In Defense of Those Millennials – How to Show That Respect Is Earned
By Tyler Jacobson
Whenever I used to talk to my millennial, I quickly lost my patience. He acted entitled, sounded arrogant and had little drive to succeed. Then, I started to realize that his behavior had more to do with high expectations than real life situations. In addition, the nation seems more strongly divided and polarized than ever before.
I wanted to parent my son but show him that he could also trust me as a confidant. However, I needed to earn his trust and show him how he could earn mine. Even so, I did not want to be his friend. I knew that if I wanted his respect, I could not lower myself to that level. I needed to maintain my status as an authority figure to gain his respect and show him how that benefited him. From there, I hoped he would understand that respect is a two-way street.
If a child is going to respect a parent, that child needs clear boundaries. I needed to let my child know my expectations and hold him accountable for his actions. I created a system of rewards for positive behavior with consequences for negative behavior.
However, I wasn’t trying to “buy” his respect. I showed him that if he was true to his word, then I would be true to mine. Like most kids, he loves rewards and hates negative consequences. Thus, he slowly began to respect my consistency along with the fact that he knew what I expected of him.
Entitlement and Self-Respect
I come from Generation X, and I have never seen people act like this before. My son acted entitled, like the world owed him a great job and a comfortable living. For a while, I fought him on those ideas, so he pushed away from me. However, I applied the same type of reward system to his other tasks and suddenly, everything clicked for him.
My son used to think that he deserved a job while working as little as possible. I felt as though some of that was my responsibility since I did not follow through with making sure he did his chores when he was young. I work hard, and my son spent his whole life watching me provide for him and the family. I knew that self-respect was in there somewhere; I just had to find it and pull it out of him. I found it by rewarding him for good grades in school and enforcing consequences for bad grades. When he got his own job, I bought him a car with the condition that he paid for the insurance, maintenance and repairs. When he lost his job, I took his car off the road. He quickly found a new job!
My point is that he cannot respect me if he doesn’t respect himself. Millennials seem to think the rules don’t apply to them. They think that they should just be handed everything. I spent a couple of years showing my son that earning things is much more gratifying than being handed things. Not only does he respect me, but he learned to respect himself.
Modeling respect to any generation is difficult, but the entitled millennial generation makes it an almost impossible task. However, if you are honest with a millennial and develop a consistent system, then they will respect their property and privileges as well as the people that support them.
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