Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Are you entitled to more because you have children?
I stood in the queue at the supermarket and giggled at the little boy sitting in the trolley in front of me. His face, hands and clothes were covered in chocolate and I said to his mother, "He looks like he's enjoyed that!"
She nodded, then looked around to make sure no one else was listening and whispered, "He actually grabbed it off the shelf but I let him take it because they need to learn not to put that stuff within kids' reach."
Oh. Um. Okay.
Self-entitled parents. The world owes them a favour - or at least a few chocolate bars - because they have children.
When my guest post at Mamamia was published this week, there were some commenters accusing me of being self-entitled because I'm a mother. They thought that in my recent job-hunting efforts I expected businesses to drop everything and say, 'A mother who wants us to employ her? And she wants to work only between the hours of 10 and 1 on days beginning with 'T'? And she's asking for a six-figure salary? Great! When can she start?'
I am, quite possibly, the least self-entitled person in the world. I've always known that I am responsible for everything I do. Everything. I'm the one who's so hell bent on being independent that I won't call anyone when I need help. The one who got a job as early in life as I could because I hated asking for money. I'm even the crazy person who had an offer from my employer to pay for my part-time post-graduate studies (I'm talking tens of thousands of dollars), yet declined and paid for it all myself so that I didn't feel I owed them anything. Yep.
Now, as a mother, I'm still the same. Sure, I agree that it can be difficult in shops with children, with things at easy grabbing reach. But I also think teaching a child that it's okay to steal is a somewhat skewed version of a value-system. It's treading into very dangerous territory.
No one owes me anything, and acting like a self-entitled parent would really just be teaching my child that the world owes her. That's not what I see as giving her the best possible start in life.
I want my daughter to have the ability to question things, to look at the big picture and ask for better treatment when necessary. I want her to know she's special and unique, and yet know that everyone deserves to be treated equally (idealistic? me?). She will know that there is right and there is wrong.
And, as sure as anything, I want her to be able to have a family and still have choices available to her. I want society to treat parents and children like normal human beings, to have compassion and understanding, and to see that there are times in your life when you need extra support.
This is not self-entitlement. It's called a community.
Posted at 9:23 AM