Putting an End to Entitlement
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Kristen Welch tells how she and her husband nipped their child’s entitlement mentality in the bud after a fun family outing to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Putting an End to Entitlement
Kristen: He’s opening nine or ten gifts, and we have gifts for his family. The adults weren’t exchanging gifts; so, literally, I had nothing in my pile. He walks over—after everything is done—he walks over to the Christmas tree and pulls an ornament off the tree. Inside the ornament it’s a pearl necklace.
I said, “Thank you,” and then I went to the bathroom and I cried—because it wasn’t enough.
Bob: Come on!—a pearl necklace?!
Kristen: I know; I know—and he probably shopped a great sale and used coupons—but I think I equated love and gifts with stuff—and a lot of stuff—not necessarily one meaningful gift. It was very immature, and I was very young.
That was really—up until around the time of the boot story—my next door neighbor called me over to her house—this is maybe 15 years later—this has been growing in me—15 years later, my next door neighbor called me over to come show me her new wood floors.
This is someone who was probably 20 years older than me at the time. They had paid for their house—they had lived in the same house all of these years. We open the front door to her house, and her kitchen remodel was gorgeous—new appliances, new backsplash, the countertops and her floors were glorious! I just walked around, my mouth open, and loved every bit of it. I walked—
Bob: And then you went back to your house. [Laughter]
Kristen: —open my front door. This is what I said to my husband: “We need to redo our floors. While we’re at it, our kitchen needs some work too.”
Dennis: New appliances—
Kristen: New appliances.
Bob: Can I tell you: “This never stops”? We had this conversation, this week, at our house. I keep thinking, as you’re describing this whole issue and how this—this isn’t just what you do with your kids—this is how you deal with it in your own soul.
I keep thinking of Philippians 4—I keep coming back to that—Paul, who had been in prison as well as having lived in nice places, said [paraphrase]: “I’ve learned that contentment doesn’t come from what bed you’re sleeping on at night or what you had to eat for dinner last night. Contentment comes from knowing who God is and from having your value, your worth, your strength—all of that—found in Him.” That’s a great section of Scripture—not just to help your kids memorize—
Bob: —the secret of being content is something we all have to learn.
Dennis: Yes. I just want to ask you about the secret of being content. If you had one piece of advice—for a mom, dad, grandparent listening right now to our broadcast / it may be it’s a single person or a young married couple, who’s listening, who are struggling with this in their apartment, where they’re living—what is the best piece of advice you could give?
Bob: I’ve got it—it’s: “Turn the car around and take the boots back—[Laughter]
Bob: [with emphasis]—“until you get your attitude right, young man!”
Kristen: That does work!
Dennis: That does work! Or “Go pull out all the weeds.”
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: That works!
Kristen: I think—I don’t know if you can narrow it down to one key; but for us—for my family—it’s been the word, “perspective.” We don’t have to teach our kids how to compare themselves to other people. We don’t have to teach ourselves how to compare ourselves—we do that naturally. We are very good at seeing what other people have and wanting what they have. It’s the tenth commandment—not to covet what our neighbor has. We are excellent at that, but what we’re not so great at is comparing ourselves to people with less.
When we do that, we put ourselves in the middle—we can see: “Okay; this person has more, but this person has less.” And we find ourselves in the middle. Perspective is really the birthplace of gratitude, because it makes us thankful for what we have.
My kids were serving with their church youth group. They were helping to rebuild a house in Texas from all the flooding that we just encountered.
They were ripping out sheet rock, and they were pulling up rotten floors. I got a text from my 16-year-old daughter. Her text stopped me in my tracks—it said, “Mom, did you know there are people in our town, who don’t have floors?” This is a kid who—it’s easy for her to compare herself to people with more, but when she saw that someone didn’t have floors—when she came home that day, she lay down on the floor and she was like, “I’m so glad we have floors!”
It was just perspective—I think that’s the key. We have to break out of our bubbles. I love my family / I love my kids—I try my best to be an intentional parent. I spent the first ten years doing everything I could to raise a godly family—but I didn’t do it very often outside of my four walls.
I didn’t focus on others. I didn’t give my kids opportunities to see how other people live. I think I did them a disservice. For us, the key has been throwing open those doors, raising the windows, getting to know our neighbors and finding places to serve and to give to others. That has brought perspective like nothing else has.
Dennis: When we were raising our six, I recall looking forward to the time when I could take some of the older children—it was the older three—with me and Barbara on a trip to a third-world country that had a lot of needs. There is something about going near the poor—meeting them / finding out they are real human beings, who are living right now, in conditions that we’re not used to seeing / we’re not used to experiencing.
I just remember—when I took our children, it was a spiritual wheel alignment—
—from a great youth group that was doing a good job with them, but that trip—that encounter with people who didn’t have much—did a lot for them in providing what you’re talking about—that perspective.
Bob: That’s been a part of your story as well; in fact, you talk about it in the book you’ve written called Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. You’ve got a non-profit that is all about helping people in desperate circumstances in a third-world country. I’d just encourage our listeners—go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. We’ve got a link—not only to Kristen’s blog, which is called We Are THAT Family—but we’ve also got a link to the non-profit that you guys give leadership to—you and your husband. Folks can find out more about the work that you’re doing in Kenya.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and, while you’re there, get information on Kristen’s book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World.
You can order it from us, online, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. That’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I think there’s a link between the issue of gratitude and the issue of generosity. I think entitled kids grow up to be more selfish, less generous, more “me” focused. I think grateful kids grow up with an open heart to a want to bless others. I think about that when I think about our listeners, Dennis—I think about the folks who support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
We have a lot of very generous listeners who, over the years, have said: “What FamilyLife Today is all about is important in our community.
“It’s important for my wife and me” or “…my husband and me to listen to this program. It’s important for my friends and neighbors. It’s important to have this on the air in our community.” We’re grateful for those of you who support this ministry either with occasional donations or those of you who are regular, monthly Legacy Partners—very grateful for you guys as you provide the financial foundation that makes this daily radio program possible.
During the month of February, we’d like to express our thanks when you make a donation by sending you a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s daily devotional guide called Moments with You. It’s our thank-you gift when you make a donation, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com—either a one-time donation or maybe your first donation as a new Legacy Partner. Find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “Donate,”—or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. You can also mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today, PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; the zip code is 72223.
Again, if you’d like the devotional book, please ask for it—it’s called Moments with You.
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about how moms and dads need to be, maybe, a little tougher on their kids than we tend to be. Toughen them up a little bit so that they don’t grow up with an entitlement mentality. Kristen Welch is going to be back with us. Hope you can be back here tomorrow as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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