A Surprising Cause of Entitlement

If you have watched the new season – or really any season – of The Crown, you realize that the British Royal family (at least in the past) didn’t possess the best parenting skills. In fact in one episode, Queen Elizabeth asked her secretary to compile dossiers on her own children so she would appear informed about their lives when she spoke to them.

When people talk about children who are entitled, they assume the children have been spoiled. The picture of a helicopter parent hovering over the child, preventing any harm and keeping the child spoiled and happy at all times is a quite popular explanation of a generation or two of entitled children, teens and adults.

The reality though is often much sadder, and not unlike the experience of Queen Elizabeth’s children. Children spend most of their days away from their parents – often beginning a few weeks after birth. When they are with their parents, the parents are too engaged with work, their own relationships or leisure pursuits to give their kids much meaningful attention. (Please understand, there are life situations that, at times, can’t be helped. Often those parents still find ways to be intentional with their kids when they can be with them.) When their children have a problem, these parents swoop in and fix it…because that is the quickest way to make the problem disappear. It’s just too difficult to coach and teach a child through a problem.

For years now, I have watched children beg and plead with their parents to listen to them for thirty seconds. I constantly have strange children walk up to me in public and talk my ear off, because they can sense I will actually listen. I have even watched more than one parent walk their child straight into a pole, because they aren’t paying attention to where they are dragging their child.

Any experienced teacher will tell you, that sometimes the child causing trouble in class is doing it to get attention. You see, when parents don’t give their kids the attention they need to be emotionally and spiritually healthy, children become desperate to fill the hole their parents were meant to fill. (Yes, there is a hole God is meant to fill, but this isn’t it.)

In The Crown, everyone but Queen Elizabeth seems to realize all of the acting out, the entitlement, the need to be the center of attention at all times of her four children comes from the lack of a close, loving relationship with their parents. This entitlement is perhaps partially from having too much money, but it’s mainly from the pain of feeling unloved and unseen by their parents.

Queen Elizabeth actually did get a bit of a wake up call when she had a private luncheon with each of her children. Through their conversations she was able to clearly see their entitlement, their selfishness, their mean streaks, their recklessness. When you look at the behavior and attitudes of your kids do you see kids who are basically loving, kind and generous or children who believe they should always get their way, and be the center of attention…and when it doesn’t happen, they are more than willing to take what they believe is rightfully theirs?

If your children are entitled from a lack of meaningful time with you, the fix is easy. Apologize to your kids. Spend meaningful time with them. Correct them. Coach them emotionally and spiritually – not just physically and academically. Make up for lost time as much as you can. You may be surprised to see your children slowly become who God meant them to be.

Published by

Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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