Family is a Give and Take
A family functions best when everyone contributes. We all can play a part. It is clear that mom and dad have bigger parts when the child is young but even a toddler can learn to contribute to the function of the family. As a child gets older they can be responsible to contribute more and more. This is how we avoid raising teenagers who feel entitled.
There are many families where entitlement is a major problem in the home. Parents call for help frustrated with the demands of their teenager. When a teenager expects their parents to do everything for them and they don’t contribute to the well being of the family then this is a behavior that frustrates those around them and a belief that will not serve them well out in the “real world”.
When a child is young, this is the time to start training them, giving them small jobs to do. Young children don’t complain about helping, they like to contribute and feel important. At dinner time you can ask them to put the napkins on the table or when you are cleaning, give them a small broom and ask them to sweep up. I know they may not do a good job, and honestly it would probably just be easier to do it yourself but you are teaching them to contribute and the payoff will come later and you will be glad you didn’t just do it all yourself.
They need to learn that there is a balance between their own needs and wishes and those of others in the home and ultimately in society. If your teenager asks you to drive them to the movies and expects you to hand them $20 that may be fine if they have learned to be helpful at home but why are we handing our children money and driving them all over when they complain about washing their dishes or feeding the dog? Make sure they understand that there needs to be a give and take in a family. It is not all take. If they expect you to be understanding of what they want then teach them to be understanding of the needs of the family, too.
If your teen is not used to this concept then you will need to be strong as you teach them. They will understand this new idea and may even agree as you are taking them to the movies and giving them the $20. But when you later ask them to do the dishes after dinner that is when the challenge begins. Stand strong. If they choose not to do the dishes it doesn’t have to be a fight just remind them of this the next time they need something. You need to stop giving if they are not giving. They will soon see what they need to do. Your job is to be consistent and clear. This is how a family works and truthfully this is how the world works. There is always a give and take.
Written by Lisa Strong
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