A friend recently mused over whether his children appreciate what is given to them after his younger child complained of not getting ice cream at the end of a whole day devoted to her and her wishes. This made me think a lot about my own children and whether they appreciate what they have, particularly as we’ve experienced the same type of ingratitude around here, too.
In my estimation, we live a typical middle-class (what’s left of it) life—we can’t afford a lot of luxuries but we are able to have most of the things we want and pretty much anything we really need. It should be noted, though, that my husband and I aren’t particularly materialistic people so our lifestyle may be modest by typical American standards.
Regardless, there are trips to theme parks and family vacations and modern computers and iPads and iPhones and Netflix and cable TV and super-fast fiber optic internet access and health insurance and quality organic food in the fridge and a scooter and two decent cars and big birthday celebrations and dance classes and t-ball and basketball and cheerleading and scouts and way too many Lego sets and several ridiculously expensive American Girl dolls and frequent outings for ice cream and the movies and a Wii and a Nintendo DS and a house full of toys.
In the grand scheme of things, my children want for very little and yet, they’re never satisfied. While that might seem like an obvious case of cause and effect, it’s just not that simple.
I go to great lengths to NOT spoil them and I say no to plenty of their endless requests. I intentionally avoid buying them something every time we go to a store and we’ve been scaling back Christmas gifts for the past several years. I also frequently point out how blessed they are and have even made my older child sit and watch one of those “Feed the Children” programs with so she can see how bad some kids have it and conversely, how lucky she is to live the life she lives.
I also avoid letting my kids watch commercial television, particularly on kid’s channels, because I believe advertising DOES, in many cases, make people feel dissatisfied with what they have, as well inspire an acquisitive, materialistic mindset—particularly in children, who simply aren’t equipped to filter out all the manipulative BS in advertising.
But none of this seems to have made any difference. My children’s favorite words are “I want…” and “Can I get…” By way of birthdays, Christmas and generous grandparents, they have so much and they still want more. It never ends.
Perhaps having some (okay, a LOT) of what they want is the reason they seem to appreciate nothing. But just because they have the things they want doesn’t mean they don’t have to earn them or wait for them. They don’t just ask and instantly get what they want and for what it’s worth, they’re not brats. They don’t yell and scream for things and they have manners most of the time. It’s just their insatiable desire for more, more, more that bothers me so much.
So…I’m at a loss. I don’t know how we got to this place where nothing is ever enough. I feel like I’ve done most things right and that I’ve been very conscious of how we’re raising them and yet, it seems to make no difference. Are they just typical kids or terrible ingrates???
And of course, I do have to wonder if it’s my perspective that’s skewed. I don’t think we’re spoiling them but maybe we are without even realizing it.
What about your children? What are you doing to keep from raising ingrates with a monster-sized sense of entitlement? Is it working or are you sitting there scratching your head like I am and trying to figure out where you went wrong?