Do Not Buy a Child’s Compliance or Cooperation
The highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets for it,
but what he becomes by it. ~ John Ruskin
William J. Doherty, PhD tells us in his book Take Back Your Kids that there is a new culture for children. They are now seen as consumers of parental services. And parents are viewed as providers of parental services and brokersof community services for children. It has become the jobof “good”parents to serve and provide their children with a plethora of activities and rewards, so their children can have every chance at success in today’s fast-paced, competitive society.
When parents view themselves as providers of services they end up very confused and even anxious. Not that providing services isn’t a part of what it means to be a parent, it is. But we must distinguish the kind of services that truly aid our children in becoming all they are capable of being.
If we act only asproviders of services we can end up insecure about whether we are providing enough goods and services. If we listen to messages from other confused parents, the media and the inflated and entitled demands of our children, we can begin to feel that no matter how much we do and give, there is never enough. That is exactly how entitlement slyly infects our families.
It makes sense that in a competitive, capitalistic economy, the service provider must at all costs avoid disappointing the customer. They must strive to offer the newest and best. When applied to the family, this is a recipe for disaster that creates insecure parents and entitled kids.
The confusion comes when parents are not sure of what is harmful and what is helpful. We have higher education for everything except for the two areas that we need it the most—parenting and relationships. Therefore many parents don’t understand some of the services that they are providing and how they are being provided are actually harming their children.
Dr. Doherty believes:
When parents serve their children too much, they identify too closely with their successes and failures. It becomes hard to tell whether the child’s athletic events are more for the child or the parents. Lower academic grades produce parental outrage against the teacher. Parents cannot deny a request for the latest designer clothing item, because having one’s teenager be “out of it” with peers is a unacceptable to the parent as it is to the young person. In serving too much and expecting too little, we end up confusing out children’s needs with our own. Their insecurities become ours, and our insecurities become theirs.
We must remember that children get their entitled attitudes from the same culture that feeds self-centered adults. This is the “ME” generation. We live more isolated from community than ever before. Most people do not know their neighbors names, let alone offer to be of service to them.
It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. Albert Einstein