an unhealthy sense of entitlement
0 comment Saturday, May 24, 2014 |
I went to a highly rated University and was pretty much the only working class student in my whole department. In my year, there were only three other people who went to a comprehensive school, the rest were privately educated. In the year below me, they had all been privately educated. Every student apart from me had parents who were well off and their background gave them a sense of entitlement that I had NEVER come across before. These kids suffered no doubt that their lives were going to be fantastic. Life was just there for the taking and they knew they would be taking it.
That, we might say, is a healthy sense of entitlement. They weren't necessarily narcissistic or overly competitive - although some undoubtedly were - they had just been brought-up to believe they were deserving of a great life with a fulfilling career.
There is an unhealthy sense of entitlement, though isn't there? We saw it with our MPs the other year. Yes, they were entitled to expenses, but that entitlement had boundaries. It was after all tax payers money they were spending. What made them think anybody but themselves should be paying for their Duck Houses? And the bankers, yes, it's OK to make serious money, but at the expense of the stability of the global economy? And more recently we've seen it with the elite in the fields of media and the police, the you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours culture, where senior police went to lunch with newspaper executives they were supposed to be investigating. All of 'em getting away with anything they could get away with because they thought it was nothing less than they were entitled to.
We saw it too on the streets of our cities last week. The youth of England rising up not in anger at politicians or in a cry for democracy like their European and Arab counterparts, but in search of free stuff. Thousands of 'em, thinking they could just nick stuff and rob and loot and get away with it. Thinking they were somehow entitled to do what they were doing.
It's made me worried about my son. He has a massive sense of entitlement. If he wants something, he thinks he should have it, and he will tantrum if he doesn't get it. If he wants to do something and is told that he can't, he will tantrum. Every single time. I presume this tactic worked very well for him in his birth home. I can just imagine his birth mother or poor feckless elder sister just giving into his demands for that drink, or that toy, or not having to go to bed just for a quiet life. It doesn't work in this family, but that has not made the slightest difference to him. If he wants something and he's told no, he will scweam and scweam and scweam.
These are not the rages of the child who is struggling with emotions that are too big for him. Although he does have those rages too. These are the tantrums of a toddler who wants to make his mummy give him his sweeties.
I have been trying all this time to teach him more socially acceptable ways to express his disappointment or politer ways to ask for what he wants. I try and defuse his tantrums with humour and wishful thinking. I try not to use the word 'no', being clever and kind when I don't grant him his wish. I try to get him to act like an eight year old rather than a three year old, giving him a chance to see how the world opens up and gives you more the older you get.
None of it has worked and I am getting worried.
It's not just his materialism, although That's bad enough, or the frustration of not being able to do what he wants to do, it's also his opposition to having to do anything he doesn't want to.
The Explosive Child is my bible and it has made a difference to his behaviour. But this weekend things were bad enough for me to realise that my parenting is making all the effort, he isn't making any.
After a day of toddler tantrums I lost it with him on Saturday night. I ended up shouting at him that I had given him a fantastic day, a fantastic holiday, a fantastic life and that I was sick of him screaming and that he was just going to bloody well do what he was told. It seemed to me that he enjoyed my being angry at him. He really let rip. The angrier I got, he met it and upped it a level. I couldn't compete. He is capable of staggering levels of anger, far beyond what I can manage. I broke when he started screaming that I wanted to kill him, that I wanted him dead.
I am left feeling thoroughly ashamed of my loss of temper, but I don't see any shame in him. He got up the next day, business as usual, whilst I could barely function.
I don't think I can change him. I don't feel that I can make him better. I've tried everything for nearly two years and I've not made the slightest dent in his wall of opposition. He wants what he wants and he will fight to the death to get it because he thinks he is entitled.
I am depressed seeing all these images of youths in Adidas tracksuits in the newspapers this weekend, smashing in shops and looting plasma TV screens. I am worried that one day that may well be him.

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