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matters. My husband and I use the “K” word probably more than any other in our
home. Sure, it’s usually to point out what one of our daughters did that wasn’t kind, but we make a point to acknowledge
them on their actual acts of kindness, too. As a mom, I strongly believe it’s
the most important thing I can pass onto my kids—that they need to leave
the house every day thinking of others in addition to, and sometimes ahead of, themselves. Everything else will follow, I reason.
I’m starting to re-think that. It’s not that I’m thinking kindness matters
less, but after reading about a 21-year-old named Caitlyn
Ricci from New Jersey on Yahoo Parenting, I’ve changed my mind and realize teaching my kids not to
be self-entitled spoiled brats might be a wee bit more important. Even if for
just self-preservation (mine, not theirs).
is celebrating after her parents lost a court battle again (against her!),
with a judge ruling they must pay for her college tuition. Her parents, who say
she could have tried applying for more loans and scholarships, are disputing
the $16,000+ sum. They are divorced and remarried with younger children and claim
out-of-state tuition is too pricey for them.
insult to injury, Caitlyn moved in with her grandparents a few years ago after
deciding the chores, curfew and summer school scheduled imposed on her by her
parents were too rigid (although Caitlyn maintains she was thrown out of the
house). Caitlyn knew moving out would mean her father’s child support
obligations would be voided—and yet she sued them for a new car and
college contributions regardless.
important to note here that there is precedence in the law in New Jersey saying
that “financially capable divorced parents” can be made to contribute to the
cost of college (earlier this year an 18-year-old New Jersey
girl sued her parents for access to a college fund after they kicked her out of the house when she
wouldn’t break up with her boyfriend).
One way you could look at Caitlyn’s side is she’s just going after what she’s
entitled to—despite the fact that she’s been a legal adult for four
years, plenty of kids have to pay their own way toward a higher education and
her parents would have willingly helped out had she acted in a kind and
respectful manner. Or you could see it as she’s an entitled kid who think
she’s owed everything and owes nothing in return.
It would seem as if there might be some benefit to continuing to reinforce the value of being thoughtful, compassionate and grateful beyond the first few years in life.
also important to note, of course, that not all kids act so entitled. Some of
them are hustlers and go-getters. Gratitude
runs through the veins of plenty of children, too. While adults who are capable
of paying for, or at least contributing in part, to their children’s education
usually do so, compelling your parents through legal channels to fork over the
cash after you’ve shown an utter disregard and disrespect for their rules?
Where’s the kindness? Or how about just some decency, and maybe a “please” and
“thank you” sprinkled in every now and again?
Caitlyn’s parents are to blame for how she turned out. How
Caitlyn has behaved with her four years of freedom, and other than staying
focused on getting an education, is pretty appalling. You can only blame your
parents up until a point, though. When you’re a grown-up, you need to take responsibility
for fixing what others broke in you and move on. Hopefully Caitlyn can take
advantage of how she’s had her bills paid for her and eventually pay it
lessons on kindness are mostly taught to preschoolers and Kindergartners, but
it would seem as if there might be some benefit to continuing to reinforce the
value of being thoughtful, compassionate and grateful beyond the first few
years in life. Entitlement can happen quickly, but more so when you just
weren’t paying attention. There is a great power that comes with simply getting
older. It’s the job of parents to best arm our kids with the tools necessary to
use it responsibly—and hopefully not against us.