How Not To Raise An Entitled Brat

Raising Daughters | Entitled Brat

How sure are you that you’re not raising an entitled brat? We all have our best intentions in mind, but can we be absolutely sure we’re not leading our kids down the wrong path?


Adults these days worry that we are raising a generation of entitled and indulged brats. Employers complain that millennials walk into their first jobs expecting the corner office without putting in the time and effort. What’s the solution? Let me share a true story I heard of how a father decided to teach his son a lesson on responsibility and grit.


Look for Dr. Jordan’s new book for young adults and their parents entitled Letters From My Grandfather: Timeless Wisdom For a Life Worth Living.

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How Not To Raise An Entitled Brat

I want to talk about how to not raise an entitled brat. That’s a very negative title for an episode, but we’re worried these days about this younger generation. A lot of adults are worried that we’re raising a generation of entitled spoiled kids who lack ambition. I do know from reading a lot of history books that every generation’s adult has looked at the younger generation and said, “They’re soft, spoiled and not as tough as we were.”

I’ve read that before each of the world wars, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, there were lots of people writing about how soft the new people were who were trying to enter the armed forces. I don’t think it’s a new story exactly, and I also think that we’re more worried these days, perhaps, about Millennials.

I have traveled a lot all over the country and all over the world, talking to parents. A lot of people who employ Millennials complain that they’re walking into their first jobs expecting to corner office without having put in any time or effort. I had a CEO of a very successful company tell me that a young woman who he had hired the previous month called him one day and said she wasn’t coming in because she needed a mental health day. She didn’t feel like working that day because she was stressed.

I hear lots of stories like that. Thus, a lot of employers are worried that the new workforce doesn’t know how to work hard and doesn’t know how to stick with things. What’s the solution? If there’s some truth to that, there is some truth, I do think that we have done a lot of micromanaging, rescuing and fixing things for our kids over the years.

Let me share a story with you. It’s a true story. I heard it was about a dad who wanted to teach his son a lesson because he was worried that his son was becoming too entitled. This is a dad who was very affluent. He was worried about his son’s lack of ambition. His son came to him. His son, by the way, was about a junior in high school.

His son said that there was a school trip going to France in the summer and he wanted his dad to help him pay for it. He said it costs $3,000 and he needs to have the money soon. The dad said, “It’s a great opportunity for you to go to France and I’m not willing to pay $3,000. The most I’m going to do is to pay for half of it.” His son started to complain and, “Dad, you have plenty of money.” The dad said,” If you want to go, come up with half the money.” Half the money was $1,500.

The son said, “How am I going to get that money?” His dad said, “Think about it. Figure it out.” His son said, “You hire people every week to cut our grass. You pay them $50. How about if I cut the grass instead of them?” His dad said, “Great idea. I will hold you to the same standards that I hold those people. If you don’t do it well, I come out there and you’ve missed some places, I’ll deduct $10 for every spot you’ve missed cutting.” The son said, “Fine.”

The first week, he called his dad at the office and said, “Dad, I just finished cutting the grass.” His dad said, “Stay there. Let me come by and check it.” He went by and there were several places where his son had missed some strips or something. He showed those places to his son. He said, “I’m giving you this one free pass. From this point on, it’ll be $10 for any spot you missed.” The son got the message.

For the next several months, his son cut the grass every week. He did a great job and stuck with it. The night before he was going to leave for France, he told his dad that he had gone online. He had paid the $3,000, but there was an extra $100 for taxes or something like that. He needed another $100 from his dad. His dad said, “What was our agreement?”

The son said, “The agreement was you’d pay for half.” He said, “That’d be $50.” He said, ” I don’t have $50 to pay for my half.” His dad said, “You’re going to miss your trip.” His son was like, “Come on, it’s only $50.” Dad said, “An agreement is an agreement.” His son said, “How about if I cut the grass tonight?” His dad said, “If you can do the grass tonight, that’s fine.”

It was dusk. The sun was about to set and the son rushed outside and started cutting the grass at warp speed. His dad said he felt bad because it started to get dark. He went outside with a huge flashlight and helped his son so he could see the grass. His son finished the yard. His dad gave him the $50 and the son had the money. His son went to France. I wonder how many of you reading this would have caved. I wonder how many of you would have given the $3,000 at the beginning and made it easy for yourself and your son or daughter.

I wonder how many of you at that last night would have said, “It’s only $50,” and given in. I’m proud of this dad for holding the line because he made an agreement and he held his son accountable. One way to not raise entitled brats is to bring back some words in this culture, like sweat equity. Having some skin in the game and being invested. There’s too much of this just giving kids everything they want these days, whether it’s money, toys, freedoms, or privileges. Anything the kids want, we tend to give.

Raising Daughters | Entitled Brat
Entitled Brat: One way to not raise entitled brats is to bring back some words in this culture, like sweat equity.


Thus, instead of just giving, we should start doing a better job of having kids earn things, having them delay gratification. It can be anything. I remember one time, our youngest son, John, was probably about seven. We were at Toys R Us buying a present for one of his friends for his friend’s birthday party. Our son saw this cool Lego pirate ship. He said, “Will you buy the pirate ship for me?” We said to him, “We’re not willing to buy it, but you can if you want. Use the money you’ve earned. Use your allowance money.”

John went over to see how much it cost. It was like $75 and his eyes got wide. He was like, “It’s $75.” We were like, “Yes.” He looked and he thought. He finally decided it wasn’t worth it and he didn’t buy it. Now, if he had wanted it bad enough, he would have had to work for it. If he had done that, then it would have been a good experience for him.

I remember another time when our other son, TJ, was about eight. He started pestering us because he wanted a Game Boy or one of those Xbox things. I can’t remember. This was many years ago. We said, “No, we’re not willing to buy it. We don’t like those things. We don’t want it in the house.” He kept pestering us and finally had a family meeting when he was around 9 or 10 years of age, we finally said, “If you want one of those, we’re willing to let you have it on, but on three conditions.”

“Number one, you buy it. We’re not willing to put any money into that thing. Number two, we are going to have the final say on what games that you can play. Number three, we want to make some agreements about how long you can play and at what time. As long as you’re willing to agree to all those three things, then you can save your money and you can have your Game Boy.”

He got excited and it took him months to earn the money. He did odd jobs in the neighborhood. He collected pennies and dollars. Finally, 3 or 4 months later, he had his $150, which is what it cost at that time. He went to the store, counted out all of his little money, and was so proud of himself. I guarantee you, he took good care of that video game machine. There’s a huge sense of pride that came with him earning that for himself. He made it happen. It made him feel more grown up.

It gave him a sense of being more responsible and that’s the inherent good feelings that you want your kids to get when they earn things. There are good feelings inherent in a job well done. Every time we do for kids, pay for things for kids and give to them, we’re robbing them of opportunities to learn about self-efficacy and a job well done.

Start looking around for opportunities in your life to not give. Instead, give kids an opportunity to earn things. It might be toys, possessions or more privileges like kids may want to ride their bike farther down the street. I would start using some words like this, “As soon as you can show us A and B, we’ll know you’re ready for C. As soon as you can show us or the next months that you can take care of a fish or a hamster and you feed it, clean out the cage and take good care of it, if you do that for several months, you will have shown us that you’re ready to maybe start with a dog.”

Start looking around for opportunities in your life to not give. Instead, give kids an opportunity to earn things. Click To Tweet

You don’t give them the dog and hope they learn how to be responsible. They have to prove it over time. Not over two days or a week, but over months. If they can show you “A and B” then they’ve shown you that they have the level of responsibility to take care of another level of responsibility. You don’t just give. They earn it.

That can be true for having a pet. It can be true for whether or not they want to go to a movie by themselves on a Friday night with their friends or walk around the mall. Although, they don’t do that much anymore. If they want to have a car someday or want to go to college someday, you don’t get a car when you’re sixteen and go off to college when you’re eighteen. You have to show that you’re ready. You’ve earned that with your behavior over time.

One of the best ways to not raise an entitled brat is instead of giving, you start to allow kids to have some sweat equity, to invest some of themselves, some time and effort to learn how to do some work and to delay gratification. They can earn it. When you set up that A plus B and you’re ready for C, what you’ve said is the ball is in your court. If you can show us these behaviors over time, you’ve earned the right to have that thing.

It’s less about an age and it’s more about showing us. That’s a great way to avoid kids who are entitled brats and who don’t have any ambition. Thank you so much for stopping by here. I have a blog that comes out every other week. Check my website at and you’ll find that information.

Also, I want to let you know that I’m coming out with a new book and it’s geared for Millennials, ages about 17 to 25, and their parents. It’s entitled Letters from my Grandfather: Timeless Wisdom For a Life Worth Living. It’s a book full of wisdom about how they can find their way, their path, and their calling. Share these shows with all your friends. I appreciate it. I will see you back with a new episode. Thanks so much for stopping by.


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