Most healthy, loving parents want to do whatever they can to give their children a good life, have every advantage and perhaps have opportunities that they may not have had themselves as a youth. As a parent in Boca Raton, I know that our children are given more than most! It is not unusual to see Boca teens driving BMWs or carrying Chanel wallets. Who doesn’t want the very best for their kids? And who doesn’t want to do all that they can to give their child every advantage in life?
Yet one of the unintended consequences of providing so much for our offspring is the risk that they will become entitled, demanding jerks! To make matters even worse, they may attribute their good fortune and success to their own efforts rather than the fact that they were lucky to be born into a family that had the motivation and means to provide them with so many helpful advantages. A lot of kids in America are, as they say, born on third base.
So, what can loving parents do? There are no easy answers but perhaps keeping these three principles in mind is critical in raising kids with privilege.
1. Model the behavior that you want in your child.
Research informs us that people watch models and then imitate them. From the time our children are very young, they observe the behavior around them (especially those of parents and other important figures) and “go and do likewise.” So, how you behave in the world really matters with actions speaking much louder than words. If you want your children to treat others with compassion and kindness, then you need to model this behavior for them.
2. All men (and women) are created equal.
Use this phrase from the Declaration of Independence as a mantra! Regardless of status in life, financial situation, education, or title, all men (and women) are created equal! So, whenever your child says something that suggests that they are better than someone else, it is important to provide loving, but corrective and immediate feedback, that they are wrong!
3. Spend time with those who struggle.
Spending time with those who struggle in terms of resources, disabilities, addictions, etc, can certainly help us to not get so full of ourselves. Community service and volunteerism, immersion trips, and so forth can make people more compassionate and help to lower stress by giving back. It is critical, however, that spending time with those who struggle must be done with solidarity in mind. Just trying to “help those less fortunate” than ourselves is really the wrong attitude. Coming together as equals in solidarity with a mutual appreciation for each other is the attitude you want to nurture and maintain. Remember, solidarity is what you want, not charity.
There are no simple answers to parenting children that are privileged, but if we remember these three principles, perhaps we can avoid raising entitled jerks!