Young or Old, Entitlement Thinking Stinks

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John G. Miller – future QBQ! author – commanding a 1960’s “Fox Trac.”

The winter of 1970 in Ithaca, N.Y. provided perfect conditions for bombing around on our now vintage-looking Fox Trac snowmobile. Thus, the 11-year-old competent, confident, and cute commander of this carriage needed the proper winter attire. So my mom (riding in the cart with my brother) and I went shopping for a “snowsuit.” Much to my dismay, we found one. Yes, the hideous thing you see me wearing in the picture.

Really, Mom!? Neon yellow!? Can’t I get one in a man’s color like black, Navy blue, or rich chocolate brown!?

All my pleading for anything-but-yellow fell on deaf—but wise—ears. We came home with my new “banana suit” and, like it was yesterday, I remember why Mom chose it (and, no, it wasn’t so she could find me in a snowstorm!):

It was on sale.

Said another way, Mary Miller spent hard-earned income on that suit because Mary Miller could afford that suit. How retro.

You see …

I didn’t “deserve” the color of my choice, nor was I entitled to an “upgrade” the next season. I wore the neon yellow banana snowsuit till I outgrew it.

In Parenting the QBQ Way, my wife, co-author, and money management partner, Karen, and I ask the reader, do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

  • Every child on an athletic team should receive a trophy.
  • Children must have the newest version of all things electronic.
  • Thirteen-year-olds deserve limos for their birthday parties.
  • Cell phones are not a privilege, they are a right.
  • Driving is not a privilege, it is a right.

After reading the above we suspect most parents would respond with, “Right! I don’t agree at all!” Excellent. But accountable parents should also ponder these five introspective questions:

“Am I instilling thoughts and beliefs like these into my child?”

“Have I created kids who suffer from unhealthy entitlement thinking?”

“In what ways have I become entitled and am modeling it for my child?”

“Have I bought into the ‘I deserve an upgrade’ lie?”

“In any way have I fallen into the trap of buying it now even though I don’t have the money now?”

(Jump to this piece to see the money traps Karen and I fell into “back in the day”: Personal Accountability and Money)

Forty-four years ago, my mom modeled sound money-handling practices for me when she bought that totally-functional-truly-kept-me-warm-and-dry-awful-color suit. By no means was it groovy, but it got the job done. One more time: It got the job done. And by purchasing it, she got her financial management job done—while teaching her “tween” (long before anyone knew tweens existed!) an invaluable lesson:

I am not entitled to everything I want.

Now that was a lesson worth learning!

Lastly, here are ten more money lessons moms and dads can teach their children—and practice themselves, too! Parenting the QBQ Way—the Financial Piece.

For discussion and comment:

During this holiday season, what financial lessons are you teaching your kids? Also, review the 5 introspective questions above and share a candid thought or two. Comment below!

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33 Responses

  1. Now that is a power suit!

    Parenting the QBQ way is Oh-so-healthy.

    As the father of an almost-3-year-old, I needed this reminder…I’m sticking to it, for his sake!
    Thank you!

  2. I reeeeeeeally need this , I am the father of three little Girls…. Drowning in the estrogen river… Help!

  3. 100% agree. And the combination of QBQ along with Dave Ramsey’s financial principles provides such a solid foundation for everyone. I highly recommend to everyone that I know.

  4. I just got married and we plan to have children in the very near future. Although I do not yet have children but the 5 introspective questions are great to reflect on! I rarely upgrade anything (we still have super old phones!) but, we constantly remind ourselves that we shouldn’t replace/buy anything that we cannot already afford. Sometimes it’s hard if you want it but it’s worth it to wait until you can afford it!

  5. Perfect timing for this email for my family and I. Juggling three kids, a wife, three dogs, and all that we are blessed with takes serious focus and I always enjoy your knowledge and leadership. Empowering the whole family to go against entitlements in every way is a must. I will be getting the book…or winning it??

  6. I have probably lived a pretty entitled life. What I have done though is worked hard for it. I am the principal of a high school, I engrave on perfume bottles over the holidays, I do airbrush t-shirts in the summers, and I help my husband do his books (so he doesn’t have to hire extra people). I do all of this to show my kids how to work hard and smart to have a great life. The art is actually fun, doesn’t take up a lot of time, and is quite fruitful!!

    I love my work and I talk about that all the time.

    I love my kids and spend LOTS of time with them! We have GREAT family time (although it sounds like I wouldn’t have a lot of extra time).

    I just hope I’m modeling the right things.

  7. Great article, John! But you failed to mention the wisdom in choosing the “yellow” suit as it also stands out in a snow bank, should a rescue party be needed to find the occupant of the suit. (P.S. – I had one just like it!) Most of what my parents did for me (the youngest of 11) was based out of “need” vs. “want.” Often what children want is not what they need, and what they need we fail to share with them. Sharing the QBQ principles in our parenting methods is a need for sure!

  8. I was raised as a child in the 50s and I was not raised with entitlement thinking, but my mother, a child of the depression, wanted me to have the things she didn’t. We didn’t have a lot of money, but my mother worked in the days when most mothers didn’t, and she made sure I had nice clothes (she was a smart shopper, they weren’t expensive) and I was fortunate to have a car of my own in High School (though when I got married, we bought the car from my parents). I had things some of my friends did not. I was not as good an example for my son. As a single mom I felt guilty and tried to buy him the things he thought he should have. Fortunately for my son and me, he turned out okay and is raising his kids the QBO way.

  9. Thanks for a great article and reminder. Just became a first time grandparent and needed to be reminded not to spoil our new little grandson.

  10. I have always wanted the best for my son… Realise i have to teach a few things myself before I get down to the task of making my son aware!!!

  11. Amen John: entitlement thinking not only stinks, but seriously hurts character, no matter the age! I have to listen to my at-risk teen students mock my “dinasour” flip phone that has absolutely no bells nor whistles, as they text away on their top-of-the line touch phones (even free obama phones). Kids these days, if I may use that expression :), are learning that they are entitled to everything from braces to the latest $200. bball shoes. Oh what our kiddos could learn if they could live with the truly poor in 3rd world countries who are capable of experiencing true joy without all the “stuff”. Merry Christmas 🙂

  12. I don’t have any children so there’s no lesson that I’m teaching them this season. Though, my wife and I would like children one day and think this book would come in mighty handy as we prepare.

  13. My children are all but grown now. I wished I had read this before the first one was born. My children do manage their money well and I do think my husband and I have done a good job with them fiscally, but I know I could have done much better with the lesson on saving their money. I hope as grandchildren come into the picture that this book will be used by my children to raise their own.

  14. John, why isn’t this common knowledge? I’d much rather schools teach this ahead of just about anything. However, it’s not the school’s job! Parents need to be on top of this from a very young age. But, with the direction our society is headed, everyone thinks they’re entitled to whatever they want. It’s scary!

    We need your books and Dave Ramseys books in the hands of everyone!

  15. We struggle with “entitlement” here at times also. During the holiday season, we completely downplay the “getting” part and focus on the “giving” part. One tradition we started last year is to go out to breakfast and leave a huge tip for the waitress/waiter. We have a piggy bank and feed the pig with spare change all year, so that is what we use for the tips. Last year we were able to give away $250 at two different places… the kids had a lot of fun with that. I think it’s all a matter of where you put your focus.

  16. Growing up in a single parent home (younger brother and I were raised by our divorced father), we were told that he would “provide us with a roof over our heads, clean clothes on our backs and food in our bellies.” He went on to say that they were not going to be a mansion, designer clothes, nor gormet meals. Anything over and above that, we as preteens and teenagers worked to earn the money for. Someday (I’m 56), I hope to grow up to be half the man that he was.

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