Monday, July 13, 2009

Looking the Gift Horse in the Mouth

Where did I go wrong?

I have tried to be a prudent parent. I don't think I've indulged my kids too much. I say "no" all the time. I actually made them buy their own happy meals last time we went to McDonald's. They have chores and responsibilities and bedtimes.

A favorite family saying is "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit."

So I would like to know why, when I offer to do something nice for my kids, something that is a bit of a sacrifice for me but that I'm willing to do because I love my children and want them to have good experiences, they whine and complain and demand more.

Here are the latest kid comments that have left me, mouth agape, silently questioning my parenting skills:

When I told Ethan I was going to get a sitter so he and I could go see the new Harry Potter Movie together this week the first thing he said was, "You have to buy me popcorn." I quickly responded, "I do not have to buy you popcorn," which resulted in an argument. I don't even want to take him to the movie now.

When I told the kids I wanted to take them to the beach, including stopping at our favorite beach restaurant for a meal, Ethan said, "You have to give me ten dollars for the arcade." Again, I replied, "I most certainly do not. That is why I give you an allowance." An argument followed.

When I told the boys I would buy them a See's Candy lollipop if they stayed with me and didn't run off in the mall, Isaac said, "I want two!"

I hate to play the, "when I was a kid" card, but when I was a kid, I was thrilled to get anything extra and knew that if I complained, I might get nothing at all. I consequently kept my mouth shut except to say, "thank you" as many times as I could. (Mom, Dad? Care to back me up on this one?)

Why do my kids have this disturbing sense of entitlement?

I've taught them please and thank-you which they practice every time they get a free cookie from the grocery store bakery. They write thank-you notes (mostly) when they get gifts. I always point out the people in their life who serve them, like scout leaders, coaches and teachers, and make sure my kids realize the time these people spend with them is a gift they should express thanks for.

So what's up with the spoiled brat routine?

What happened to, "Thanks mom, you're the greatest."


Emily Laing said...

Well, my friend that has 3 boys that are almost old enough to leave the house, pointed out to me that the Testosterone is flowing at rampant speed now. So boys that were previously kind, become Werewolves over night. As for the candy and Issac, I have one of those kids too. They are born salesman and know how to get what they want. My aunt asked my 5 year old to help her clear the tables at a party and she offered him a dollar, he said "I'll do it for 2." The kid is quick I tell you! I want to strangle him most days but I will never fear for him being taken advantage of...Ethan will learn to reign in his newly budding testosterone eventually...I'm in the same boat and I want to send my child to the Pineapple plantations! What happened to our sweet little boys?

Gwendolyn Oliphant said...

I have had a similar experience. A couple of years ago Baxter took Julia, Heather's oldest daughter, to Disney on Ice in Salt Lake City for her birthday. The tickets weren't cheap. We thought we were giving her a great present. At the performance some vendor came buy with overpriced candy and toys and Julia said she wanted us to buy her one. Well, we didn't. After the performance we asked her if she had a good time and the only thing she said was, "You didn't buy me a toy." Needless to say little Julia hasn't received any presents from us since.

Heather said...

Ditto to all of that!!!! I try as well to hold out from giving them too much or having them work for it and it still doesn't seem to work. I'm frustrated! I had to laugh at your post because that is EXACTLY what we've been going through! Is it a summer syndrome?Maybe Military school would help? Or a trip to Africa?

Debbie said...

Disclaimer first...I am very aware I am not a parent. However, I have worked with the youth for 13 years, so you would hope thru trial and error and the power of observation I would have picked up on a few things.

In my opinion, they aren't afraid of you. The kids who are grateful for any scrap their parents give them are a little or a lot afraid of their parents. However, there are CERTAINLY a whole list of disadvantages if your kids are afraid of you! (Number one in my opinion is that they rebell, hide things and lie to you a lot more often. Opps, I guess that was technically reason number 1, 2 and 3)! So maybe it's not so bad when they ask you for more! My mom used to say I played lawyer with her! It is challenging that kids are always testing boundaries!

I also wonder if you were as grateful to your parents as you remember! I'm SURE you had your moments too! ;)

Afton said...

Glimmer of hope: Tonight I was grabbing a treat for a YW with a birthday and in the check out line they had some candy on sale. I brought it home to the boys and said, "I wasn't going to get you anything, but when I saw this, I thought you boys might like it."

Two out of three told me "thank you" and Jonah even said, "thank you for thinking of us mom."

Sigh...I love being a mom.

Marah said...

Debbie, good point. A bright spot for me.

Coincidentally, I threw a fit this morning because I had one too many instances of children trashing my house, complaining, whining, etc. We are going to have a lot of tough love around here today.

Afton, I also think you don't remember your childhood perfectly--all children do this to the extent that they can.

But I wish they wouldn't!