Whack. Whack. Whack. A four-year-old boy was continuously pulling and releasing the tray table on the back of my husband’s seat on a recent flight to Phoenix. It was late—probably past the boy’s regular bedtime. Belted into his seat for nearly three hours, he was clearly bored, tired, and doing what comes naturally to a preschooler. He was protesting the injustices of his life in the only way he knew how—whining, crying and distracting himself by whacking the tray table on the seat immediately in front of him.
It’s easy to see the problem with a four-year-old’s behavior. It’s annoying. It fails to produce the desired results. It’s a pain in the neck to anyone within ear shot. And, yet, it makes sense to a young child. It’s the only way he knows to register his discontent because he didn’t expect riding on an airplane to be so dull and confining. He thought it would be a lot more exciting.
This is one of the problems with the high-tech lifestyle to which most of us, and especially our kids, have become accustomed. According to Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak (2019) in Generation Z Unfiltered: Facing Nine Hidden Challenges of the Most Anxious Population, “Our world is full of speed, convenience, entertainment, nurture and entitlement” (p. 115).
While these are not necessarily bad things, they do condition us to believe the following:
As we assume the above, we begin to believe we deserve to be treated in ways that are comfortable, caring, convenient and fun.
The problem is that life often fails to unfold itself in the way we like. Any mature adult recognizes this, but our children do not and today’s world makes it difficult for them to develop realistic expectations.
Parents know learning a new skill or habit takes time and expect that it can be difficult. Practice often feels a lot like work. Likewise, trying new experiences opens the door to the possibility of failure. Perhaps this is why more young people than ever before are delaying to obtain a driver’s license or move out of their parent’s home to a dorm room or apartment of their own. They want to avoid the risks associated with being responsible for one’s self. They’re not sure what to expect.
Here’s the thing, if we want to be happy in life, we need to learn to manage our expectations. It has been suggested that when reality (R) is less than our expectations (E), we are unhappy or discontent (D).
When we believe we are missing out on sometime we are entitled to have, frustration and disappointment morph into anger. We say, “That’s not fair!” and we believe we have been wronged. There is injustice in the world and we are the victim. It is not a happy place to be.
So how does a parent battle the persistent messages of entitlement his child receives? Here are three possibilities:
There’s one more thing. When we are able to overcome the bonds of entitlement, we are much more likely to see the bigger picture and demonstrate compassion. We can see a disagreeable, out-of-control child or we can have empathy for a tired, traveling mom returning home from a visit with her military husband. She’s tired; her son is tired; and a wiggly little body is to be expected. We can get over ourselves and our own expectations. We can see the world through a different lens and we are often a lot happier—something we want for ourselves and our children.
For more great insights and tips be sure to subscribe to our Good Dads Podcast.
In closing, if you click through and order a copy of Generation Z Unfiltered, Good Dads will earn from qualifying purchases and that helps us keep the lights on. Thanks for your support - today and always!
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books empower children to be more successful by teaching many important life skills, and regularly reading to your children is time spent nurturing and showing them affection. There is literally no downside to the time you spend with your children and books, and it's never too early to start!
Gary Beckman, long-time first grade teacher and champion storyteller, joined us on the Good Dads Podcast to share six of his favorite books that help children develop leadership characteristics (check out that episode of the podcast here).
Many of these classic books are out of print, but you can still find copies at your local library or used bookstore, or click through the links below to search on Amazon.
See if you recognize any from your own childhood. Bonus points if you still have the book and tag us in a photo on social media!
For more great insights and tips be sure to subscribe to our Good Dads Podcast, and check out this episode on Leadership Books.
In closing, when you click through to Amazon and buy these books to help teach your kids leadership traits you'll not only be the best dad ever, but Good Dads will also earn from qualifying purchases (at no additional cost to you!), and that helps us keep the lights on. Thanks for your support - today and always!
If you have been parenting for even a minute, your world has been bombarded with all sorts of advice on what you should do. Good dads know that they are to model love, laughter, and good work ethics. Not only do good dads know these are essential, but we strive to show them to the best of our ability. When one or all of these things seem to take hold in one of our kids, we celebrate. We are thrilled, even a little proud that we could play such a positive role in their overall development as a human being.
But, what about the things we should be doing that aren’t so “good looking” on the surface? Sometimes, dads need to be willing to be what the world might deem “unattractively transparent” so that kids can learn some pretty deep life lessons. It is with this mindset that I think of three things in particular that our kids should see us doing, but often some things that make us feel pretty uncomfortable.
As parents, especially dads, we can have this innate desire to be seen as “superheroes” in the eyes of our young. Always the one with the great advice, the right answer, the solution to any and all problems. Always the one to swoop in and make things look easy. But, is that real life? And, more importantly, will our kids always be in situations where someone else will save the day? Struggle is part of life…real life…any life. If our kids never see us struggle, they will never have the opportunity to see us persevere. The ability to persevere in spite of challenging circumstances is a much-needed skill in order to be successful, but many young people lack it. It’s okay to let your kids see you struggle, as long as they see you persevere through it.
Yup. I said it. Kids should see their dads cry. They also should see them laugh. Maybe not every second of every day, but crying and laughing are part of the emotional coping process. Now, you may not be the crying type and I can’t say I have cried that many times in front of my boys over the past almost 30 years, but they have certainly seen the eyes water on a few occasions. It isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of life. Let the kids know your emotional lights are on, somebody is home, and that somebody knows how to cope with the heartache and joy this life presents.
I will be the first to admit it, before my wife and kids can… I have a hard time saying I am wrong. But, admit I must, for wrong I often am. If you look around, ours is a culture in which many have a hard time conceding fault. Taking responsibility is not something humans tend to want to do. It's critical for our sons and daughters to witness us not only making mistakes, but also owning up to them. We must exhibit the humility necessary to say, “I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me so that we can continue to live and love and work together?” Can you imagine if every person on social media possessed this skill? Our world would forever be changed. And in a good way. Dads, this kind of behavior gives our kids an example and experience to be the kind of adult people that will be skilled to develop deep relationships.
So, as you ponder the things to let your kids see… and not see… remember to let them see you struggle, cry, and apologize. This just might lead to kids who can readily persevere, cope, and humbly get along with everyone else on the planet.
Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at email@example.com