How to Raise Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

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Last week I wrote about a 22-year-old college student who blew through a $90k inheritance she was supposed to use for college, and then blamed her parents for her failures. You probably don't even have to read the article to think what an entitled ungrateful brat she is, right?

As I listened to that interview I kept thinking how much I wanted to make sure my children never turned out like her or so many other kids I hear about today.

Growing up it really wasn't hard to be grateful for what I had, because we didn't have a lot.  No, we weren't starving (partly because my mother was a garden goddess) and we never went without necessities, but we also weren't lavished with expensive toys or gifts. We didn't take European vacations (like Kim from last week's piece) and we certainly weren't wearing designer clothes, either. In fact, remind me some time to tell you about getting kicked out of Nordstrom by an employee after my father found out the price of a pair of Guess jeans. I can't imagine what my parents would have said if I'd have asked them for the equivalent of  a $700 iPad!

I don't know if there's an increase in spoiled brats, or if I'm just noticing it more, but I've read several pieces lately about entitled children, and apparently there's even a prescription for raising one.  It made me wonder, do we have too much as Americans and does being abundantly blessed make it harder to be grateful?

The fact is that the vast majority of children in America are rich compared to the rest of the world.  Even most of the children that fall below the Federal Poverty Level and are considered "poor" by our government's standards have air conditioning, a car, satellite TV, and even an Xbox or other game consoles.  And please, don't get me wrong -- I want us to be affluent, to have savings, to be able to bless people with our wealth. Having wealth doesn't mean you're automatically going to be ungrateful or raise entitled children.

But are there things we can do as parents to help raise grateful children in such an entitled world? I think there are. Here are just a few suggestions, I know there are dozens more:

1. Don't Overindulge Your Children

This is probably the hardest lesson to learn as a parent.  If you're anything like me, you save all year to buy all the perfect Christmas gifts and birthday presents your angel could possibly want -- only to realize they're oftentimes just as happy (if not happier) playing with the box or the bubble-wrap your expensive gift came in. Years ago we we began drastically reducing the number of gifts we buy and the money we spend on our kids for any occasion. There have been several years now where our kids have opted for no birthday presents, but instead have chosen just to have a small party at the house with pizza and movies. At Christmastime our children have even suggested giving some of the money we would spend on them to buy gifts for orphans or donating it to the church.