To be a parent is to be in a constant state of losing control of your kids.

The time to begin uploading lessons onto the mind and souls of their little hard drives begins early. Of course the best lessons are learned by example – whether you let your children learn the lessons themselves or whether you let them witness your own experiences.

As a borderline Gen Xer/Millennial, one common knock on me and my generation(s) is that we are entitled. We expect to be given things that took our parents years to acquire.

My friend Matt recently wrecked his truck (not his fault). In a phone call with his parents to talk over options, Matt’s dad confessed that he had recently purchased his first brand new car – at the age of 61. The lesson Matt’s parents had taught him from an early age wasn’t that new cars (or new things for that matter) are bad. But that they are to be valued and to be cherished. And the things that we value and cherish the most are the things we have to work for.

My son, at 4 years old, is just beginning to understand the meaning of Christmas – presents. And each day, he’s asking for something different. A Spiderman car. A baseball glove. A Ken dream house. (He has a sister that might or might not have influenced that last one.)

While I want to give my kids good gifts, I also don’t want them to grow up feeling entitled. It’s a tricky balance of demanding my kids to work and demanding my kids to play. They are kids after all and I’m fully aware that in a few short years, they will be faced with the daily demands that I face as an adult.

I really appreciate the article Tricia Goyer wrote recently in Thriving Family. She lays out four solid principles on how to help your kids – teenagers in her case – escape the trap of entitlement:

  1. Model right priorities
  2. Teach a solid work ethic
  3. Show the big picture
  4. Turn them to Jesus

It’ll take time for me and you to get our children to a place where we feel like they’ve matured - full of internal hard drives of programs and apps they received from us that are usable in the real, adult world. But we continue forward – one release of control at a time.

QUESTION: How are you helping your children beat the trap of entitlement?