Maybe it’s part of the human condition, to want more. Maybe it’s a reflection of our society, to compare and contrast. Over the last summer holidays, despite deliberately not showering my children with what I thought was “too much”, attempting to teach them to value what we already have as well as simple pleasures, and also that we don’t actually to have everything that everyone else has, they wanted more.
One fine day of weakness and feeling the latest thing the kids wanted was actually something they’d use a lot, I bought it for them.
The very next day they asked, “can we get a surfboard?”
A surf board we would get a lot of use with, but the request hit me. Enough was never going to be enough because there was always the next thing.
Was this a request, or an expectation from my kids?
There was much humphing from my kids when I said “no”, despite really wanting to say "yes", because I’d just learnt to stand up on a surfboard. Well, I didn’t feel I was up, but a surfer friends looked at a photo and commented “yeah, that’s up.”
Underneath the request for the surfboard, I felt the insidious creeping of entitlement and decided this needed to be addressed. Urgently.
Travelling and seeing young children who have pretty much nothing, play joyfully with what they do have, has influenced my parenting. Many house-moves has also contributed to my outlook of wanting to keep things simple and as minimalist as possibly with two active, creative children.
The world of entitlement is not exclusive to children. Was it the fairytales that brainwashed us? Entitlement pervades our society in people’s expectations of others. Often seen as “should-ing”.
Why don’t you?
I have recently experienced the displeasure of, again, not meeting someone else’s expectations. Expectations that weren’t communicated prior to the “shoulding”. Shoulding implies someone else’s choices are worthless or that they “should” do, be or choose something complying to someone else’s judgement.
Imposing a 'should' on someone is an aggression.
It is an attempt to control.
If the interaction isn’t a fair exchange, then what is it? The fair exchange may not be immediate, there is always give and take at different times within any relationship, but overall, repeatedly being drained of resources or energy is not a fair exchange.
In the age of entitlement, whether it's expecting someone should be a certain way, make certain decisions or provide something for you, the only way through is being responsible. Responsible for your own choices, reactions, and owning your intention. Everything else will fall in to place.
In my children’s books, my intention is to show children what control and disfunction looks like and introduce vocabulary and an example of a skill to deal with situations.
When you write your own fairytale, the ending will be better than all that other trite you’ve ever read about and allows a sense of inner freedom. Go on, write your own next chapter without the 'shoulds'. Let me know how it makes you feel.