About two weeks ago, President Bush spoke about limiting spending on government “entitlements” like Social Security and Medicare. I have some thoughts on that, but my mind began drifting to other “entitlements”. Specifically, the overwhelming change in what children/teenagers today seem to think that they are “owed” or “entitled” to have.
I have no children, but I do speak from personal experience as I have nieces, nephews, godchildren and friends with children. I laugh with my 17 year old god daughter sometimes about how “old fashioned” she thinks I am. Well, if that’s the worst term used to describe me, I’ll take it. *lol*
A little about the way I grew up before we talk about the current generation of knuckleheads, oops, I mean teenagers. This is no critique of the parenting skills of anyone in particular, rather, just a commentary on my observations. I grew up as the only child to the best damn parents in the world. They were childhood friends who grew up around the corner from each other and eventually married. My two families are really like one big family (see previous sentence: they grew up around the corner from each other *lol*). I’m the youngest grandchild by 13 years and the only female grandchild on one side AND I’m the oldest grandchild by 2 years on the other side. So, boys and girls, what does that say to you? Yep, ya girl was spoiled. But, in my defense, I was a wonderful kid and I deserved it. 🙂 But, even I think there is a fine line between being spoiled and expecting everything to be handed to you on a silver platter.
Anyway, my childhood memories are varied and plentiful. My life had lots of structure and the most important thing that my parents instilled was that, “Education is essential. School is important, but there are life lessons to understand also.” With that as out motto, the following were part of my life:
- Weekly chores like cleaning my room (ugh!), setting the table and feeding the dog.
- Weekly allowance based on the completion of those chores
- Family dinner, at the table, EVERY NIGHT
- Family game night, at least ONCE A WEEK
- Homework immediately after school
- Two hours of television per week. This was good, wholesome tv only. Shows like Our House, Little House on the Prairie, and of course, The Cosby Show.
In talking to friends and family recently, everyone stares in open mouth shock at the last household rule. I accepted it for what it was and I never wished for more because tv was secondary, or even tertiary to family and learning. So, the things that I learned growing up still mean an awful lot to me. Their teachings and the things we shared were primary to everything else. I learned that time had a value, that tv was “mindless entertainment”, and that I had to work for the things I wanted.
Anyway, back to my god daughter, let’s call her Teen. Teen is complaining because she has run out of minutes for her cell phone. What da hell? It’s only the 10th of the Month and you’ve already used 250 minutes? Who in da hell are you talking to? That was the first question that came to mind, but I as I thought more about it, all I could do was compare it to the way I grew up.
- I was only allowed to call family until I was 10
- Always had to use the kitchen phone (so as not to get too comfortable)
- Finally got an extension in my room at 15 (HALLELUJAH!)
- No calls after 9pm or my father would embarrass the hell out of me
- Got my own phone number the summer after my first year in college, because I was old enough to have “private” conversations and pay my own bill
- Got my first cell phone at 24
- Still use less than 500 minutes a month
She laughs when I tell her these things and says, “Well, times were different then. My moms had to get me a cell phone. Everyone has cell phones nowadays. She knows wassup. I need my phone. It’s like a hugh school requirement.” Huh? So, somewhere along the way, food, clothing, shelter and support weren’t enough? Cells phones were added to the “Needs” list? Did I miss that memo?
Teen actually had the nerve to be mad at her mother for not buying her more minutes until December 1. She threw a fit and has refused to speak to her mother. She asked me to buy them and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t. I suppose to make the godmother waters smooth, I should have given in, but I have an objection to the demands of this generation. They seem to want and expect more and more to be handed to them without working for or earning it. Yes, Teen gets straight A’s, but that’s why she gets a better than average allowance, access to the family wagon (only has to gas it) and a new IPOD for making Dean’s list for 6 consecutive quarters.
It seems that kids are feeling that if it exists, then it should be given to them. What do ya’ll think? What changed? Is it the parents? Is the music, the media, etc? I think the basics should still apply and be taugh – rules are in place for a reason, work hard and your work will pay off. As a child, I expected that my parents would give me some (ok, most) of the things that I asked for, usually on my birthday and at Christmas time. Other “rewards” were in place when I achieved something. Sold the most Girl Scout Cookies – the new Kool Moe Dee tape. Performed in a piano recital and took 2nd place – a new Cabbage Patch Doll. A tantrum and a breakdown because I was in the store and wanted a new Polly Pocket doll – a new ass whoopin! Maybe I’m wrong, but that sense of entitlement makes my blood boil.