Search the site
huffington
foxfriendslogo-thumb

How to Decrease Entitlement: Combine Rights and Responsibilities

About a month ago, we posted an article on this blog page about how empowered today’s students are—possessing the ability to post content without the need to go through any authorities; to learn information without the need of an accompanying teacher or parent. You get the idea.

One insightful reply to the article came from Cheryl Buford. She wrote:

I appreciate the points that Tim makes in this blog post. There are definitely many ways that Gen Z can take action without the mediation of their parents (i.e. recording music, self-publishing a book, etc.). At the same time, I’ve observed what seems to me to be an unhealthy sense of entitlement by many in this generation that their parents should support them financially – even though they want secrecy around their personal lives. Institutions encourage this as well. For example, in our community, children can get their own library card. At the age of 13, the library asserts that they have a right to privacy and librarians aren’t allowed to tell parents what books their children have checked out. Yet, if the book gets lost or is turned in late, who is responsible for paying the fine? The parents are, of course. Obviously, families can navigate this and other scenarios with their own rules and expectations. It just makes it harder when our culture and our public institutions promote the idea that students have a right to their independence and privacy, but parents have a responsibility to continue supporting them financially — no matter what.

Our Challenge in Today’s Society

Today, we live in a unique period of time where we’ve taught our kids to advocate for their rights (which is a good thing), but we’ve done so without combining it with equal responsibilities. By this I mean, we’ve often neglected to teach that all rights come with corresponding responsibilities. In Cheryl’s illustration above, a young teen can acquire a library card—but misusing that card penalizes the parents, not the teen, who enjoys the right. This leads to an imbalanced worldview and sends them off to college with a sense of entitlement that professors must help them navigate.

We must find ways to help them succeed without violating how life works. Society has equations at work; benefits and consequences to our actions. We must find age appropriate methods to enable them to see how these equations work:

  1. A misused library card that penalizes the parent isn’t the best method. The child enjoys the right to privacy without the responsibility for that privacy. I believe this is unhealthy for an adolescent whose brain is still developing.
  2. A school that prevents teachers from giving poor grades for poor work isn’t helpful. A Florida teacher was recently fired for refusing to give a 50% grade to students who turned in no assignment. It’s a right without responsibility.
  3. A teen whose parents purchase them a car, then pay for all expenses (a marvelous right for any teen) without an accompanying responsibility of purchasing gas or insurance. Kids gain a wrong preview of life and adulthood.

Rights Must Always Include Accompanying Responsibilities

My big idea here is not to refuse students grace or mercy or second chances when they make mistakes. Adults can always offer such grace in particular situations. What I am saying is—we must prepare young adults for a world that has both rights and responsibilities. I often see high school or college students being fed a diet of “rights” without any mention of duties. One college instructor told me a student demanded a good grade in his class because his parents “paid the tuition.” This is a misconstrued perspective on rights and responsibilities. So, consider these suggestions:

1. Whenever you create a new rule, be sure you communicate both the right and the responsibility for that rule.

2. Whenever students (or your own kids) demand a “right” determine what the accompanying responsibility should be before you give it to them.

3. Teach students that rights are earned through trust. If parents pay for their child’s phone, they have a right to look at their social media account. Over time, the child may earn the right to privacy by trustworthy actions.

4. Consistently communicate how healthy lifestyles operate:

  • When a teen turns 18, they can enlist to serve in the military, but they also gain the right to vote for their chief executive officer.
  • When a person only rents an apartment, they’re not responsible for the grounds maintenance; when they buy a home, they are. They own it.
  • When a person earns an income, they are responsible to pay taxes on it. Without a job, there’s no responsibility to pay income taxes.

Everything is a “trade off.” That’s how life works. That’s how choices work.  When we provide a life with only one of the two (rights or responsibilities without the other) we do a disservice to our young adults. Rights and responsibilities are navigated best through trusting relationships between the student and adult.


This Week Only:
Save Over 33% on the Best-Selling Habitudes Bundle

Today’s world is full of noise, distractions, and poor leadership examples, making it increasingly difficult for teens and young adults to develop into effective leaders. In an effort to help you lead the next generation, we have bundled together the four best-selling Habitudes books.

The Best-Selling Habitudes Bundle helps students and young adults:

  • Build strong character based on integrity and emotional security.
  • Choose their own set of core values for making wise decisions in life.
  • Handle criticism and use feedback for personal improvement
  • Master the transitions from school to college and college to career.
  • . . . and many more!

Don’t Miss Out: This special ends on Sunday, October 28th at midnight!

Order Now

3 Comments

  1. Lorena Wood on October 24, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Combining responsibilities with “rights” does make sense but let’s remember that in the example of the library card, (In Cheryl’s illustration above, a young teen can acquire a library card—but misusing that card penalizes the parents, not the teen, who enjoys the right.) Parents still have the leverage to charge their kid for the fees or inflict consequences. We may be held “legally” responsible, but we can pass that fee onto our kids in a variety of ways that will hurt and help growth. We are not helpless as parents with our arms tied behind our back and tape over our mouth. No, As long as a kid is living in our home, there should be clear connection between responsibilities and privileges. We need to make it clear, without a shadow of a doubt, that your actions bear fruit, always! There is nothing in this life that we do, that doesn’t bear fruit. Fruit may be slow in coming but it does come. And let us remember that the majority of things are not a “right,” and we all need to remember this. Our parenting, teaching in every area of life needs to model this starting in toddlerhood. If you make a mess you clean it up, pick your toys up, loose a privilege, pay $ out of your piggy bank, want a phone? save and pay for it and the monthly charge, if you break it too bad-buy a new one. For example when my daughter was around 9 or 10 she and a friend set a string maze of traps including water buckets etc. in his room to trap his mom. His mom went into the room and knocked over a couple “traps.” When we got home I made our daughter write an apology letter and use her own $ to buy a $10 coffee gift card for reparation. We need to get back to the Biblical example of restitution. When our kids do harm in any way, make them pay back enough that it hurts them.

  2. Forte Strong on October 30, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    It is so important to teach kids about responsibility while they are still under their parents’ roof and the consequences for messing up are relatively small. The teenage years are the perfect time to learn that rights come with responsibilities and real-life consequences if those responsibilities aren’t met. The alternative is learning it in adulthood, when missing a rent payment has much larger consequences than not returning a library book.

  3. […] What I love today: Tim Elmore’s advice on how to decrease […]

Leave a Comment





Continue Reading

How to Decrease Entitlement: Combine Rights and Responsibilities