Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Entitled

Yes, I’m talking to Dads too!

Whether in marriages, family/parenting, or in life, those who feel entitled are difficult to work with. Entitled people believe that others should meet their needs, not vice versa, and they believe they have an inherent right to have what they want. They actually cannot (or do not) untangle their wants from the needs.

I’ve seen this in marriages where one spouse works, takes care of the children, and cleans the house each day while the other lounges about at home all day. I see this in some children who, when they beg hard enough, get what they want every time from their parents. And I see this in some college students.

As a caveat, most of my college students are hard-working and do their best to make class time work. But there are always a few each semester who get under my skin by complaining about a grade when the expectations have been clear, who expect a good grade for just coming to class, or who expect exceptions to the rules because their circumstances are more special than others (even when they’re not) I have had students angry with me because they have forgotten to complete an exam and can’t believe I wouldn’t give it to them anytime they wanted to take it.  I have even caught students cheating, but after their complaining to the university they were not punished because they were graduating that semester.

Teachers have largely given up enforcing class rules, allowing major exceptions to making up exams (not medical related), allowing cell phone use in the classroom, and many have provided an avenue to an easy A.

I worry more about these students’ lives, relationships, and careers more than their grades. Despite approximately 35-40% of my students receiving an A or A-, I can’t tell you how many students tell me that my class is “too hard.” The facts simply don’t support their assertion, but to be honest, I’m glad getting an A in my is harder than getting in A in their other classes; if my class is “hard,” then perhaps it’s because they are learning something. I’ve rarely learned anything when it was easy. (Students frequently ask me if they really have to read the textbook to prepare for exams, which also suggests the rigor of course work is decreasing).

Okay, perhaps this is a venting session about academia, but it is more of a posting about entitlement in general. What can be done about it, for parents, teachers, or even in other relationships?

  1. Enforce the rules. Once you allow an exception to the rule, be prepared to expect more exceptions. Being consistent with enforcing the rules is vital.
  2. Explain why the boundaries/rules are important to you. Sometimes I do a good job with this at home and school, and sometimes I don’t. But here’s one example: In my class, I expect that students will put away their cell phones during class time. They are welcome to go outside the room and text or talk or surf or whatever, but inside the classroom I find it to be both disrespectful and distracting. If I’m distracted, how can I help them prepare for an upcoming exam?
  3. Respect yourself and respect others. Many times boundaries or rules are not enforced because parents or teachers simply do not feel they have the ability to change culture. Most of my colleagues tell me “it just isn’t worth” fighting it, even though they know it is disruptive. If we as parents or teachers believe in what we’re doing, and really care about those who are dependent on us, then we need to seriously consider what they’re learning. Are they learning to work in a collaborating society with high expectations or do they expect free hand-me-outs for just showing up?

What do you think? Do you have any recommendations for working with entitled youth or adults?

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