children to be productive members of society. Children need to earn their privileges and not expect them simply because they’re your children.
When a manager wants to discuss company goals, issues that need to be addressed, or general announcements they have a staff meeting. My wife and I would do the same thing with our family. In fact, it was so powerful that my daughter’s friends would often want to come over to be a part of the “Berlow Family Meeting”. I must admit that it did get comical at times.
What’s a family meeting look like: OK, so now I will share with you how we ran our family meetings. We would use the same meeting format that I use with my martial arts businesses as well as Empowered Mastery. Of course, there are some differences but it was generally the same.
1. Positive Focus: I know that this may seem silly but the first thing we would do is all of us would go around the table and share one positive thing that has happened throughout the week. This was really important because it was training everyone to be able to find the positive even if they had challenging week. It also served to lighten the mood if there was a stressful situation that needed to be addressed.
2. State of the Family Address: At this time of the meeting, my wife or I would address any short comings that may have happened throughout the week. If someone did not do their required chores, they may have lost a privilege. We also would acknowledge those who were doing a great job and address accordingly as well. Basically, we would reflect on the week and reinforce our expectations to our children. We would also let them know the consequences if they did not meet the expectations. This way our kids were able to make a decision to weigh out the pro’s or con’s on whether or not they do their responsibilities.
3. Chore Chart: This is like a time card at a business with putting the employees in particular roles at a particular time. We would outline all the responsibilities that we expect the children to do, put their names on it and they knew exactly what their responsibilities were. I even asked them to set reminders in their phones so they remember. They always had the opportunity to exchange amongst themselves as long as the chores and responsibilities were done. They earned the privileges, nothing was handed to them.
The beauty of the meetings is that it gave a clear roadmap for the family to follow and the expectations were spelled out. We also had some fun while doing so.
My wife and I never gave our children allowance as they were growing up. If they wanted something, they would have to use gift money or earn it by doing additional chores. Correct me if I’m wrong but giving an allowance is like giving your child money just because they are your child. Someone might say that allowance compensates children for their chores. I don’t agree. They do the chores because they are living in the house that you provide for them. If our children wanted to earn some money for something, we would give them extra jobs above and beyond the scope of their chores. I believe that allowance is just rewarding them for being your child as if they are entitled to receive it. Honestly speaking, that is setting them up for failure in the future. Make them earn it and they will learn to respect the value of money much more.
Make them do it themselves…And start young
I cannot begin to tell you how many times my children or even my martial arts students have asked me to do something for them and I would say, “No, I think you need to do it yourself”. I remember saying this to my teenage son and him responding, “Why can’t you just do that for me, it’ll make it so much easier for me.” I asked if he is able to do it, he said “Yes”. I said, “Then why should I do it for you, when you could do it for yourself. How will you ever know how to do it on your own if I am always doing it for you.”
I am sure you could apply this to most scenarios of parenting and working with children to young adults. The challenge always exists in our mind where we still want our children to have better lives then we experienced, but again I say at what cost. If we do everything for them, they won’t be able to take care of themselves. We have had our children do their own laundry since they were 11 or 12 years old. When they went to college my son told me that he needed to show his friends on how to do their laundry.
We would have them clean up after themselves no matter what. If they made a mess and left the room, I would call them down to take care of it even if I could have easily done it myself in five seconds. They were not too happy when they had to walk down the stairs, put it away and go back to what they were doing.
It is these little instances where parents and adults have to hold the children accountable and not always “rescue” them to get rid of the “Entitlement” Mindset.
In closing, I have a young adult son that still lives at home. He is working full time, has his own cell phone account, he recently bought a car and pays for his own insurance. I am proud that he is taking on these responsibilities. I also require that he pays a weekly rent to live at home. He is an adult; he eats our food, uses our laundry detergent (Which is a big issue in my household), uses our utilities, and lives in a fairly nice suburban house. He said to me that he doesn’t think he should pay. I asked why and he said, “Because I’m your son”. I asked him, “What does that have to do with anything?” Yikes, entitlement at it’s best. In his mind he should not have to pay rent because he is my son. Crazy, right! Well, he is paying rent or he will not have a place to live. Tough love is the hardest kind of love but required to help this generation lose the “Entitled mindset”.
Stay strong parents and don’t give in to the temptation of always giving to your children, no matter what age they are.
The more they earn, the more they learn!
One last thing, I do things for my children all the time, but I do them because I want to and I love them, not just because they are my children. If they need me for something important, they know I have their back.
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All the best!