Are we raising a generation of entitled children?

Are we raising a generation of entitled children?

Over the dinner table my seventeen year old was telling us how he is the only kid in his class who does his own laundry. Let me point out that he does it of his own volition, and not because I make him do it. But it does make my life easier. He did say that there is one kid in his class who actually has to fold his own laundry once it’s done, and put it away. But he keeps it all in a laundry basket and just fishes out what he needs when he needs it. The rest of the kids have everything done for them.

What kind of children are we raising? This is just one example of how kids today do hardly anything for themselves and have their parents do it all – because parents keep doing it all for the kids. I am sure I do more for my kids than my mum did for me growing up, but I still see that my children have more chores and responsibilities that most others in their classes.

My eleven year old can use a washing machine, knows how to wash dishes, clean a bathroom, vacuum, cook basic dishes. He can even stuff a duvet into a duvet cover – something that apparently many children are unable to do, according to him. My kids have been packing their own school lunches since they were in first grade. We have always had a chore list with everyone’s name on it, rotating jobs week to week.

My children have always been responsible for doing their own homework and completing their school projects themselves. Yes, we are around to help and advise them – but the heavy lifting on their schoolwork? That’s for them to do. I already did plenty of homework decades ago.

My youngest recently had to submit an essay for school. They were learning how to construct a story. They had to bring in their first draft and talk to the class about it. He told me that a lot of the kids were not as familiar with their work as they should have been. I asked him why that was. He told me that “well, their parents did most of the work”. He rolled his eyes. I sat with my son while he was working on this essay. We discussed plot lines and sentence structure – but he sat down to write it. The words and ideas were all his. He asked me to edit it. I guided him with editing it himself. At the end of the day he had so much pride in this essay for which he received an excellent grade. If we do the work for our kids, how do they have pride in their own work? How can they possibly have confidence in themselves? If we award them just for showing up, what are we teaching them?

A child does not need to be burdened with doing all the chores in the house, for sure, but at eighteen when they are all grown up and ready to move out they need to know how to do at least basic housework / cooking etc – unless Mommy is going to fuss after them for all of their lives.

As a society we are more concerned with our kids being happy than we are with them being a useful member of that society. I don’t recall happiness being a requirement when I was growing up. Yes, we all want our children to have no worries, but since when is happiness higher up on the totem pole than everything else? Are we doomed to failure if our jobs don’t make us happy? So many people are stuck in jobs they hate, but they stay because they need the money so they make the best of it. Today’s kids? After five minutes they’d want to do something else because they are not happy. We need to teach them coping skills so that if they are not happy, they can still be effective, and not let their lack of satisfaction bring them down.

I want to raise my kids to be productive members of society – able to give the best of themselves to improve the world in their own unique ways. I am not interested in being a helicopter parent – not now, and certainly not for the rest of their lives. I’ve been called a mean mom, a tough mom, a lazy mom – all because I want the children to learn to be self-sufficient. These names were not lobbed at me by my children but by other parents, critical of my skills as a mom.

It’s time the pandering and spoiling end. It’s time that kids learn that they are not spoiled, entitled little people who have no responsibilities or consequences. It’s time that parents step up and parent, and stop trying to just be their child’s friend.

Published also on the Times of Israel.

Post Written by

14 Comments

  1. Backinmonsey says:

    It’s because they are boys. My my daughters’ Morah sends her home with a list of Shabbos chores she should be doing to help her mother and gives out stickers for every chore (vacuuming, setting the table…)

    No one expects boys to help around the house.

    • HaDassah says:

      I expect EVERY member of my household to help – male / female – doesn’t matter.

      Also, one of my kids got stickers for every mitzvah note he brought in to school for every chore he did. And it was encouraged by his rebbe.

  2. Vanessa says:

    Hadassah, this is a great post! I agree that a generation of entitled children is being raised, but I don’t think it’s new, just getting worse. I too give my kids chores – girls AND the boy!
    I remember in university in Israel, I had an American roommate one year, (I’m not American by birth) and she was excited to go home for vacation because her mother would “take care of me, and do my laundry, and cook for me” and thinking “wow, really? You won’t have to do anything to help while you’re there?” whereas for me, going home was to spend time with my family, but I would still be doing my own laundry, helping around the house in other ways, and it wasn’t really a vacation.
    There’s a generation of kids whose parents have done everything for them, including homework, college application essays etc., and one day those kids are going to be in the real world and someone will tell them “you did a bad job” or “you’re not a wonderful, perfect person” and they will not know what to do, other than call Mom and Dad and hope to be bailed out again…

  3. Avi Levy says:

    Couldn’t agree more. My kids all have chores. INCLUDING the boys. The boys haver to set the table, we rotate between all three of our children (2 boys and a girl), They all have to help with laundry, they all have to help clean up, they’re all learning how to cook, they all have to do their own homework, (We’re around to help), they all have to help care for the pets, they have to keep their rooms neat and they all have to do “other duties as assigned.” This of course includes helping with the Shabbat table, setting, serving, clearing and cleaning. The only distinction we make between chores for our daughter and her brothers is that the boys have to take the trash cans from the front of the house to the back after trash pick-up day. I want my daughter to expect that common courtesy from her future husband.

    We make NO EXCUSE that they don’t have to because they’re boys etc. Eventually they will have to know how to do these things to live on their own. My job is to raise an independent man/woman who can take care of themselves, be giving, compassionate and think of others. They must l;earn that happiness is not found from how easy your life is, what you have or who your friends are. It comes from knowing and loving who you are.

  4. BS”D

    Hadassah,

    A very well written post! I don’t have children yet, IY”H, but my mom got criticized when I grew up because my siblings and I needed to help out at home; we even got reported to the welfare services because of it. Anyhow, I’m very thankful to my mom who taught me these important skills; and when I’m getting Children of my own, IY”H, I’ll teach them the same! :) I think it’s better to fail for the first time with loving and caring people around instead of people who don’t care about you and your feelings at all.

    Lesholom,
    Leye-Shprintse <3

  5. Lady Lock N Load says:

    Maybe because many people have cleaning ladies so the kids don’t have to help out as much.
    Everyone has their own style of parenting and maybe there are things that they do that you don’t.
    Yes, kids should have jobs and help out etc. etc. but I don’t like to criticize other parents who have so much on their plate. We all do the best we can.

  6. Sidra says:

    Your future daughters-in-law will thank you! My husband knows how to do laundry, use a dishwasher, and clean. I thank my mother-in-law all the time.

  7. Rachel says:

    Brilliantly written Hadassah, as always. I agree whole heartedly that those of us who encourage our children and help guide them to being mature, responsible future contributing members of society are few and far between. It makes me laugh when we have company over for Shabbos and they sit mouth agape that i do not get up from the table from kiddush until it’s time for the hot food (after fish). My children (ages 5,7,9 and a mix of boys and girl) clear the kiddush cups, distribute the challah and serve the fish course – not just put it on the table, but move from person to person serving them each, ending with serving one another before sitting down. They all have household responsibilities which they are expected to fulfill as part of our family and then they have chores for which they can earn an allowance for the tasks they complete.

    I know your boys – you have done a wonderful job as their mother, and moreover as a role model of what a parent can (and imo should) do for their child.

  8. batya says:

    Hadassa, you’ve been doing a great job raising your kids. You should be proud and no doubt your future daughters-in-law will be especially grateful.

  9. the prof says:

    Too true. This is what mitt Romney spoke about during this past election when he says he was fighting against”free stuff”. The younger generation today has been way too pampered and things everything is owed / is coming to them.

  10. Dafne says:

    For my family, cleaning for shabbat and holidays was done by whomever was home. If it was my dad, fine. It wasn’t a gender thing, it was a family thing. We were all in it together. And if we wanted friends over, then we needed to take part. End of story.

    We were taught that cleaning is a matter of showing respect and appreciation. My parents bought me new clothes? By folding them neatly, and putting them away, I was showing respect. You can bet if I let those clothes lay on the floor, I was getting nothing else for a looong time.

    My parents tied in personal responsibility when we were older. If we didnt do our homework, that was on us. They weren’t going to write an excuse. If we chose not to do laundry, or iron, then guess who wore wrinkled clothing? We quickly learned by our experiences. My parents were quick to help, but not to bail us out because we were too lazy to do what we needed to do. They were (and are) friends in that they were there for us, not because they wanted to avoid confrontation. And they were not afraid of letting us fail if it meant leaning how to do better.

  11. My operating assumption was always that part of my job as a parent was to ensure that our son would be able to take care of himself and not come running home to Mommy or Daddy every time he needed his clothes washed. I’m happy to say that he once refused to rent an apartment because he saw that the bathroom was not being kept clean–we’d taught him to clean the bathroom fixtures when he was a teenager, and he wouldn’t tolerate such filth. I think it’s important for parents to understand that we’re not just raising children, we’re raising future adults. Good for you for insisting on assigning chores to your kids.

    Regarding homework, I’ve heard too many stories, from folks working for a local college, about parents called the school and trying to get their kids’ grades changed (for the better, of course). Our assumption was always that our son’s academic progress–or lack thereof–should be based on his own efforts. We were happy to hire tutors for him when necessary, but we never did his homework, nor did we ever intervene when he didn’t get a grade he was hoping for in college–and he didn’t expect us to do so. Good for you for insisting that your kids their own homework.

    Raising our kids to be productive members of society is what parenting is all about. Nobody’s going to hire, or promote, your kid unless s/he earns the job or promotion on his or her own merit. We can’t drive their cars for them. Sooner or later, our little birds are going to have to leave the nest and fly on their own. Our job is to get them ready for Independence Day.

  12. Justine says:

    I hear you! I have 2 girls who are 8 and a son who is 10 and they have just started unpacking the dishwasher and participating in the laundry fun. Thankfully they can also all make their favourite meals. Makes my life so much easier and makes me less resentful too!

  13. Justine says:

    Ironically, I just started reading a new book and this was the first page:
    “We had just finished dinner, and I (Dr Cloud) was visiting with my friend Allison, and her husband, Bruce, hen she left the dinner table to do some chores. Bruce and I continued to talk until a phone call took him away, so I went to see if I could lend Allison a hand.

    I could hear her in their fourteen-year old son Cameron’s room. I walked in to a scene that jolted me. She was cheerfully putting away clothes and sports equipment and making the bed. She struck up a conversation as if things were normal: ‘I can’t wait for you to see the pictures of our trip. It was so much -’

    ‘What are you doing?’ I asked.

    ‘I’m cleaning up Cameron’s room.’ she said. ‘What does it look like I’m doing?’

    ‘You are what?’

    ‘I told you. I’m cleaning up his room. Why are you looking at me like that?’

    All could do was share with her the vision in my head. ‘I just feel sorry for Cameron’s future wife.’

    From: Boundaries with Kids, Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend

Leave A Reply