We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. –Herman Melville
I love my kids.
I know I have amazing children. So this is not a bash on my kids.
And don’t get me started on people who complain about “that generation.” It’s a pet peeve of mine. It happens over and over, every generation harping on the next …
That’s not what this post is about either.
Is it just me? Or are humans inherently selfish? (Or I guess the big buzzword these days is “entitled.”)
Maybe we’re just born that way. Maybe it’s about survival: we come programmed as self-centered beings to ensure our needs are met and we stay alive.
I don’t know. Is it just my kids? They seem kind of hard-wired to live in a fantasy where the world revolves around them. And from a parenting perspective, whether we choose to entertain that idea or fight against it, we are still completely wasted at the end of the day. Like … comatose-on-the-couch exhausted. (Right honey?)
Anyway … We can’t let that fantasy ride, right? Because at some point our children have to enter the real world and realize that it doesn’t revolve around them. And plus if kids know that, they are much more pleasant to be around aren’t they?
But how do we teach them?
What do you do at your house? No seriously … I’m really asking. Because a lot of the time, I feel like I’m failing here.
We live in a funny world. Everything is so push-button, immediate gratification, and end-result focused. What happened to finding joy in the journey?
Personally I’m trying to teach my kids to slow down, unplug, and enjoy the little things. And I’m hoping those lessons will, in turn, help them to be less self-centered.
I taught my oldest how to sew.
Screen-free week was a hit (mostly).
We grow things like butterflies and raisins and gardens.
We earn allowance and save up for things.
Hopefully all these mini lessons are sinking in and creating more patient little people that will mature into more giving grown-ups.
Last but not least, I’m trying to teach my kids to be kind to others. It’s harder than it sounds though, isn’t it? A little at a time:
We feed baby animals or visit a nursing home or donate toys to less fortunate kids. At Christmas, we sneak around the house and do secret deeds for each other.
A few times for my son’s birthday party, which is near Thanksgiving, he has asked for canned food rather than presents and then donated to a food drive! He is such a cool kid!
Currently, we’re focusing on service as a family. I guess that’s really what triggered this post in the first place. Every time we do something nice for someone, we write it on a handprint and tape it up on the laundry-room door. It’s been kinda fun! (I got the idea here.)
But at the end of the day … Why are my kids still self-absorbed stinkers???
Not all the time … But a lot of the time!
Truthfully it causes me to check myself. Do I think of others first? Am I inclined to remember that the world does not revolve around me?
In a culture where “selfie” is a word, can we really blame our kids for being so self-centered?
I guess putting others first just takes practice.
Just like all things in parenting … and life.
Because that’s how we roll. Right mamas?
Keep on truckin’.
(P.S. I really do want to hear your thoughts and ideas on this one! Leave me a comment! Send me some links!)
Related Links/Ideas for Combating ‘Selfie-Centered’-ness:
10 Ways to Serve Your Community by Randall Hansen, PhD
15 Ways to Love Your Neighbor by Joanne Brokaw
JustServe.org matches faith, nonprofit, community and governmental organizations that need volunteers with volunteers willing to help.
This article was also published as part of the “Question of the Week” series on Power of Moms.
3 thoughts on “‘Selfie-Centered’ Kids?”
I doubt your kids are particularly self-centered. Yes, we all come wired with a limited perspective and broadening our viewpoint takes years and years. Some of us are born with empathy, some of us achieve empathy, and others of us have to have it thrust upon us (and then there are the sociopaths …). It IS exhausting, absolutely exhausting, but it sounds as if you are doing an exemplary job and you set a stellar example for your kids with your work fighting exploitation.
What makes it hard for parents, I think, is that we are often the last to see the way our kids understand the needs of others. At first, we are too much a part of them for our kids to recognize our needs as separate from theirs, and when they DO get around to realizing that they and we are not one, it’s because they’ve reached adolescence and want nothing more than to reject us. But at school or friends’ homes they may be the epitome of kindness, consideration, and conscientiousness. I was ready to drop my kids off at the nearest dragon’s cave because of their rude and often hurtful argumentative orientation during their teens. But one was constantly helping out the over-worked mothers of her friends and looking out for her peers, going to school functions to interpret for parents for whom English was a second language. She was every teacher’s favourite student. My other child disappeared in the grocery store one day; my husband found him trailing someone in a scooter, helping him reach items on the shelves and carrying the overflow. Another night my son made my husband stop and pick up a very intoxicated man who was literally falling into traffic, get him to safety, and wait until the police came to take him somewhere safe.
Your boys sound great. Hang in there. In another decade or so you’ll see that all your hard work has paid off.
Ruth, You’re my hero. Thanks so much for your perspective and thoughtful reply. You’re right, of course. I just need to stop. And breathe. And believe in my kids. Right?! They ARE amazing! 🙂
Breathing and believing — definitely! But as you know, there’s no stopping : ). Hence the exhaustion.