I hope the title of this blog got your attention. Generosity gone bad? How in the world can generosity ever be a bad thing? You may have always thought of generosity as a good thing. But as with ALL things, generosity misused can certainly be destructive. Especially when it comes to our parenting.
My grandparents had very little. Their income was minimal and were doing good to have food on the table each day. They worked very hard for the little they had and did everything they could to give my parents a good education. My parents, then, were the first in my family line to get their college degrees, because their parents saved all they could to make sure they were able to go to college. They sacrificed. They worked extra jobs. They generously gave to their children, and their children were incredibly grateful, because hey knew the sacrifice. With each generation, I heard this phrase: “I wanted my children to have more than what I had.”
It’s a noble thing to want to give more to your children than you had. To give them a better education, more opportunities, and a better start in life, reveals the heart of parents who love their children very much. But what if I told you that our generosity can actually be doing more harm than good to our children?
Generosity Toward Our Children Can Be Detrimental
Here’s why I suggest this: many children, when they are constantly given to, become very entitled adults, thinking that everything should be freely given to them without much work on their part. When our children are constantly, generously given-to, they develop a sense of entitlement.
We had the privilege of eating breakfast with a college professor not too long ago. I asked him if he saw any differences in the students he had years ago and the students he has now. He immediately said that they were totally different. When I asked why, he said that the older generation of students knew the sacrifice their parents made to get them there, and developed good study habits which translated into hard work ethics in their employment. However, he said that the newest generation expected good grades to be given them, just because that is what they want. He told us of a young man who very rarely came to class, and very seldom turned in his assignments. When he took his final exam, he flunked the test. He brought his “F” paper to this professor and told him that he deserved an “A”. When the professor asked him why he thought he deserved an “A”, he said, “Because I showed up for the exam.” This young man truly believed that he was entitled to receiving an “A” in this professor’s class simply because he was present on the day of the exam. No hard work. No timely turning in of homework assignments. No all-night studying. No late night pizza while cramming for the final exam. Nope. He deserved an “A” simply because he came to class. Why did he feel that entitlement? Maybe because he had been given-to all of his life without ever having to lift a finger for it.
The Word of God does tell us to be generous. SO, how can we be generous to our children and not develop in them a sense of entitlement? I would suggest this: train them to be generous, with what you have generously given to them. Teach your children to “pay it forward“. Help them see by your example that not only do you give generously to them, but you also give generously to others, even strangers, who can never repay you. Make plans to carry your children to take their own money and buy the items for the “Blessing Bags” I talked about in the previous blog (click HERE to read). Take your children to serve at a homeless shelter, to make a meal for a family at Thanksgiving, or to buy Christmas presents for a child in need. This will free your child from the bondage of selfishness and entitlement. It will also develop in them a heart of gratitude for every blessing they receive. They will be grateful for your generosity, and will, in turn, graciously be generous to others.
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38
May we not grow entitled children, but grateful and generous children, because of the generosity they see in us.