Kids today are spoiled. Maybe kids have always been spoiled and the only difference is, I am on the parenting side of the issue. Now being on the parenting side of the entitlement issue, I am constantly walking a fine line between doing what I know is right and would help my kids in the long run (aka…not giving into their every need and want) and giving into my kids wants and desires because…well…every other planet on the face of the Earth is (seemingly) giving their kids everything, no questions asked.
My family is lucky to live in a nice, middle class neighborhood, in a town where gated communities, luxury cars and money rule our ocean side town. My kids go to school and play sports with kids who come from an elite society of money, wealth and fame. Going to the grocery store will more than likely turn into a run in with a famous golfer or other sports celebrity. Going to the mall, one where Tory Burch, Saks and Burberry reign while Macy’s is considered a lower end store, requires more primping than a night out at a nice restaurant.
iPads, iPhones and iPods are what kids want, starting at a very young age. iPads, iPhones and iPods are what kids get, starting at a very young age. Nike shoes that cost a ridiculous amount of money rule the school hallways and designer labels are being discussed amongst the girls in kindergarten classes.
Not a week goes by when my teenagers and tweens hound me, get mad at me and eventually walk to their rooms pouting because I won’t buy them an iPhone, I won’t spend money on the latest LeBron shoes, I won’t cave when the but our friends parents buy them that stuff line is used on me. The constant battle to give my kids what they want vs. making them understand just because we can afford something, doesn’t mean you can instantly have it, drives me crazy. As a parent I know that not handing over a pair of $300 sneakers is the right thing to do. Kids need to learn that money doesn’t grow on trees, that us as parents work our butts off to make that money. But as a parent, I also know that showing up to school in a Target polo shirt instead of whatever the hip store at the moment is, is hard on a kid. Kids who are less fortunate are made fun of. They are teased. They are bullied. It is a really sad and disheartening thing to see and hear about.
What I am not understanding is, when did it become the social norm to spend ridiculous amounts of money on meaningless “things”?
I cannot sit here and preach to the choir like I am above the entitling of our children. I do spoil the you know what out of all five of my children. Christmas morning at our house is ridiculous. We currently have four xbox’s hooked up to four different televisions throughout our house. My kids wear nice clothes and have nice things. We go on nice vacations. We eat at nice restaurants. We drive nice cars. But at some point, enough is enough. Each and every day I feel as though I am either crossing that entitlement boundary that shouldn’t be breached or I am the mean parent who is making her kid suffer the consequences of my trying to do the right thing and raise my kid the right way. For instance, all of our kids have kindles. I was on board with the idea of if it will make the kids read more, sign me up. The thing is, we haven’t just bought five kindles for five kids. We have bought nine kindles for five kids because kids are kids and don’t treat their stuff with any kind of care. Kindles have been stepped on and broken. Kindles have been sat on and broken. Kindles have been forgotten at restaurants and mysteriously vanished by the time we drive back to retrieve it.
Spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on an electronic device or a pair of shoes is ridiculous when you factor in the fact that a kid, no matter what their families social stature is, will treat that expensive item the same way they treat a toy from the dollar store.
When you buy that iPhone for your teen or tween or you fork over a paycheck for the latest LeBron sneakers, you are opening up a door that will not close behind you. Kids begin to expect the higher end stuff. They expect that the broken electronic immediately be replaced with a shiny new one. They expect…and expect…and expect some more instead of learning the value of saving for something, of working for something, of not always being able to get what they want, when they want it.
The unfortunate reality is, until society stops basing itself around the designer labels, the logos, the meaningless stuff that will be outgrown or out of date in less than a year, nothing will change. Me and others like me will continue to walk that fine line between being the mean parent and enabler. We will continue to have daily battles with our children as to why they can’t have an iPhone. We will continue to raise a generation of kids who think nothing about the cost of something, who think nothing of spending $600 on something, who will never make it in the real world.
Kids and parents need a reality check. One day, sooner than later, our kids will be out in the real world, applying for college, applying for jobs, paying bills and struggling to make ends meet. Unless something changes, our kids will falter. They won’t know how to handle rejection, rules, the prioritizing of their finances. They will be shocked when their first minimum wage job won’t cover the cost of the latest version of an iPad. They will be shocked when the boss doesn’t put up with the entitled attitude. They will squirm when they realize how much their parents lifestyle actually costs each month.
Like I said, maybe all of us are brought up in an entitled environment. But now, as a parent, I am not enjoying the path which I see most kids, including my own, traveling down. I guess the only thing to do is keep walking the fine line, hoping that I am correctly balancing the spoiled, entitled attitudes against the values I hope my kids will one day appreciate.
I would love to know how you feel. Do you think this generation of kids is more spoiled than we were? How do you walk that fine line between giving your kids things versus teaching them life lessons/values?