Privileged Children: A Parent's Guide to Answering Ungrateful Children
Most people consider "privileged" children to be the snobbish offspring or heirs of the lucrative dynasties, entitled celebrities, and powerful politicians. But, if we are being truthful, all children feel they are entitled to certain privileges without much accountability or responsibility.
For parents, respect is often lost once a child becomes a teenager, when he or she decides to rock the boat with their newfound liberation (or so they think) of graduating to the next grade level, increased demand for freedom and independence, and their often self-righteous, know-it-all attitudes. Do you know any children like that?
I bet you do! And I bet they might be living in your household, just like mine.
Gone are the days of the sweet, innocent creatures, relying solely on a parent to do everything from wiping their butts to picking up their toys and giving them baths filled with luxuriously warm water and snuggly towels to dry them off. Long past is the need for total attention, 24/7, 365 days a year. In fact, if you can even get their attention for two seconds, it is a miracle!
Let's face it, our children are privileged! No matter how much your household income is, your societal status, or your familial position in life, our children are privileged and often take it for granted. If you want their attention, cut off the Wi-Fi for ten seconds, and they'll all come rushing to your side as if fighting and begging for the last ounce of oxygen on earth!
Otherwise, you won't even know you have children. They tend to become independent isolationists, secluded in their favorite corner of their bedrooms or game rooms, pounding away at their electronic device and game consoles like the rest of the world doesn't even exist. While this is a sermon for another day about how kids are getting way too much electronic time and not enough outdoor time (like we were "forced" to do as children), the fact is we are in a technological age where electronics have replaced pretty much everything in society, and it's not going away anytime soon. If anything, our dependence upon technology is not only addictive, but becoming more and more necessary, unfortunately.
But, one thing we, as parents must continually do, is fight the battle of teaching our teens appreciation and gratitude - not just for their free Wi-Fi access, but also the things that matter most - even though it's not on their radar.
My boys share a common bathroom, and I rarely visit it or use it, honestly. However, when I walked into their bathroom recently, I had two choices:
Lose my mind and start freaking out
Walk away and address the issue in a more civilized manner
I have tried both methods, and this particular time I chose the latter. Despite my rising blood pressure and boiling attitude, I told my son he was not permitted to do anything else until the bathroom was clean, and the child had the nerve to tell me, "It doesn't bother us, so I don't know why it bothers you when you don't even use it."
That's when option two went out the door and option one kicked in. If I were a wonderful black woman, like some of my friends, I would have lost my earrings and shoes on that note. But, like I tell so many people who knew my momma (God rest her soul), she came back to pay a visit. And in Momma's true form, out of my mouth came her words, and out of my eyes came her look of death.
One thing my Momma did not tolerate was disrespect. And, I, being my mother's child, do not either.
My child, in all of his infinite wisdom, decided for one moment to say something stupid to me, and my momma, in all her infinite wisdom, arose, took hold of me, and possessed my spirit.
After sharing with my child the same thing I have shared so many times before (because you got to do that sometimes since they can't seem to understand the zillion times you have repeated these words so blatantly in the past), about how EVERYTHING in the house belongs to his mother and me. Nothing belongs to them. They pay for nothing. They get everything. Free room and board, free Wi-Fi, free electronics, free clothing, free food, free electricity, free heat and air conditioning, free transportation, free bedding, free water, free sewer, free oxygen (supplied by God and plants)... and the list goes on.
So the least they can do is to show appreciation and respect by keeping MY and his mother's house clean!
Do you know what that privileged child said in response? He had the nerve to tell me, his father, "Well, I didn't ask to be born."
His funeral will be at the end of the week. Time to be announced. Bring liquor, a shrink, and a massage therapist!
Albeit I don't drink, these privileged children have certainly made me have to go get saved, again. And again. And again. At this point I'm not sure I'm gonna make it to heaven, because they make me question my salvation! Not to mention, they often push me to the point where I say, "I'm gonna send you back to Jesus, because at this point, He's the only one who can save you!"
But, in all reality, and humor aside, parenting is a double-edged sword. It is both a blessing and a curse. It is heaven and hell. It is bright and beautiful and dark and ugly at the same time. Sometimes, we, as parents, forget our children are individuals, not clones. We struggle to find balance between discipline and dictatorship, accountability and responsibility, freedom and protection. On one hand I never want them to leave, because they are my babies and I am their protector, leader, deliverer, guide, teacher, friend, mentor, and I want to be their hero. Don't we all want that as parents?
And in the same breath, these same fruit of our loins (my children hate it when I call them that) can destroy your very sense of being, crush your heart like a bulldozer, and destroy every ounce of hope you have for their futures.
How much does God, as our parent, often feel crushed by His privileged, ungrateful children? Probably far more than we could imagine.
He loved us so much that He became flesh and died for us, even though we wouldn't necessarily do the same for Him.
There is a harsh reality we face as parents - the fact that our unconditional love is far greater than our children can imagine, and much deeper than they can comprehend. At the same time, we don't always know if their love for us is equal. And more often than not, it seems their selfish desires, worldly influences, and passion for independence overshadows any love they have in return.
Last year, I faced a near death experience, when I was hospitalized for a week with COVID-19. The first words out of the doctor's mouth in the ER was, "I need you to listen to me very carefully," as his concerned look got my attention. "If you do exactly what we tell you to do, you'll make it out of here. But if you don't, you'll end up on a ventilator and I don't know if I can save you," he said.
That was a major wakeup call for me. I won't lie, it scared the you know what out of me! When I was rushed out of my home in the ambulance, the last faces I saw were my children and wife standing on the front lawn. They could not come with me, nor were they allowed to visit due to the pandemic. I was physically all alone in a hospital and unsure if this was going to be my final step toward eternity. I trusted my Father to hold me, help me, heal me, and love me with His warm embrace as He has so many times before. But, in the same breath, I begged Him not to let me leave just yet because I want to see the day when my children know Him more and finally understand how deeply a father's love is.
We are all privileged children. We all desire our freedom and independence. We want what we want when we want it, and our selfish ways often get in the way of understanding that true privilege and true freedom and independence comes from knowing Jesus as our Savior - God in the flesh - who lived and died so we could know the depth and width of His great love for us. And yes, we take it for granted every day!
We, too, often disrespect God, disobey His rules (which are actually foundation truths that protect and provide for us), and forget that nothing in this world belongs to us. It is given to us by our Father, and all He asks for in return is respect, appreciation, and love. Is it too much to ask for all He has given me?