Wise discipline imparts wisdom; spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents. Proverbs 29:15
By Maxine Marsolini
Ethan Crouch. His case made national headlines twice: The first time was when a psychologist testified for the defense that Mr. Couch had “affluenza” and was too influenced by privilege and his parents’ permissiveness to know right from wrong.
Teenager Ethan Crouch took acting out to the extreme. Four people died and two more were injured by a young man who wasn’t accustomed to exercising appropriate boundaries. The deeper I dug into his story, the more news I uncovered that confirmed he grew up feeling entitled to get what he wanted. He seemed to lack empathy for who might get hurt. His parents had failed to instill a wholesome sense of responsibility into this young man. Instead, when a problem arose, they took his side, blamed others, and bailed him out. Dealing with natural consequences for his actions wasn’t part of his upbringing. Money was thought to solve all problems.
Your son or daughter isn’t likely to commit such a terrible act, but could still be suffering from affluenza. In many ways, today’s culture breeds entitlement afflicted children. Credit cards are easy to use for parents who naturally want to give good things to their sons and daughters. But unless doling out money is balanced with teaching good work ethic, feeling entitled is what the child learns.
Entitled children have a deficit in empathy, meaning that they don’t feel how much they hurt others by their behavior.
When is the last time your child asked you to buy a computer related item, name brand piece of clothing, pricey concert ticket, or a car? How quick did you say “Yes”, or did you provide an incentive plan where some of that purchase could be earned through his/her contributing to the purchase? Delayed gratification is as profitable a lesson as is learning to work for what you get. The earlier a child learns both lessons, the better.
When is the last time you allowed your tween or teen to take consequences for specific actions? Maybe he or she got a failing grade in science class because they put off doing an assignment. Did you get irate with the teacher for making the class too hard? Did you point out that the work was his or her responsibility and give ideas for better time management? Did you suggest she apologize to the teacher and ask if the grade can be brought up to a passing level with an extra credit assignment?
Parental love can’t afford to take the easy way out. Love teaches lessons meant to last a lifetime; that consequences are the manifestation of choices made—good or bad. Seeds of empathy for others and working to get what we want are sown. Love instills those lessons needed to one day face life as a responsible contributing adult who feels pride in a job well done.
Ethan Couch, ‘Affluenza’ Teenager, Had Last Party Before Fleeing, Officials Say, By MANNY FERNANDEZ, RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA and AZAM AHMEDDEC. 29, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/us/affluenza-ethan-couch-mexico.html?_r=0
 Dr. John Townsend is the New York Times bestselling author of “Boundaries” and the newly released, “The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success In Doing Hard Things the Right Way” (Zondervan, October 2015).
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