World Congress of Families IX: How parents can help children avoid the entitlement trap

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Richard and Linda Eyre describe how to help children learn ownership, rather than entitlement, during the World Congress of Families. (Aaron Hastings)

Authors and consultants Richard and Linda Eyre addressed the World Congress of Families Friday on “proven techniques for raising responsible kids and avoiding the entitlement trap.”

“We try to teach parenting and marriage, and we end up learning along the way,” Richard said.

The Eyres have nine children ad 27 grandchildren, and have incorporated their experience, along with research, into their techniques for raising children.

“Every parent has a yearning to teach their children good values,” Richard said.

The Eyres sited a number of problems facing parents, predominately a sense of entitlement from children, but they outlined several ways to counteract such an attitude.

“Have a family narrative,” Linda said. “Let your children know where they came from. Teach them the hard times that their grandparents and great grandparents overcame.”

Linda said this family narrative can help to teach children that life can be difficult, but they can be successful by following their predecessors’ examples of hard work.

Richard mentioned the use of “grandfather’s secrets,” a series of wise sayings he passes on to his grandchildren.

“Most kids are waiting for someone to lead them, but they just don’t know it yet,” Richard said.

The Eyres emphasized the importance of counteracting entitlement with ownership given to their children.

“We are the only ones that can solve entitlement,” Richard said. “You need to give kids ownership. They need some skin in the game. When they feel like they have equity, they are motivated.”

The Eyres said techniques for ownership can include a banking system in correspondence with chores, having zones of responsibility over rooms in the home, and having “family laws” decided upon in family meetings.

“Your young son or daughter doesn’t need a friend; they need a parent,” Richard said. “It gives them a sense of security and safety. Your home can be a safer, more forgiving microcosm of the real world, and thus prepare young children to live in, but not be of it.”

The Eyres also emphasized that they aren’t perfect parents, and that techniques for raising children differ among children.

“You should treat your children differently. They are all different,”  Richard said. “Some children are easier to raise than others. The closest we come to preaching is when we try to beg [people] to say ‘in ten to fifteen years, you might still have your careers, hobbies, and golf games, but you will not have your kids at home.’

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