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Have you ever heard anybody say, “We want to make the lives of our children easier than we had it growing up”? Maybe you’ve said it too. But is that the best?

The next generation can be prone to a spirit of entitlement when things are just given to them and they have not had to learn a good work ethic as well as the value of money. But, as parents and grandparents, we can help to prevent an entitlement mentality or a poor work ethic.

Provide for Their Needs but Let Them Earn Their Wants

Recently, I observed a young son who was demanding a prized object. He felt it was cruel of his parents to not give it to him. The wise father said that he could have it . . . if the son paid for it. Suddenly, the son no longer wanted the item that he had previously felt he could not do without.

What had changed? He learned that there was a cost, a value to what he wanted. It came with a price tag and he didn’t want to pay the price. Things are not free. Life is not free.

When I was growing up, my parents bought the Sears brand of jeans and sneakers. When I wanted Levis and Nikes, guess what? They said I could buy them if I wanted to; they would give me the money for the Sears brand but I had to work and earn the difference if I wanted the “cool” brands. Of course, I wanted the cool brands, so I started mowing lawns, raking leaves and doing other odd jobs for people in the neighborhood. In that process I learned a lot of valuable lessons, including how to sell myself, negotiate a price, do a job with excellence (if I wanted repeat customers), the value of a dollar, and the value of hard work.

So it is with our work ethic. In our entitlement culture that tries to reward everyone in service of fairness whether they have earned it or not, the value of our achievements is diminished.

Let Them Earn Their Achievements

Achievements are not truly achieved when they are just given. When our children and grandchildren have to work for their achievements, they earn something better than just the result of their labor: they earn and learn the value of hard work and they earn character.