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Have We Ruined Our Grandchildren Through Entitlements?

By Neale Godfrey

As a grandparent your biggest joy is to provide your grandchild with all of the love and protection in the world.  One of your fears is: Will they be able to survive in this world that is presenting them with so many economic challenges?  Skyrocketing costs of education, impossible student debt levels, staggering home prices, I can go on, but I’m depressing myself! We all remember the days when we could work our way through college.  I did, and frankly, it wasn’t that big a sacrifice.  Today, it is impossible for our grandchildren to even consider that. Have we really prepared them for the current financial facts of life?

Have We Ruined Our Grandchildren Through Entitlement?

entitlementsThe resounding answer is, “Yes”.  Our grandchildren have been raised to be “entitled”.  Our offspring  whine for things and get them.  In fact, I was involved with a study that was conducted over 20 years ago about the “Nag Factor”, and sited that in my book, Money Still Doesn’t Grow On Trees. “ The study showed that kids could nag their parents nine times before the parents would give in and buy the kids what they wanted. Today it is the same, our  kids feel that they are on the earth and therefore entitled to get what they want  and this is being reinforced…by us! In our day, you may have “hit up” Mom once to nag for something then be daring enough to move on to Dad.  He may have said, “Go ask your mother.”  If that was the situation, the, ”No,” was the final answer.  Entitlement?

If your parents didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to buy you something…case closed.

 Coddling Our Kids And Setting Up False Expectations?

You know my answer is, “Yes.”  We even have come to a point in life where “Participation Trophies” are awarded to kids who are just in the game.

James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers, speaks out on participation trophies.

James Harrison, the noted Steelers Football star, “…took to social media … to lash out at the idea that his sons should receive participation trophies simply for playing sports, saying that when he found out his sons were given such trophies, he demanded that they be sent back.”  He goes on to say that he doesn’t want his kids to “… cry and whine until somebody gives (his kids) something to shut (them) up and keep (them) happy.” Harrison is certainly speaking out against, “Entitlement.” I have to agree.

With regard to money, we must present a transparent picture.  We must show our offspring that he only way to get money is to earn it, and not to just show up and whine for it.  After your grandchildren earn the money, the next step is to set priorities for its use, which is to; Share some via charity, Save some for the future and Spend some, first on “needs”, and then on “wants”.  That is how it works in real life.

Why Are We Spoiling Our Children And Grandkids?

Guilt.  As Robert Evans quipped, “When a parent shows up with an attitude of entitlement, understand that under it is a boatload of anxiety.” Guilt becomes a driving force because there are so many pulls on our time and attention. We, in lots of circumstances do not have the luxury to be stay-at-home parents.  Many women and men are working.  According to Catalyst, their research has shown that, “Almost 70% of all women in 2013 with children under 18 were in the labor force.”   Also, their findings show that, “In 2013, more than 90% of men with children under 18 were in the labor force.” This means that working parents have less time to spend with their offspring and we rightfully are torn and feel guilt.  Guilt is a legitimate emotion in our day and age.  Conflicting demands on our time is real.  Divorce is real –and the resulting pull of two separate households.  As a parent, our ex may well be indulging the kids in ways that you can’t.  entitlementsGrandparents may be indulging the grandkids because their time is also at a premium and “stuff” may be easier to give than “time.” Peer pressure is also a pull which reinforces our feelings of guilt.  Our kids and grandkids may have friends whose parents and grandparents get them things you won’t.

Hold On To Your Values

Stick to the rules that uphold your core values.  Remember, that it’s never always going to be fair in life.  Is it fair that one of your coworkers earns more money for less work?  Is it fair that some people have gotten sick?  Is it fair that there are natural disasters?  The grass will always be greener in the next pasture.  It’s time to have that talk with your grandchildren.

What To Do?

I offer parents and grandparents ways to get all children involved in learning real money lessons.  I put young ones on an allowance at age three, when they start saying, “I want, I want.”  They learn that there are some chores for which they do not earn money, which I call, Citizen of the Household Chores. They learn that as a good citizen of the household, or community, you pitch in and help for no remuneration.  They then do Work-for-Pay Chores, and earn a weekly paycheck.  The budget that I discussed earlier is a lifelong habit you want them to learn, as well.

imagesNeale Godfrey

I also have 27 books for parents, grandparents and kids at home and at school to keep learning about money.  entitlementMoney Doesn’t Grow On Trees: A Parent’s Guide To Raising Financially Responsible Children, the New York Times #1 Best Seller, is the basic book to help you begin to combat the entitlement syndrome. I also have created three mobile video gaming apps for young children, ages 5-10.  I’ve teamed up with the charity, Heifer International to create; Green$treets: Heifer International to bridge the virtual world of gameplay with the real world of giving.


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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