I know that sounds horrible, but I really don’t believe any parent sets out to raise a self-indulged, arrogant person who rubs folks the wrong way at work, church, and home . But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, things happen– or don’t happen– and children leave the nest with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and a nasty attitude.
This jerk epidemic, ladies & gentlemen, is universal. Jerks are not limited to one race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class. They are as common as flu virus we’ll all be avoiding in a month or two, and twice as infectious. And, I hate to admit it, but I see jerk tendencies in one of my children. While I realize that selfish behavior is common at age 8, I find that as he grows he becomes harder to handle. I won’t blame anyone for it, but I can say that this little nastiness won’t be tolerated in my home. Y’all pray for me. Pray for his rear end too.
And so this morning on my drive to work, I thought of men and women who are self-confessed jerks and connected the dots. Sometime back in the 80’s lived a child with a strong sense of self, wasn’t disciplined, didn’t learn to care for others, only sought his or her own purposes, and now walks around with 8-year old sensibilities though he or she may be 28 or 38. Ugh. If this is you, I’m sorry. But let’s grow together. Lol.
Just in case you ever DID want to raise a jerk, here’s how to do it:
- Tell the child “no”, but give in. I’m bad with this, and this might be why my kiddo pushes me to the limit some days.
- Teach them that their qualities and gifts make them better than others. Bring balance to the conversation and help them find ways in which to grow as caring human beings.
- Teach them that everyone needs their help. As opposed to offering it kindly as a service, some feel they can fix others. God is not nearly as impressed with the act as He is with the manner in which we offer it.
- Allow them to think their rights and wants are more important than the needs of others. No parent directly teaches this (I hope), but if your child is a squeaky wheel he or she may get more oil than they really need. Teach them to hush up and submit to you and to their siblings. Then again, I have heard parents say things like “Get yours, boo boo. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise.” Bad business…
- Allow them to think that they’re blessed because of their own goodness. Nawl. It’s because you work hard and love their little stinking butts. Grace is a gift! Kids are capable of understanding this. When mine need a spanking, they request grace and mercy, and too often they get it.
- Permit them to speak their mind without reservation. I believe in open forums with respectful tone for the most part, but I don’t want my children thinking that they can speak all of their mind to the world. My daddy made me study frowardness as a child, and it taught me early on that it’s best to just keep quiet about most things and until I’ve acquired wisdom in that area.
- Give your child everything he or she wants. Say no at least 2 out of 5 times or as often as you need.
- Allow them to display their emotions any way they choose. Even when they’re tired or there’s tension in the family, a child should still be expected to behave. Give them space to vent, then reel them back in. Being tired or sad is not an excuse for being rude and disrespectful. Deal with whichever issue is more pressing first. Sometimes sadness or anger supersedes the need for discipline, other times they’re just being manipulative.
- Tear them down with harsh words and unkindness. Kids who are constantly belittled seek ways to build themselves back up. You ever met a State Trooper who was bitingly sarcastic and almost cruel? I suspect this is why.
- Withhold love and affection. Some days they can be so needy and I can be so empty, but I take a few minutes to gather myself, then give them the hugs and kisses they need. Without it children will surely act out and become hardened to affection as they approach adulthood. Unless you want your child’s future spouse crying on your shoulder, give your kids what they need while you still can.
I think we’d all agree we want our kids to be confident in who they are, but still compassionate towards others. I know that I have work to do with my little ones, but I’m determined to press forward until my kiddo is the kingly young man that God has destined him to be. I know you’ll do the same for yours.
With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
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