I've written plenty about attitudes of entitlement and where such entitlement comes from. After reading the continuation of a letter to Rebbitzen Jungreis in the Jewish Press there is no question that the chicken came first. Or would that be the egg? Oh well.
The letter writer talks about a friend and mother of six whose home was turned into a hotel by her four married children and grandchildren who never offered a hand, after the mother kashered her kitchen and cooked up a storm starting a month before Pesach.
The letter writer asks: "How is it that it doesn't occur to them that Mom may need a rest and they should take over? How is it that they never think of cleaning up or picking up after their kids or taking over the kitchen duties so Mom can sit at the table?"
I think the answer is SIMPLE. The mother has never asked (make that demanded) help and so no help is offered. It turns out that this
The mother says: I was afraid - I don't want to lose them. A long time ago, I learned that if you want to have a good relationship with your children, you have to zip your mouth and open your purse.
The hashkafah is a particularly warped one. Our goal as parents isn't to have a "good relationship" with our children, which seems to imply an absence of conflict, rather than an actual good relationship which would be defined by respect and caring. Rather our goal is to raise our young children and make the fully functional adults. While this mother's philosophy that she is simply an ATM who should do whatever is asked of her at the touch of a button, there are plenty of parents who try to make life such so pleasant and easy for their children that they eventually cripple them.
Those of us with kids in the younger set I'm certain have run into more than one younger child who can't put on their own shoes or clothing, won't walk a reasonable distance, can't use a table knife to spread peanut butter (this one got me riled up when we recently have a neighborhood kid over, 8 years old, parents don't let him use a kitchen knife. My 5 year old had to spread the peanut butter on his cracker). There are parents who have yet to let their nine year old cut with a regular knife. There are parents who call the schools every time their child has an unpleasant situation.
Once the kids get older and are more brand aware, which isn't all that old come to think of it. . . some of these kids who aren't spreading their own peanut butter yet are asking their parents for $100 outfits. The kids asking for such things often have parents who buy into another facet of this philosophy, i.e. our kids can't be left out so we much do everything that other parents are doing. Doesn't help that the "Goldberg's kids" are setting some ridiculous trends. I sat in shock as a in-law of an in-law talked incessantly about how she was so happy to find some sort of Juicy Couture knock off for one-third the cost for her 8 year old. The mother has yet to put two and two together, but complains that her kids are really picky about what they wear, imperfections with their clothing, etc. Hello!
As it has been said, bigger kids, bigger problems. Things get really dicey with older children. I know a mother who wonders how her son can spend so much money when he takes his wife and kids on a trip to the US. This money is in addition to the monthly check they send, as the parents have been supporting their son and daughter-in-law for many years now. His mother wants him to get a job because she feels drained by all of the support. It bothers her that the son isn't making any move towards work, although she has addressed her hope that he will start to make the shift from the beit midrash to some type of parnasah. But, she won't pull the plug. In her words: "What can I do? I can't let them starve." A simple survey of economics or human behavior will show that when others pull weight for someone, that the same someone is less inclined to pull their own weight. I doubt they will starve.
I think the bottom line in child rearing (an old fashioned term I know) is that you don't do for your child what they can do for themselves.