I recently heard a radio program with guest Kay Wills Wyma who spoke about “ending entitlement” in children (8/29/12: Family Life Today). It was kind of a watershed moment for me, standing in the kitchen that day. Because as much as I’d like to think that our kids are grateful and giving, never struggling with the “gimmes” and “I want it’s!”, we all know that sin is ever before us.
I get that way, too.
Can you relate, mom?
- A trip to Costco is wrought with “OOOh! I should get that!” or “Wow–just $10!” I have to stop and ask whether I model entitlement to my little ones.
- Am I quick to deny myself?
- Am I willing to say “no” to myself even when it’s hard? If not, is it reasonable to expect that from my children?
One of Kay Wyma’s points was that in our society, much unlike earlier generations, we don’t need our children — especially when they’re teens. Our children are not needed to help build a home. To maintain a farm. To hunt for food. To collect eggs for breakfast.
In effect, we have turned our kids into little consumers whom we serve and love without expecting anything in return. The result is often times a lack of purpose as kids grow older, which statistics say can lead to depression and low self-esteem.
What have we lost in creating consumers?
Kay would argue that both kids and parents have lost out on powerful moments of serving, of gratitude, of teaching, and spiritual growth.
- How can we expect our children to naturally “offer to help” if we haven’t shown them what it looks like to do so?
- How can we expect a clean bedroom when we haven’t taught what a clean bedroom looks like?
- How can we expect our kids to leave our nest with cooking, laundry, and bill-paying skills if we’ve never sat down and given direct instruction?
Indeed, we set ourselves up for kids who not only want us to do everything for them, but need us to do everything…because in the truest sense, they have not mastered basic life skills for themselves.
Where to begin:
One of Kay’s ideas that resonated with me was that of getting kids involved in the kitchen. It’s a great place to start teaching them and helping them to feel needed.
She argues that kids of nearly all ages can do something to be helpful in the preparation of a meal — and they should. In her home, Kay began to have the children take turns planning a meal, choosing a helper (sous chef), creating a shopping list based on that meal, and then actually cooking the meal.
Now I know some of you are saying, “No Way!! You don’t know my kid!” But here’s a list of ways that even little ones can help:
- end beans
- wash fruits/veggies
- roll protein in panko or breadcrumbs for another to bake/fry
- peel potatoes and carrots
- prepare the bread or rolls to be warmed in the oven
- add salt & pepper with your help
- use a lettuce knife to prepare a salad (these are usually plastic and not as sharp as a regular knife)
- butter the bread for grilled cheese; slice & add cheese (panini makers make this easy!)
- collect taco toppings and put them into bowls for serving