Generosity in the Age of Entitlement


I have long wondered whether it really was a good idea to give children everything. I am not talking about food, shelter, love or your time (which you can never give too much of in my opinion); I am talking about “stuff”.

Is it really a good idea to give children cell phones, IPads, about $400 sneakers just because you can? More importantly, what sort of people do these children grow up to be if they are indulged with expensive and unnecessary toys at a young age?

If you are anything like me, you are at the core of your being quite generous. You want to “spoil” the grandkids, and you get a sense of pleasure both from knowing that you can give them things and from watching them squeal with delight when you do.

The problem is to separate what is a necessity in this modern world from what is a luxury, and how to instill a few life lessons in the value of money and the importance of learning to save and provide for oneself.

Simply admonishing a greedy child by saying “money doesn’t grow on trees” has no meaning to a child who knows quite well that it comes from a box on the wall known as a bank machine. You have to help them realize that the money that pays for the stuff they are begging for is the byproduct of work.

I realize that I run the risk of appearing patronizing by pointing this out, but you would not believe how many kids out there really don’t think they need to work – they are inadvertently being raised to imagine that they are entitled to all the things that they see on TV or that their friends have.

So what is the answer?

Think before you spend. The world has changed and children these days do require some things that you and I did not.

Is a cell phone necessary for a child? This is a tough call – if your teenage grandchild travels to and from school alone, it might well be for required for safety.

Is a game station necessary? Probably not, but it might be a good opportunity to sit down with your grandchild and discuss a “purchase plan” … something along the lines of …. I will pay for this item if you complete the following chores around my house at a rate of x dollars per hour … or I will pay for the item if you come up with a plan to raise half the money required and then help them brainstorm.

Once the item has been “earned” go ahead and get it for them – the smile on their face will just as wide and you will know that you haven’t just bought them a gift, you have invested in their development as a person.


One response to “Generosity in the Age of Entitlement

  1. Interesting blog. I recently had a conversation with a young late-20’s fellow whose parents are my friends. He was truly bitter that his parents weren’t backing him financially like some other people were doing for their adult children. He criticized their financial decision making and criticized them for “settling” for a simple lifestyle which he felt limited their capacity to help him bring his dreams to fruition. I believe helping our adult children financially is a privilege, not an obligation. This young fellow strongly disagreed. I’m still gob-smacked.

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