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But I Deserve It

Michal Eisikowitz

Entitlement — the go-to word for everything wrong with today’s generation. Is there really more entitlement today? What creates it? How does it affect family dynamics? What is the long-term damage? And how can we combat it?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Voices Three people grappling with the effects of entitlement offer a slice of their lives.   Zvi, age 48 Another day, another battle. I am so tired of fighting. And the worst part? Even when I win, I lose. Today, it was about sleepaway camp. Chasya and I felt 8 T-shirts were more than enough; Shira insisted she couldn’t do without 12. And forget 10 pairs of socks; she couldn’t manage without 15. Plus, a new pair of Nikes (only Roshe!) was “basic.” Everyone in camp would have them. I felt like crawling back into bed. Being a parent in this generation is a catch-22. If all their friends have it, if all their friends get it sponsored, you’re the bad parent when you don’t provide. Even the professionals join the chorus: “Get him that Borsalino, or his social life will be ruined!” “You want your daughter to be the only one in class without Venettinis?” My children know our finances are precarious, yet they’re still resentful! My older kids won’t say anything out loud, but the negative vibes are there. They watch friends cruise around in late-model Infinitis and their resentment simmers inside. My younger marrieds and teens, though, are embarrassingly overt with their expectations. Recently, my third daughter became a kallah. Her take-charge older sister decided we were throwing the l’chayim of the century. “Ta, I’m picking up really elegant paper goods — square, and hard plastic,” she informed. “We’ll get two Siegelman cakes, four fruit platters, and some petit fours. It won’t cost a fortune to rent Mimi’s mini chocolate fountain.” I looked past her, squirming inside. I had no desire, intention, or ability to make an extravagant l’chayim. Why couldn’t I just say that? By the end of the conversation, it still wasn’t clear who’d be footing the bill. “Um, Ta, can I have your credit card?” “Uh… I misplaced it,” I blurted out. A funny look. An exasperated sigh. “Ugh, just forget it!” She stormed out. Later, I found out she shelled out several hundred dollars for the spread, most of which remained untouched. I know we have a communication problem. I should’ve just calmly stated we didn’t have the money, but she was welcome to buy things herself. I think the reason I flee from money conversations is because my kids can’t hear them. Everyone else manages! I can almost hear them howl. This is the norm! So my wife and I live with conflict, constantly at odds with our teens, struggling to convey that we don’t agree with their expectations. It’s like talking to a wall. 

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