Parenting Pitfall # 1: Cater to his/her every need--a sure way create entitlement issues in your kids

Parents don't do their children any favors when they reward an entitlement mentality in the home. When parents provide their children with unwarranted reinforcement, they stagnate their children’s coping capacity for handling the future realities of what it takes to be a successful young adult.  Recent studies show that this new "entitled generation" display high rates of mental health problems, loneliness, isolation and failure in their young marriages.

Hyper-vigilant parents who attempt to solve every problem for their child and can’t fathom the thought of their child being uncomfortable are doing them no favors.  Too many of these parents self-deceive and believe they are engaged in good parenting. Children of hyper-vigilant parents who have become accustomed to having the things they desire, often times, instantaneously, become entitled.  Over time, they develop a low frustration tolerance, a lack of patience, and a complete inability to deal with discomfort of any type on any level.

Too many parents today are going to great lengths to take the struggles out of life for their children. Isn’t this what good, caring parents do? Unfortunately, parental hyper-vigilance tends to make children more fragile, rather than more equipped, which explains why many of today’s youth are increasingly incapable of managing demands of life.

Some experts have labeled the youth of today as the "entitled generation".  Many teens today have become accustomed to getting what they want immediately.  Delaying gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward.  Many teens today have a desire for nice things, but they don’t want to work hard for the money to obtain nice things. Too many struggle with entitlement believing that they “deserve it” or “they are owed it”.

  “Compared to previous generations, recent high-school graduates are more likely to want lots of money and nice things but less likely to say they’re willing to work hard to earn them,” according to the author of a recent study on the topic of entitlement among the rising generation. “That type of ‘fantasy gap’ is consistent with other studies showing a generational increase in narcissism and entitlement.”

A prime example of this is the number of elementary aged and middle school youth who have their own smart phones, but do absolutely nothing to earn the privilege of the device.  Those few kids who don’t have a smart phone, feel deprived and many attempt to convince their parents of this. The pressures in middle school only get worse in high school as kids no longer simply ask for a cell phone, but for a car, a personal laptop and spending cash at will.  Teen entitlement and inability to delay gratification are major problems in today’s culture.

Family Bootcamp is the ideal intervention for assisting parents to eliminate the entitlement mentality from their teens and provide teens with a first-hand experience in delaying gratification.  Upon arriving at the Family Bootcamp offices, the ceremonial “trade” happens where the teen hands over his/her smart phone and other hand held digital devices, and its place is given a stainless steel cooking pot which will be used for cooking meals on a camp fire for the next five days while the teen experiences life unplugged from technology and learning to survive in the high desert of Utah.  Those five days allow the teen to explore who he/she outside of their technology, friends and other material items for which they had previously developed a sense of entitlement.  Without these dependencies to hide behind, teens have to face who they really are, which sometimes can be an uncomfortable realization.

A mistaken belief many parents possess is assuming that children can't handle difficult situations. Too often parents assume that if kids start getting into difficulty they need to rush in and do it for them, rather than let them flounder a bit and learn from it.   Family Bootcamp allows children to navigate a difficult situation on their own.

There is a lesson in this for all parents.  Those who allow their kids to find a way to deal with life's day-to-day stresses by themselves are helping them develop resilience and coping strategies.  The goal of parenting is to raise an independent human being, capable of managing the demands of life.  At some point in their childhood, most kids will be forced to confront their own mediocrity.

What style of parenting is best for dealing with teens?

In our work with teens, this is a question we frequently are asked by parents who are struggling with how to best manage a difficult teen.  While there is not a “one size fits all” fits all approach to parenting teens, it is safe to state that most parenting experts agree that an Authoritative approach to parenting tends to be effective in most circumstances.  To help you understand authoritative parenting, we have listed the four most common categories of parenting below to refresh your memory about different parenting styles:

Authoritarian Parenting

In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Children’s unwilling to follow the rules usually results in some form of punishment.  Typically, authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply state, "Because I said so." Or “Because I am the parent.”  Typically Authoritarian parents  have high expectations, but are not responsive to their children.

Authoritative Parenting

Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, Authoritative parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are more responsive to their children and willing to entertain  questions and dialogue. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. Permissive parents tend to be more responsive than demanding. They tend to be lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable autonomy and usually avoid confrontation.  Permissive parents tend to be nurturing and communicative with their children; however, they often make the damaging mistake of taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent.

Uninvolved Parenting

An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill the child's basic needs, they are generally detached from their teen's life.  As teens become independent and separate from their parents, uninvolved parents become even more detached. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect tOptionshe needs of their children.