Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Examining the entitlement mindset in kids July 10, 2011

Filed under: Books,Correction,Materialism and entitlement,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 9:54 pm

“Pointing to the one character trait that causes more misery in people’s lives than any other would be difficult… Certainly one of the top three or four destructive traits would be having a feeling of entitlement. Entitlement is when someone feels as if people owe him things or special treatment simply because he exists. People with this character trait feel entitled to privileges, special treatment, things other people have, respect, love, or whatever else they want. And when they do not get what they want, they feel that the one who is not giving it to them is ‘wrong’… They carry around a feeling of ‘you should,’ and they are always demanding something from someone.”

I found this definition of entitlement in Boundaries with Kids (Cloud/Townsend) to be extremely helpful; it’s a trait I contemplate frequently but rarely see discussed in much depth. We encounter an entitlement mindset in our son, age 5, fairly frequently and have been combatting it for years (I wrote about its first cropping up here, when he was 3.) He’s our firstborn, and several other mom friends have confirmed that this trait often appears more in their eldest than in other kids. Perhaps because they view themselves as on more similar footing to the resident adults as to the younger children, or perhaps because each was an only child before siblings were born. [I’m not saying that this is always the case, just that it is in our family and several others we know.] (more…)


Combatting bedlam at bed-time June 8, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Materialism and entitlement,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:54 pm

Six weeks before our new baby arrived this spring, we put our eldest two children – ages 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 – into a bedroom together. We gave them three rules to follow: (1) no getting out of bed; (2) no craziness; and (3) quiet talking only. Things went surprisingly well for a while. The kids were pretty quiet after lights-out, and they fell asleep at a decent hour. And their being together in the early morning seemed to keep them occupied when it was still too early for anyone else to be up. We were pleased.

But then a few weeks after the baby was born, and more than two months after they’d moved into their new room, things started to go downhill. Big time. They were noisy and rowdy in the evenings; they didn’t fall asleep till very late (often more than an hour after bedtime); they came out of their room repeatedly for a host of reasons — to go potty; for a drink; to get “things they needed.” Because my husband and I were distracted by the needs of the new baby and sleep-deprived ourselves, we didn’t notice the situation creeping up on us. We were less likely at the end of the day, too, to be intentional about our parenting standards.

One evening, when I returned home from the grocery store around 8:45 to find our daughter out of her room for what my husband said was the fifth time, I suddenly saw the situation for what it was. Who had our family become? We had a problem here, and it wasn’t going away. It didn’t matter if we reviewed the three rules with the kids at bedtime or if we had them say them back to us; they were not going to abide by them. They just weren’t. Worse, I realized that they’d acclimated themselves to their time together in their room at night being unsupervised time, to the absence of Mom and Dad’s oversight. They could do basically whatever they wanted; it was a free-for-all! The disciplinary measures they were receiving for misbehaving were insufficient to curb the intoxicating pleasures of unmonitored life and general tomfoolery that bedtime brought with it. (more…)


Month in review January 10, 2011

Filed under: Blogging,Holidays,Mary,Materialism and entitlement — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:31 am

Over the past month we have…

…Been privileged to spend a week across the country, visiting with my husband’s elderly grandfather during what turned out to be the final month of his life.B He died ten days after we left.  It was a gift, both for my husband and me, to know this man well and for our children to be the focus and delight of his countenance whenever we visited.  In his passing, my husband and I have discussed the gift of connection to the partriarchs of our families, and too we’ve discussed the import of Psalm 39:4: “Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”  Even to a man of nearly 92 years, life on this earth must feel fleeting.  Thank you, Lord, that Grandpa is with you now.

…Spent our at-home Christmas abed with the stomach flu, which paid a visit to two of the five of us starting on Christmas Eve.  My churning stomach caused me to reflect on Mary and the real events of Jesus’ birth…  The first Christmas was, for her, much more similar to my laid-up and subdued holiday experience than anything that modern America puts on today by way of celebration.  Joy and wonder, yes, but also inconvenience, awkward circumstances she wouldn’t have chosen, and bodily pain.  I thought of Mary as I sat on the bathroom floor, thankful for the reminder to step away from the entitlement mindset that can often pervade the American Christmas experience (my own included) – the notion that the holiday ought to be special and warming and perfect. Mary’s wasn’t.

“While they were (in Bethlehem), the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

…Hosted my beloved sister and her family of four for a week over New Year’s, a few days after the stomach flu had moved on (all but one of us, it turned out).  We are very close, and it’s difficult to be across the country from her – as with my whole family – especially in this season of raising young children.  The week was a joy and also brought many ponderings about the realities and challenges of living far from family, about cousins being with cousins so seldom over the course of a year.  I thought, as I have so many times before, of Paul’s words to his dear brother Timothy: “I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.”

A full month, to be sure, and one in which the Lord’s words are as present and relevant as ever. Thank you Jesus for ever walking through this life with us and shining your light upon the paths our feet walk. May we be closer to you in this coming year than we were in the last.


Praise for simple birthdays December 4, 2010

Filed under: Culture,Holidays,Materialism and entitlement — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:39 am

Advent is upon us, and at our house we’re ankle-deep in nativity books, open-the-door calendars, garlands, and gingerbread house planning.  But I’ve had a post in my head for weeks about birthday celebrations, and before I get into Christmas topics I thought I’d throw this one out there.

The thing that pushed me over the edge was this November post by Molly Piper about her son’s sixth birthday party. [If you haven’t checked out Molly’s blog, you should.  The daughter-in-law of John Piper, she’s a gifted writer herself and especially powerful on topics of grief and grieving since her daughter’s stillbirth in 2007.]  Molly wrote:

“We do birthdays pretty simply. I don’t kill myself over a cake. I let the kid pick what they want to eat, and so it’s usually a simple menu (this year it was mac & cheese with hot dogs in it). I don’t do favor bags. I let my mother-in-law host it at her house (!). We invite a couple families we’re close with, and that’s it. Voila! Kid birthday party! I didn’t grow up with a birthday “party” every year. We had one every few years, and that was good! I don’t personally think that kids should get used to a huge party every year. I know it’s their special day, but making it special with family is sufficient, in my opinion.” (more…)


Sacrificing “thank offerings” for our children October 31, 2010

Filed under: Emotions,Materialism and entitlement,Mothering role,Prayer — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:17 pm

I’m four months pregnant with our fourth child (not sure I’ve mentioned that yet, but if I haven’t you won’t be too surprised if you’re a regular reader here), and lately I battle a fair bit of fatigue.  I slept terribly on Friday night and yesterday woke up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  It had been a long week, and as hunting season just started my husband was out for the morning, so I was on my own with the three kids.  That plus preparing for a full weekend – Halloween today and our eldest’s fifth birthday on Monday – and I was a crank.

The two bigger kids bickered considerably throughout the morning,the baby refused her morning nap, and when my husband returned I begged off our son’s 11 AM soccer game (he took all the kids) so I could go back to bed.  As I lay down I felt God prodding me.  All I wanted to do was crumple into a heap of  moodiness and slumber.  But, as God pointed out, I was riddled with thanklessness.  In my mind I was rehearsing all the frustrating things about my life and home and family, feeling completely sorry for myself, when in reality He has given me blessing upon blessing.  Here it was, the five-year anniversary of my becoming a mother, and all I could do was internally whine. (more…)


“Redeeming the time”: kids in the car June 21, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Behaviors,Materialism and entitlement,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 3:47 am

If you had to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much you typically enjoy time in the car with your preschoolers, what number would you pick? For most moms it’s not the most fun place ever to be.  Getting out of the house is often harried; sibling bickering between seats is common fare and difficult to police while driving; there’s no way to soothe a crying baby from the front seat.  It can be a “let’s just get through this” scenario.  Everyone’s strapped in and immobile till the destination’s reached; if things aren’t going well it can feel like jail.

When our first child was about two years old, we developed the habit of talking to him very regularly while driving to keep him engaged and distracted, so that he wouldn’t melt down.  We would frequently point out diggers, motorcycles, police cars, and he became accustomed to us keeping him continually occupied. Our goal was to keep him happy and prevent all of us from having to endure a potential meltdown that his boredom or dissatisfaction might elicit.  My father pointed out the dynamic to us and suggested that perhaps less frequent engagement from us would ultimately be more helpful for all, but at the time we weren’t ready to hear it.  It wasn’t till much later that we started pondering America’s entitlement mindset (here: our son believed that the car ride was all about him) and how it relates to parenting. (more…)


Of entitlement and toughness June 7, 2010

Filed under: Books,Culture,For moms,Materialism and entitlement — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:40 am

According to The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, “a key concept in Hasidic (Jewish) thought expresses the idea of balance: keep two pieces of paper in your pockets at all times.  On one write, ‘I am a speck of dust.’ On the other, ‘The world was created for me.’” This sentiment, poetic and profound, resonates with me.  Because it’s true, of course, that all men are dust– were created from and will return to dust… And equally true that Jesus loves humans individually to the point that He would die just for me if I were earth’s only inhabitant.

But keeping the two truths in balance is hard work.  Too much emphasis on “I’m a speck of dust” and we lose the life-giving love of Christ.  Too much emphasis on “the world was created for me” and we see ourselves as overly special, unique, deserving.  Other cultures – perhaps impoverished ones where folks routinely stand for hours to get  clean water – may readily identify with “I’m a speck of dust.”  But America?  We’re way at the other end of the spectrum.  As a society, we wrote the book on “the world was created just for me.”  L’Oreal (and a thousand other marketing messages like it) told us “You’re worth it!” – and darned if we aren’t going to take them at face value and clamor for our share of the happiness we feel is our birthright as Americans. (more…)