My daughter Leanne met a nice older man during her time of ballroom dancing. He has since become a part of our family. We invite him for family parties, holidays and such. He has no family living close by. He is Chinese and I sense that because of the language barrier most people don’t have patiences to deal with communication issues. Our family however had no problem. When he came to our home last year for Thanksgiving dinner he told us this was his first Thanksgiving (after 20 years living in this country, no one had invited him!). He also told another one of our daughters that Leanne was the nicest person he had ever met. All she did was extend her hand in friendship. Amazing what that can do for a person’s life. Now he is friends with all of our family and no holiday or family get together would be complete without him.
But what does this have to do with the title of this article? Well he said to Leanne one time (after meeting many of her siblings), how is it your parents have raised so many children without a sense of entitlement? I was taken aback when Leanne told me this. I never really thought about it. It is not like I set out to raise children that did not expect that anyone or any institution owed them something. But that is what I have. I have children, all of them, that know that if they want something in life it is not someone else’s responsibility to give that to them.
Maybe because we raised 8 children on one income we were only able to give our children what they needed and not every want and desire they had. My husband makes a comfortable income, maybe not what most people feel they could raise a family on, but comfortable enough for us. But it did not afford to give our children all their dreams in life. My daughter Hannah was telling her husband that .. “yes, we had everything we needed but if we wanted something beyond that we had to work for it” (her husband’s comment by the way was.. “that is the way it should be”). She remembers babysitting a house full of children for $5 an hour and was thankful for the opportunity. She was able to purchase some fun things she wanted. She never expected that we would provide that for her. The same is true for the rest of her siblings. Emily and Leanne raised 70 chickens and took care of them and sold their eggs for a profit so they could acquire the things they wanted. Jacob worked for neighbors (several of them) doing everything from yard work, bucking hay in the summer, painting fences to cutting wood and doing carpentry work. He learned the value of work and more importantly the value of working for what you want. Not expecting it is someone else’s responsibility to provide that for him.
Today my children have found ways to put themselves through college, find employment, understand the value of working hard for what you want and not expecting that anyone owes you anything in life. Life is what you make it. And do the best you can with what you have to make happen what you want.
If you want to raise children that do not feel that the world owes them anything, teach them to work. Start at home and teach them to participate in everyday life. Teach them to work for what they desire. At 12 my sons were mowing our lawns and working around our property, ready to mow the neighbor’s lawn, pick weeds, paint fences and more. My girls did child care, housekeeping and watching an elderly family member for a friend, raised hens and sold eggs. They learned the value of work as well as working for your goals and dreams.
One thing I see a lot of today is busyness. Today children and teenagers are rushed to and fro to every type of activity while mom becomes worn out and the paycheck can’t stretch far enough. I know there are things that most children experience today that my children did not. And I know these things can enrich a child’s life. In moderation I’m sure they are fine. Personally with the number of children I have had there was just not the dollars to afford for each child to have these types of experiences (nor did I have the energy to be taking several children in several different directions constantly). At times I wondered if my children were missing out. Of course they did a few things as time, opportunity and finances allowed. But mostly they did not have the modern day experience of participating in sports, karate, dance, scouts, 4H, and so on.
Maybe this is why as my children grew into their teenage years they were not looking to me to make things happen in their lives. They figured out how to do it themselves. How to start a business, how to be a good employee (for the neighbors, you want to work hard so they call you back :), how to put themselves through college, how to achieve their dreams and not to feel that anyone owed this to them.
We are different for sure, we don’t keep up the "Joneses" (and make no apologies for this), we don’t get stressed when we don’t do things the same way most of our neighbors do it with their kids, we march to our own drum beat, and it looks different. But as I sit back and look over the years of raising my children I have to say I don’t feel like we did it wrong, I like the results. I see kids (now adults) that know how to work, and have worked for what they want in life, and as adults, lead productive lives and don’t expect that anyone owes them anything… and most of all my kids like the results too. None of my children feel they missed out on anything. They’ve told me over and over, they loved their childhood and have loved that they learned how to work for what they want and how to achieve their goals in life.
Now I’m at the other end, seeing the results of raising my children (well, almost, I still have a couple chicks in the nest :). And I like what I see. If you want to raise children in this day and age that will work for what they want in life and not feel that the world owes them anything.. teach them to work, teach them to serve, teach them to love, teach them to strive for and work for their goals. They will learn so much from the process and achieve their dreams in life, if they desire to do this (there is always a "free will" going on, but if they know that they are responsible to make happen what they want to happen in life, it changes free will just a bit). But if every want and desire is given to them, they will grow up feeling that “someone” owes this to them. At least that is my personal opinion from my own experiences. And if I had it to do all over again, I would do it just the same way.