“Man is not, by nature, deserving of all that he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something, that is when we start walking all over others to get it.” ― Criss Jami, Diotima, Battery, Electric Personality
Relationships–it seems the ones that really work are the ones that in some way supply something we need either physically, emotionally or financially. But what happens to the relationship when your expectations are no longer being met? Disappointment, disillusionment and discouragement set in. Since you are no longer getting what you bargained for in the relationship, you become critical and begin to consider separation. It’s time to move on to someone who gives you what you feel you want, need or deserve. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario between children/parents, spouses, friends and coworkers, etc. So over the next few posts, let’s look at how this plays out in our various relationships.
“It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild.
I grew up in East Texas where it is very hot and there was no air conditioning. We didn’t go to grocery stores and buy everything we wanted; farmers in our church brought us produce and meat out of love. My afternoon’s entertainment was shelling peas or snapping beans to help prepare dinner. We didn’t have swing sets or playhouses. We didn’t go to city parks to play. The only amusement park was Disneyland, and it was in California, so it might as well have been on the moon. We played outdoors with a neighbor or our siblings. Our parents would never have considered it their responsibility to coordinate play dates, sleepovers and fantasy excursions. Birthday parties meant a homemade cake with the family and maybe some crepe paper streamers. We got our first TV when I was almost eight. I never had a store bought dress until I was in my mid-twenties and made my own money. Christmas meant one toy and a stocking with fruit and candy. Family vacations were few–I remember one at a cabin owned by a church member that was truly in the middle of nowhere. We swam and fished in the lake and played dominoes or checkers for entertainment. The annual rodeo was big entertainment–I’m not sure why as I’m terrified of bulls. There was no college fund–I worked and put myself through college. While in college, a three-minute weekly phone call was my contact with home–there were no parent weekends because they were too far away and they couldn’t afford to travel to see me.
Never once have I considered myself deprived. My parents (and grandparents) survived the Great Depression when food was a rare commodity and shoes always seemed to have holes in their soles. I have always been grateful for everything my parents did for me. Yes, as I got older, I realized others had more in material things than we did, but I didn’t cop a mindset of entitlement–feel my parent’s owed me more. They gave me life. They gave me what they could. It was a good era to be a child. I was blessed. Today my home is filled with many treasures and luxuries we never dreamed of in those East Texas days. But never once have I looked back and held the lack of anything against my parents. I thank God for their sacrifices for our family. They did the best they could; and I was blessed.
For better or worse, we usually get our parenting patterns from our parents. When my children came along, life was beginning to change. We found a few city parks and a putt putt course or two. We even got to take the kids to DisneyWorld. We didn’t have money for the circus when it was in town, but I prayed and someone gave my parents free tickets so they took the children–and I rejoiced over answered prayer. We sacrificed to put the kids in Christian school and I got involved in cheerleading to be with my daughter. Little league baseball, soccer or basketball teams for children were becoming in vogue and if/when mine wanted to play, we made that possible. We gave my daughter ballet and gymnastic lessons for as long as they held her interest. I hosted birthday parties as we could for family and friends. We spent summer weekends with the kids at my in-laws trailer at the lake where the kids learned to ski and hunted for arrowheads with their dad. We discovered timeshares and sacrificed so our family could take vacations together. My husband would take the children down to the game center so they could play Ms. PacMan. Times were hard but we enjoyed our children greatly and supported each child as best we could in their educational and career pursuits. Certainly we would have loved to write the big checks for college, but that wasn’t it the cards for us. So I prayed and prayed. And God provided for each of the children–they are well educated, highly motivated, hard-working, successful men and women. God definitely took up any slack from our part.
I see our children going the extra mile for their children–giving them everything within their ability. It’s what we parents do. Technology has added a new dimension to entertainment and communication, but it comes at a cost. I love the opportunities set forth for my grandchildren to grow and develop their minds, relationships, careers and future. From my humble home in East Texas it would have been impossible to imagine the world my grandchildren would grow up in and enjoy. And I thank God for His blessings upon my children and grandchildren.
Each generation can look back and be grateful for the sacrifices each made so they could have a better future or they can look back with criticism and a sense of entitlement–we deserved more. Unfortunately having everything we desire handed to us can be detrimental. For example, a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly. It stays in the cocoon and presses against it so that it develops and becomes strong enough to fly when it breaks free. If you cut the cocoon open to set it free, it will perish and die. There is something about working for what they want, sharing in the cost of their personal growth and development, that strengthens a young person. So parents, don’t feel guilty if you can’t give your children everything the neighbors can give their children. Do what you can, but most of all teach your children values, morals, right from wrong, discretion and fairness, truth and justice, modesty and morality. . .and teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and mind.
One of the greatest gifts each generation can pass on to the next is an attitude of gratitude. What attitudes are you teaching your children?
“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” ― Brené Brown