Editor’s note: Parent polls from a number of sources indicate that the most worried-about parenting challenge of all is the entitlement attitudes of today’s kids.  Responding to this concern, the Eyres have undertaken a multi-part series on entitlement which will appear here in the pages of Meridian each Monday.

Many readers saw and participated in the poll last week about what is the biggest problem or challenge faced by kids (and their parents) in today’s world.  (click here if you missed it).

The results were quite remarkable!  More than half of the parents responding were most worried about ENTITLEMENT!  (We combined those voting for “entitlement” and those voting with “excessive technology” which, let’s face it, is just another way of saying entitlement—entitlement to all things electronic!)  Other audience polls and publication polls have put the percentage of parents most worried about entitlement at more than 65%!

We have been intrigued and surprised by the size of these majorities, and we have also been pleased, since the title of our new book, being released by Penguin this Fall is The Entitlement Trap.

Think about it: From half to two thirds of parents, with no explanation or discussion, voted for Entitlement as the biggest problem of this generation of kids and the biggest worry for this generation of parents.

We ask our audiences why?  Their answers are fascinating:

“Entitlement leads to low motivation.”

“Kids they deserve everything and don’t have to earn anything.”

“It makes them disrespectful.”

“They don’t know how to work.”

“They think they have to have everything their friends have.”

“It’s the reason for all the other problems on the list, they think they can do whatever they want.”

Perhaps the biggest problem with entitlement is that under its illusions, there seem to be no real consequences in life and no motivation to work for anything.  Someone will always bail you out, get you off the hook, buy you a new one, make excuses for you, give you another chance, pay your debt, and hand you what you ask for.

Entitlement is a double edged sword (or a double-jawed trap) for kids. On one edge it gives kids all that they don’t need—indulgence, dullness, conceit, and laziness; and on the backswing, it takes from them everything they do need—initiative, independence, inventiveness, pride, responsibility, and a chance to really work for things and to build their own sense of fulfillment and self-esteem.

What do you think?  Take the new reader poll on the home page, and we will continue with this topic next Monday.  In fact, this will be the beginning of a whole Meridian series on entitlement and on what we as parents can do about it.

If you have stories or illustrations of an entitlement attitude among kids, send it to us at the “contact us” click on valuesparenting.com.

Readers Poll:

Is an attitude of Entitlement a bigger problem with this generation of kids than with previous generations?

  • Yes
  • No

Who is most to blame for the sense of entitlement today’s kids feel?

  • Government and its welfare systems, bail outs, national debt and deficit spending
  • Banks, financial institutions and too much debt throughout society
  • Media and Advertising, trying to get us to want more and to live beyond our means
  • Parents who give their kids too much and set a bad example

The Eyres recently released new book is THE ENTITLEMENT TRAP How to Rescue Your Child with a new Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership*. They are the founders of Joy Schools and of valuesparenting.com and the authors of numerous best-selling books on marriage, parenting and family.  Their mission statement, developed while presiding over the England London South Mission, is FORTIFY FAMILIES by celebrating commitment, popularizing parenting, bolstering balance, and validating values. You can visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or www.valuesparenting.com  This is the first article in an every-Monday series on Parenting in today’s new world

*Meridian Readers can now pre order The Entitlement Trap at a 33% discount.  See details at www.valuesparenting.com.