Sunday, October 14, 2012


We were supposed to go out of town for the weekend.  Rob and I were not feeling well, so we cancelled the trip.  My girls pouted, because their weekend was "ruined."  My son had wanted to stay home anyway and play golf with his dad.  It rained over the weekend and the golf course was too wet to play.  Perturbed, my son jumped in the pouting pool with his sisters.  Regardless that the course was closed, he asked if he could call to see if they would open for him.  "Sure you can; you are entitled and how dare them close the course when you want to play,"  I thought facetiously, but answered, "No."  Was this the innocence of a nine-year-old boy or was this a seemingly entitled absurdity?   
We had taken pride in not giving our children everything they want. The kids have chores and they save their money when they want a Lego set or doll on the shelf at the store.  They know not to ask for every little trinket in the checkout line (which by the way, marketing firms study our habits and know exactly what people tend to pick up and what toys children grab upon checking out.  Why is there a Cinderella doll the size of a finger in the check-out line which costs five dollars?  Because data shows we buy them.)
We were proud we didn't buy our kids new bikes, as soon as theirs broke.  My son's bike is too small for his legs and the tires have no tread.  Before he reaches the school each morning, he has to stop and reattach the chain.  My daughter's bike, also too small, is missing a peddle.  We decided to wait and get new bikes for Christmas, believing that this 'delayed gratification' would be of value.  As our pride welled up that we were teaching such valuable lessons, our children went and acted 'entitled.'  (The funny thing is, why are we taking pride in something that is really just good ol' Grandmaw common sense?  Whenever you are puffed up on the perch of pride, the imminent fall is coming.)
Culture tells us we have a right to new things right now, a right to the best schools, preferential treatment and the 'good life.'  At least it's not our fault our kids acted entitled; phewww, I'm so relieved, that it is somebody elses fault!  A part of 'entitlement' is that it is never our fault.  We have become articulate in the language of blame, grievances and complaints.  Maybe our culture and our government tell us we are entitled, but it is not their fault when my children are grown and think somebody owes them or they have a right to the 'good life.'  Rob and I, knowingly or unknowingly, allowed this mentality to be woven into the developing fibers of their young lives.  Are Rob and I caught in a wave of entitlement that we don't even know we are swimming with?   Do we even know how to swim against it? 
We concluded that our family intuitively believes we are entitled to certain things.  We think we are entitled to heat and air condition; fresh running water and clean air;  a dishwasher, a dryer, a washing machine, a plethora of electronics and many other things.  We feel entitled to family trips and fun excursions.  And even with these things, we grumble that something is not working fast enough or isn't 'fun' enough.  So, maybe we won't buy a new toy or bike or a trinket in the check-out line, but there are plenty of ways we are teaching our children to feel entitled.
When I woke one morning last week, it was so cold.  Without thinking, I immediately walked over to the heater and turned it on, because I certainly can't tolerate a little bit of discomfort.  Why do I think I am so entitled to be comfortable; not too hot and not too cold?  It sounds like Goldilocks.  Good grief, if you have been wandering in the woods, be grateful for the bowl of porridge and a bed to sleep on.  I turned off the heater and put on a sweater and socks.
Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)  What does Jesus mean when he says, "deny?"  I wonder with such abundance in America (an abundance of things, not money) do our morals show that we 'deny' ourselves anything?  Our sixteen trillion dollar debt indicates 'no.'

My concern is for my children's hearts and their future. My desire is to understand how we can stop feeding the beast of entitlement; a beast that will never be satisfied; never. There will always be a new electronic or outfit or toy that the beast is starving to devour.  Regardless, if we have money in our pocket or not, we are all feeding the beast.  If we continue to pass this mentality on to succeeding generations, the beast will become a Tsunami and the devastation it will leave is incomprehensible.   
Recently, I finished a book called, "To End All Wars" which gives an account of the events of WWI. Currently, I am reading a book called, "The Zookeeper's Wife;" set in Poland during WWII.  The stories of the survivors and the devastation they endured is incredulous.  During wartime, people felt lucky to be alive with a bowl of oats, a glass of water and a small corner to crouch and hide.  Goldilocks wouldn't have survived;  honestly, neither would I, or my kids, or much of America.  The hard work and skills necessary for survival are not embedded in us.  We have so many modern conveniences, that we lack the struggles which shape and form us into grateful and hardworking people. God's will for man is to work and not be idle. Paul urged, "In the Lord Jesus Christ, earn the bread you eat...never tire of doing what is right." (2 Thessalonians 3:12,13) God intends for us to have a work-oriented life.  In the Garden, before the fall and corruption of sin, "the Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (Genesis 2:15)

The Bible is clear about work.  But, what are we working so hard for? more stuff? the easy life?  Somehow, it just doesn't seem that a bunch of stuff and the 'easy life' go hand in hand with the character of Jesus.  God blesses us with conveniences, but have we become so idle and dependant on them, that we blindly accept them as guarantees?

To swim off the wave of entitlement, we all agreed to have an 'electronic free' week; no IPad, IPhone, ITunes or IMac (Isn't it ironic they all begin with "I?") no television, radio, or electronic book.  This wasn't a punishment for our children.  It was to reveal how entitled we all feel to have things that are such luxuries, and things we forget are absolute blessings from the Lord. 
 We desire for our children to grow into adults with hearts of thankfulness and a deeply embedded work ethic; however, we are not attacking the issue of entitlement as aggressively as we should; especially when we are guilty of it (on a personal level, cultural level and a governmental level.)   "In the end, it's the entitled who, however rich, are truly poor.  Instead of knowing life as a gift, life turns into something that is taken for granted--or worse, begrudged.  That's real poverty, and no sense of entitlement can alleviate it."  Anthony Robinson 'The Unfortunate Age of Entitlement in America'

Next time you see that little Cinderella plastic doll in the check-out line, don't buy it, but consider this: Cindy certainly knows how to work and she sings while she does it.

Our steps toward freedom from entitlement:
1. Recognize it and pray for freedom.
2.  Have a right relationship with our Lord to avoid a focus on 'self.'
3.  Consider the luxuries we have and deny the over-abundant use and dependence.  These things are not guarantees.
4.  Develop and implement solid work values and an 'earning' mentality over an 'entitled' mentality.
5. Consider what we save our money for and what we spend it on.  We may earn and save, but are we being good stewards of our money and spending it wisely, or do we spend it on the latest thing?
5.  Consider work related and productive tasks when disciplining children (ex. picking up a bucket of acorns in the driveway; washing windows, wiping baseboards.)

Questions for my children:
1. What do you feel entitled to?
2. When something goes wrong, whose fault is it?
3.  What would Jesus think, when you feel you must have the latest toy?
4. Are relationships more important than things?
5. What does God say about being idle and entitled?
6. What does God say about work?
7. How have you felt (or acted) without electronics this week?   

  Next week I will share about our electronic 'free' week and what my children had to say about it.

I hope you have a beautiful and blessed week!

Disclaimer:  We do not have all the 'I' electronics; this was added for emphasis.  My son plays golf at the local college where walking nine holes costs ten dollars.  His story was also embelished a bit (a little bit.)
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Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

Christie, I always enjoy your Sunday posts and your post about parenting. While we have no guarantees, you certainly sound like you are on the right track to me.My kids are a little older having just graduated from college this year. While far from perfect, I think that they get it now. My daughter just started a blog and posted on taking things for granted. If you have a chance, check it out.
I can't wait to read about your electronic free week!

Maureen Wyatt said...

It is a serious issue that you are addressing. When more is still not enough, it's time to take stock of priorities. I'm shocked at the number of people who can't imagine life without cable, let alone without basic necessities! ~ Maureen

Margitta said...

Thanks for this post, Christie!

Sue said...

This is an important post Christie. I, too, often read about WWII and can't imagine any of us surviving that for long. I don't know the answer but I think you are on the right track. Awareness is half the battle sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Christie: I always glean so much from your Sunday are such an inspiration to me and I am thankful for your desire to raise your children in the way they should go...God's Word is priceless and teaches us all so much...even provides second chances for Grandmas like me to make a difference in the lives of my "Grands" even though I didn't do all the right things with my childen....thank you for your spiritual insight...may God continue to bless you and your precious family. --Marti

Marsha said...

Amen! Nellie Olson was the perfect choice.
I'm reading my Dad's WWII letters. He wrote home to his parents several times a week during his four years of service. In a ltter I read last week, he described his Christmas day dinner (1944) while on the tiny island of Biak in the Pacific. He wrote that he was disappointed that some of the food was cold. And in the very next sentance states that he is so much better off than thousnads of others.

Yes, we are all so much better off than so many others.
Thank you for the post.

Marsha said...

I forgot to add that I have had my daughter pick up a two gallon bucket of acorns as discipline. I don't like stepping on the acorns out in the yard and when my daughter has to pick them up, it gives her plenty of time to think about what she did that was wrong.

Unknown said...

Christie - First you are a remarkable writer. But more importantly this post is an excellent reminder of how we are all a bit of a "Goldilocks". Ok, maybe not just a "bit" but a lot. I am printing this off and sharing it with my children this week. But I must admit I needed to hear it as much as they need to. I have been entrusted with so much and what is it that I do for my Sweet Savior?!? What are we working so hard for, is it just "more"? more stuff, more what? I want more Jesus!! But sadly too often I loose sight of that! I AM Goldilocks :( ugh!!
Thanks so much for the gentle reminder that poverty is not about being "rich" or "poor" but a mater of the heart!
In Him - Sara

Christy said...

Loved this. I am continually striving to teach my daughter to have a heart of gratitude. Fighting against "the beast of entitlement feelings" is a struggle, but certainly worth our efforts! I love reading your posts. May God bless you and yours.

Art and Sand said...

Thanks for the thought provoking post.

I teach in a low socio-economic level middle school where every student gets free lunch. It amazes me the amount of food they throw away each day. They walk from the lunch line to the trash can, keep only what they want and complain about the food.

My own children (who grew up without television) have every "i" item there is. I do also, but I waited to purchase them untilI could justify the need.

My husband and I wait to buy things, pay cash and live well below our means. We developed our lifestyle by serving in the Peace Corps in Jamaica and seeing true poverty. My Jamaican students were incredibly poor - didn't even know what a ball was the first time my husband tossed one to them - but they were incredibly happy and at peace. They didn't know what they didn't have and were content with little things.

I have long believed that if all Americans had to spend some time living/working in a third world country, they would make better citizens.

Vee said...

I am visiting from Deb's Bungalow where your home is being featured. This post is incredible on so many levels. I'd only add one tiny thing: don't wonder what Jesus would think, ask Him.

You have a beautiful home and family. Thank you for sharing them with your readers.

Many blessings to you...

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