Give Me Get Me Buy Me is the title of Donna Corwin’s recent book. Subtitled Preventing or Reversing Entitlement in Your Child’s Attitude, it proved itself to be an interesting read. I’ll first offer the mandated FTC disclosure, I received a copy of the book in exchange for this review through the kind people at TLC book tours. I am the father of an 11 year old girl and when I read the description, I felt this book fit within my personal goals as well as the scope of my blog.
On one hand, this book is brief, 9 chapters over 180 pages in a trade paperback. On the other hand, the author wastes no time tackling the issue at hand, keeping the anecdotes short, as a way of illustrating a given scenario, and offering a path to solving the particular behavioral issue being addressed.
The first chapter discusses the external pressures which begin innocently enough but result in our creating the sense of entitlement in our children. We want ‘the best’ for our children, don’t we? Once we get beyond the safety issues (yes, the stroller and crib need to be sturdy and safe) we move toward the designer realm and once the train has left that station, we don’t know how to stop. One only need to Google “designer diaper bags” to understand this point. There is a combination of pressure from the media and from our peers to focus on possessions and to strive for bigger and better status symbols. Advertisers have made an art of convincing us that we need and in fact, deserve, the latest gizmo, larger, flatter TV, bigger house, etc. Our children have become aware of the cars their friends’ parents drive, the size of their houses, the vacations they take. All of this lends itself to a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ for both parent and child. When this is identified and understood, we can begin to address it.
We move along to better understand how our own views on money, possessions, and instant gratification originated and are passed down to our children. Maybe when we grew up we didn’t have all the things we wanted and are now overcompensating by trying to not have our children want for anything. Perhaps we were spoiled, and having everything handed to us, continue that mentality for the next generation. The author makes no claim to any background in psychology, but from reading this book, this section especially, her understanding of human nature really come through.
Through the rest of the book, the author offers practical, concrete advice to move our child away from the ‘give me’ attitude to one that’s less selfish, less entitled. For the younger child, she suggests a point system, rewarding positive behaviors and actions, while removing points for improper behavior. For older children, strategies include regular family meetings to keep the dialog going and to set expectations. I was pleased to find an abundance of advice that I plan to adopt in my own attempts at being a better father.
One suggestion I’d offer, perhaps one which the author took for granted, is that unless you are a single parent, both parents need to read this book, together if possible. Any suggestions you’d implement to induce change within the family dynamic should really be a two parent effort. If for no other reason, children should see their parents on the same page for the major issues. It would be quite the failure in communication if the child discovers that mom is the strict “we can’t afford that” parent, yet dad pulls his wallet out at every request (or vice versa). My next step is to leave my copy on my wife’s night table and encourage her to discuss it with me chapter by chapter.
Giveaway: The publisher has offered to share a free copy with my readers. I will hold a random drawing of those who offer a comment to this post. The drawing will be held the weekend of March 27-28. Good luck.