It's natural to idealize how you were raised. I do it, too. I mean, in some ways my childhood was idyllic — a small town, a stay-at-home mom, and the freedom to roam until the street lights came on. I've come to understand, though, that when people people talk about how awesome their childhoods were, they generally follow with a criticism of "parents these days" and their "entitled kids." I'm so over it. I'd even go so far to say that millennial moms aren't raising entitled kids at all. We are just raising different kids in a different world, with fewer resources, more debt, and a whole new set of challenges than the ones our parents and grandparents faced.
Besides, most of the arguments leveled against millennial parents pretty much prove that people don't know what "entitled" really means.
"You don't make your kids clean their plates? They will think they don't have to eat what you cook. They are so entitled."
As if it's a bad thing to not force someone to eat a food they dislike or eat when they aren't hungry. As someone who has endured an eating disorder and experienced what is sure to be life-long issues with food, I am actually OK with my kids knowing they get to control what they put in their bodies.
"Everyone got a trophy for competing? What a shame. Kids are so entitled these days."
OK, so from now on, we will only pay lawyers when they win cases, doctors when their patients have positive outcomes, legislators when they get legislation passed, and professional athletes when they win games. Sound fair? Of course not. Effort matters. Besides, all kids aren't able to win. And for some of them, showing up requires some serious hard work.
"Your kid is throwing quite a tantrum at the store. You need him to fear you. What an entitled brat."
You're damn right my kids don't fear me, and I don't want them to.
Actually, when I think about it, there are a ton of things I actually want my kids to feel entitled to — bodily autonomy, respect, acceptance, safety, equal rights, health care, an education — and those things shouldn't be negotiable or up for debate. So, maybe I am raising entitled kids? I don't think so. I think everyone deserves those things. Look, motherhood is hard AF, and while I don't want a participation trophy, I would really like previous generations to stop dismissing millennials when we're simply trying to parent the best we can in a world they created for us. So no, we're not raising "entitled" kids, and here's why:
Because We Can't Afford To
I don't know about you, but I'm broke AF. I can't afford to buy my kids every toy they want. I can't even blame the lattes I enjoy, because I am talking real debt and expenses, not just the kind that saving five dollars a week can fix. Most of the parents I know are in the same boat. So, we work hard to save money so that we can ensure our kids have what they need and when we can actually afford to do or buy something special, it's because we saved for it, not because our kids are entitled.
Because We Work Hard
I am so tired of hearing how lazy moms in my generation are. I'm also tired, like literally tired, because I work hard at two jobs and for multiple clients, because yeah, like lots of moms my age, I'm also an entrepreneur. So tell me again how lazy I am? Moms today are way more likely to work than our moms were (70 percent compared to 47 percent in 1975), and we are the breadwinners for 40 percent of families in the United States. This teaches our kids some pretty important things about hard work, gender roles, independence, and flexibility. It does not teach them about entitlement.
Because We Teach Our Kids How Money Works
My partner and I don't have enough money to buy every new toy or gaming system our kids desire, so we teach them about how money works. We even set up their own quarter jar reward system and give them a quarter when they help out or do something hard, brave, or kind. Last year our kids saved money for half of the holiday presents they wanted (over $200). So while they do have tablets and toys, they understand their value, too.
Because We Know That Motherhood Doesn't Have To Mean Martyrdom
So, here's the thing: it's sort of impossible to parent our kids the way previous generations did — logistically, financially, and psychologically. But what we can do is know our own limits and take care of our health and mental health, so that we can do our best day in and day out as parents and citizens of the world. So, yeah, don't expect me to work myself to death trying to "do it all" and at the expense of my health or happiness. My kids deserve to learn that self care is important, and that doesn't make me — or them — entitled.
Because We Value Showing Up & Participating
I remember clearly crossing the finish line at my first half marathon. I wasn't even close to first. I saw the volunteers start to pack things up, and told them to hold off because I knew not everyone had finished yet. Everyone there deserved a medal. Yes, even the person who was dead last. So, yeah, I think participation trophies are valuable and worthwhile and not responsible for the downfall of society. You see, participating is not always easy for all people, especially people who will never win. Sometimes the process is more important than the result. Trying or showing up is worth recognition, especially if a child has physical limitations or is not neurotypical.
Because We Teach Them About Consent
So, I am trying to raise my kids — especially my sons — to be pretty much the opposite of entitled, by teaching them about consent. When I was a kid, it was the norm to make kids sit on Santa's lap, kiss grandma, and get tickled, even if they didn't want to or wanted it to stop. That's not OK with me. I am teaching my kids that they need to ask before they touch other people, to stop when someone says stop, and that they have a right to bodily autonomy, no matter what.
Because We Realize That Tantrums Happen To Good Parents
All kids throw tantrums. Every single one. Kids are little balls of emotion and can't always communicate their needs or get what they want. In my opinion, these little explosions are almost always related to hunger, anger, loneliness, or exhaustion. So, I've learned that while some tantrums are preventable, by bringing snacks and not skipping nap time, some aren't.
When I get stares and people mutter under their breaths about my entitled kids, I remember that I threw tantrums, too, and so did the kids in my mom's generation and in her mom's generation. The world, and their parenting strategies for how to handle them, are just different.
Because We Respect Our Kids
Whenever anyone suggests that my kids are entitled because I don't spank them, I have to laugh, because as a child who was spanked I can tell you that I wasn't compliant because I respected my parents. I was compliant because I was terrified of them.
So, yeah, I do way more explaining than punishing, and I have high expectations of myself as a parent. It's way harder than spanking or yelling, sure, but I want my kids to do the right thing because it's the right thing, not because they are scared of me. They are kids, and my job is to teach them and keep them safe, not scare them into submission.
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