The Real Meaning of Entitlement

In current political discourse there is a lot of talk about entitlements, and to be quite honest most of it is a pile of nonsense. Basic services are not entitlements. Food, clothing, and shelter are not entitlements, they are rights, and people who would like to receive the social security benefits they paid into are not “entitled.” I don’t want to talk about nonsensical notions of entitlement, or the greed of the small-minded, amoral asshats that fling such notions around like so many monkeys flinging poo. I’d like to talk today about some pretty disturbing, profoundly entitled beliefs I have encountered in my twenty-four year old daughter and her peers. I have had discussions with friends who have children in the same age group and other friends who teach at the university level and have been very disappointed to learn that my daughter’s beliefs are not unique. So, let’s begin!

When you live with your parents and pay no room or board, picking up after yourself (and your children) and occasionally doing some dishes does not make you “Cinderella.” You see, when adults live on their own they pay rent, they have to clean their apartment or house all by themselves or pay someone else to do it, and they have to do all of their own dishes. Oh, yes, and they have to buy all of their own food, cook all of their own meals and do all of their own laundry – or, again, pay somebody to do it. On top of that, they have to go to work and, if applicable, school. They must do all of these things all by themselves. Therefore, some housekeeping does not make one “Cinderella.” Some housekeeping doesn’t even qualify one as an adult.

A menstrual period is part of being female. Different women have different amounts of difficulty with their period, and it certainly can be unpleasant. However, the truth is that more or less fifty percent of the human race lives several decades of their lives having periods. A period is most definitely not an excuse for poor behavior! Do you know what we call people who behave poorly and attempt to blame it on their period? We call them jerks who won’t accept responsibility for their behavior. If you are struggling, consult your gynecologist and a therapist because the world is not going to put up with your nonsense.

The result of hard work is success – but not always. Working hard in school is your responsibility. When you work hard at school your reward is the satisfaction of getting good grades. You are not entitled to, nor do you deserve any sort of special reward for getting good grades. The good grades are your reward for hard work. You may choose to do other things to reward yourself, but the notion that you should be able to study abroad while your parents watch your young children for six weeks to three months is a delusion that borders on dementia. Welcome to reality.

Successful adults take responsibility for their mistakes rather than trying to blame them on something or someone else. It’s not particularly pleasant and sometimes it is embarrassing, but accepting responsibility for our mistakes builds something called character. Other responsible adults, including employers and potential mates, find character appealing. Excuses are a dime a dozen.

It is a profoundly bad idea to tell one of your parents – especially when you are living in their home with your young children for free and getting free babysitting services from them – to “go to your room and leave me alone!” You see, when you are living on the kindness of others the best policy is to kiss their behinds and appreciate the gift you have been given – assuming, of course, that you don’t want to learn what it really means to be an adult living on your own.

When you go to work you are protected by labor laws that mandate how many hours you must work to be entitled to a break. If you know that your scheduled shift is not long enough to entitle you to a break, it is your responsibility to eat before going to work. If you choose not to eat before going to work, it is not your employer’s responsibility to allow you to go on a break, nor is it appropriate to “snap” on your supervisor if they choose not to give you a break that you are not entitled to, nor is it appropriate to treat customers poorly because you are hungry. People who do these things are called “unemployed.”

I could go on and on, kids, but you either get it by now or you don’t. The only person responsible for your feelings, thoughts, and behavior is you. If you are having a bad day – as we all do from time to time – that does not give you permission to mistreat anyone else. As an adult, you need to deal with it like every other adult does. If you need help, you might ask a responsible person a bit older than you how they cope with bad days. Choose someone who has a full-time job and has held it for a while, because you can be pretty sure that they have developed effective coping strategies.

Above all, never look at someone more than twice your age and tell them they don’t know how hard it is to deal with what you are dealing with. I promise you they have dealt with at least twice as much. Get over yourselves.


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