I took Liam and Ava to the grocery store the other day as our afternoon outing. I actually really love going to the grocery store as it is a time where they have my undivided attention and I have theirs. This trip however ended up to be quite the life lesson for my kids.
When we arrived at the grocery store we entered in at the produce section. Ava excitedly pointed to the grapes and Liam asked for bananas. I then got some tomatoes and moved over to the deli counter. We were the next in line and while we waited I listed to Liam and Ava all of the other items we needed. Next to us were a mother and daughter talking quietly to each other. Our number was called and I placed my order. I then realized the daughter was now yelling at her mother. It was unclear at this point what the issue was, but she did say to her mother, “You have to. You owe me this.” I was stunned.
You have to. You owe me this. For so many reasons this statement struck a chord with me. First of all there is no please, or thank you. No showing of appreciation. It wasn’t requested it was demanded. Second of all, last time I looked a mother, parent or quite frankly anyone was never required to do anything. This sense of entitlement this young woman had was astonishing. Liam then in his innocent but loud way asked, “Why are they yelling?” Nervously I told Liam they were having a disagreement. At this point, the mother and daughter got their order and walked away still in their heated argument.
Now Liam is all about why. Why were they yelling? Why was the daughter upset? I tried to explain to him it is my job to provide and make sure his needs are being met; to feed, clothe, and keep him warm and safe. Anything beyond that isn’t something he needed but wanted. It’s always nice to get a special treat or a new train but it is not something I needed to do. I then said to Liam if mommy or daddy does decide to do something special you should always be appreciative and say thank you.
I came to find out (we stood behind them on the checkout line) that the daughter’s phone broke and she Needed a new IPhone. Now I will be the first one to admit I am quite dependent on my phone and when mine broke it was a little unnerving how upset I got. I understand the want of it, but I didn’t need a new one, no more than this young girl needed a new one. On top of that, her demanding demeanor and assumption that it was due to her just as much as anything else rang true that I don’t think in general we are teaching our children the difference between need and want. On top of that, there is also a huge lack of appreciation we are not conveying to our children that is rather disconcerting. How do we ever expect our children to grow into hardworking, thankful adults who do not expect everything to be handed to them if we do not demand that from them now? Now do not get me wrong we all need help and asking for something in no means is implying that someone is not a hardworking person. But there seems to be a growing trend of teenagers and young adults that do not understand that they have to put in a little elbow grease to get what they want. If we start with our children at a young age to work towards goals and not get everything that is requested the moment they ask for it, I think we might all be a little surprised at the young adults they will become.