A few days ago I had probably one of the most direct and uncomfortable conversations with my two boys. At first I was going to let the incident slide, but then I saw a look in their eyes that honestly bothered me. It was the look of entitlement. Entitlement is just one of those things that I personally don’t tolerate in my home and it freaked me out. It wasn’t that they did something horribly wrong but rather the realization that I was raising two future adults.
Have you ever had that happen to you? You look at your kids and realize OMG, these kiddos will be grown ups some day? All followed by “I don’t want to mess them up”. If you have, you’re not alone. I think at some point all moms have that moment.
So what did they do?
I had just purchased a pair of new shoes for my oldest and in less than a month he had literary destroyed them again. I mean destroyed. The sole was separating. It wouldn’t have been so bad except for this was the second time we had to buy new shoes for the same reason. He was using the wrong shoes for the wrong activities knowingly. When I asked him why the shoes were torn up he was honest about it but had the attitude of “go get me new shoes”.
My youngest was instructed not to eat a particular food item as it was going to be used for supper. There was plenty of other options to choose from, just not that one. Well as you can imagine, he ignored it and ate it. He fessed up to it and also had the attitude of “just got to the store and get more”.
That attitude bothered me with both of them. I was horrified at the idea and expectation they had that they could do whatever and someone else would fix it for them. I just don’t want that to be the mindset. I want them to know that regardless of how affluent we are, they need to take care of their things, manage their resources well and be considerate. I knew at that point I had to take some unusual and drastic measures.
What followed next broke my heart because I’m a big softy. Yet this time I knew softy momma wasn’t going to work. So what did I do?
My oldest had to go buy new shoes with the money he had. He wasn’t happy about that since he had other plans for it. To make the lesson stick, it means he is buying his shoes for the rest of the year. This means he’s going to now put some effort to make sure he earns enough money to cover his expenses. My youngest had to replace the food item he ate when he was told not to. And this is where the bigger lesson begins.
As it turns out my youngest had spent all of his money so he couldn’t replace what he used. This meant he had to borrow money. Meaning he acquired his first debt. When he realized how much he was going to have to do to earn that money and how he wouldn’t even get to keep it he was heart broken. He said with tears in his eyes “mom, I’m never getting into debt again”. This was huge for me. Somehow in all of this he managed to grasp the pain of debt. At the same time my oldest began to see how not taking care of things or making impulse decisions could very easily spiral into a financial situation nobody wanted. It was an eye opener.
It may seem harsh to some, and maybe it is. All I know is this week my kids learned that their freedom is not an excuse to infringe in the freedom and rights of others. That they do not get to misuse their resources and then expect someone to bail them out. That they have to learn self control and accountability. This week was a parenting win.
After all that I could exhale! I wasn’t being mean or too stern with my boys. The choice to discipline them ended up teaching them a huge lesson I wish I had learned at their age. However I think I learned the biggest lesson of all. Having them fail and struggle at this age is the best thing I can do for them. They’re learning things they will need when I’m no longer around to protect them. “A parent who loves a child disciplines”. That discipline is the greatest gift of love I can give them.
So to all the mommies out there who may be feeling like an ogre today because you had to be a bit tough. You’re not. You are a mother who loves and cares. They will thank you for it. Give yourself some grace to at times give tough love.