Generosity Gone Bad

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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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9 thoughts on “Generosity Gone Bad

  1. So true Jena! Sarah and I are going to make some blessing bags … Great idea ….thanks for all you do to take us women deeper … Miss you sister!

    • What a wonderful gift you are giving Sarah, my friend. Your investment of Jesus in her life is far more reaching than you as her mother could ever understand. Send me a pic of you and Sarah making them! I’d love to see it!

  2. So good- even us sinful and broken parents love to give to our children. How much more must our perfect loving Father love to give to us! Holding loosely to all we have and being willing to give and constantly “pay it forward” is so freeeing. Praying we can raise a new generation of world changers for Jesus by helping to train them in the ways of lavish kingdom generosity. Love you friend

    • When I read your comment, Dacy, I was reminded that the Word says that God gives us all things to enjoy; and part of our enjoyment comes when we give what He gives us away. Yes, may we raise up a generation behind us who sees the wealth they have been given and delights in giving it away!

  3. This is so true. I know of someone that their parents gave them everything they ever wanted. Once they became adults, it was hard for them to adjust to the real world because they never had to work for anything and were use to getting what they wanted. Too much of anything is not good for you, and in this case over giving to a child can do more harm than good.

  4. Loved the blog today!
    This just re-affirmed what it it is that I’ve been thinking about concerning “spoiling” kids. My husband & I have agreed and told the grandparents that for every new toy our kids receive at Christmas/birthdays they will give one away that they already have. This will help with the clutter control but also teach them that there is joy in giving. There is a local orphanage that we will most likely take the toys to.

  5. So true Jena! This is such a huge issue now. I have been thinking and talking about how different my grandparent’s work ethic was and how the world was so different back then. It seems people were not generally afraid of hard work and their was a lot of focus on family. I think also everyone in the family had roles and everyone knew it. I’m referring here to children and the expectations placed on them. I know from my grandparents money was earned, good grades were earned and obedience was expected. Children were not catered to back then in the way they are now where family life revolves solely around them and their desires. I think this is detrimental to their well-being and the family’s and definitely breeds the entitlement the college professor was referencing. Great post!

    • Pretty amazing how things have changed in our society, Aimee. So often, the marriage gets put on the back burner and the children take the front seat. That is detrimental to both the child and the marriage as the children grown into adulthood and leave the parents as emptynesters. The child becomes a narcissistic adult, and the parents often lose relationship. It is SO important to encourage them to give generously.