How to keep from feeling entitled

Dear Daughter,

I read an article the other day about how current college students are part of the Entitlement Generation. This means they feel entitled to good grades and a hefty paycheck, even if they haven’t put in the hard work to earn such rewards. They complain when professors give them a low grade, and when it comes time to search for a post-college job, the article says many of them feel they deserve “high salaries and quick promotions. On average, they expected a starting salary of $53,000 a year.”

This mentality has led to a general disrespect of authority, and well, to put it bluntly, it’s turned our young adults into punks. I’m only a decade or so older than them, and even I have noticed that.

The writer of the article blames parents, and she might be onto something. “The entitlement mindset… came from a generation of adults who believed that kids should never be allowed to fail, or told the truth about their abilities, or learn that getting what you want is sometimes hard.”

I don’t think parents wanted their children to be spoiled punks; they wanted their kids to feel secure about their academic or athletic performance, and to stick up for themselves when they’re being treated unjustly. These are good lessons to teach a child but only to an extent. I find myself falling into this way of thinking with you sometimes, and now my eyes are opened to the consequences of such parenting.

Daughter, in order for you to truly succeed in life, here’s what you need to know…

You will be great at some things and really, stinkin’ bad at others. Acknowledge your weaknesses and focus on and work hard at your strengths. (Especially if it ends up getting you a free ride to college! Please?) When I say “work hard,” I mean it. Don’t spend just an average amount of time and effort and expect greatness. Invest in your strengths and interests; give them the time that they deserve.

For those things that you dislike but are forced to do, i.e. calculus or physics, (maybe you’ll like those subjects but they were the bane of my existence), work just as hard as you would at the subjects you do enjoy. Learn what it takes to do well at something that doesn’t come naturally to you. This is a humbling practice, but in the end you might find it’s even more rewarding than succeeding at the easy stuff.

Respect. Your. Elders. Every once in a blue moon a teacher will give you a grade that’s truly unfair, but that rarely ever happens. If you get a D on a test, it’s because you deserve it. Work hard so that you don’t get any Ds, but even if you do, don’t go whining about it to the teacher. Own up to the fact that he or she knows way more than you do and gave you the grade you deserved. When it comes to sports or some other activity, put in the work that your coach requires of you. Don’t ever get too big for your britches and think you don’t need to pay your dues. You’re not that good.

In the meantime, I promise to do a better job of keepin’ it real. (In love, of course.) I’ll encourage you where you need encouraging and I’ll rebuke you where you need rebuking. Because if you grow up thinking you deserve only the best and will throw a fit when you don’t get that, you’re in for a tough life, my dear.

Love,
Mom

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Mary
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 10:24:24

    Julie…such insight at your young age. I totally agree with your assessment of the youth of today…and the parents of today. If parents would only realize that children need them to be “real”, to be parents, not friends. To teach what life is about…all of life…not just the good stuff. It is the most difficult thing in life to see your child be in pain, or to fail at somethingl..but, that is growth, and that is life. The lesson is to work to overcome and to be able to deal with all situations…this builds confidence and understanding and respect. Good for you that you get it!

    Reply

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