The Instant Gratification Generation

By Guest Blogger Carol Cain

My teen has been working at adjusting his mindset to what he sees around him and his reality. What he sees around him: parents buying their teens expensive, out-of-the-box cars the minute they turn 17 and new iPhones the minute they hit the market. His reality: which does not suck I might add, is that his 17th birthday will be celebrated a week late because we blew all our money on plane tickets for him and the rest of the family to Turks and Caicos for a long weekend (did you know that flying to Turks and Caicos costs as much as flying to Europe during peak season? It’s no joke my friends.)

I am witnessing the pangs that come about when the instant gratification that the generation after ours and our kids’ generation are so used to isn’t met. And with every blow of not meeting that instant gratification need, I actually feel more empowered as a parent, because I can see what it has done to the 20 and 30 years olds out there (yes, I’m an old lady. Get off my lawn!) and it’s time we take back control of the situation people and stop raising little entitled monsters.

Though, again, Turks and Caicos does not suck, and if he complains I will happily take someone else more grateful in his place. So far, only tearful emoticons but no actually whining.

Will keep you posted…

About Carol Cain


Carol is a freelance travel writer and the blogger behind She’s the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn.

When I saw my Facebook friend Carol’s status update, with her permission, I turned that update into this blog post, because I think it speaks to a new generation of kids, Generation Z (children born between the years of 1994-2004), otherwise known as “Generation ME” or the Generation with a great “Sense of Entitlement.”

I did a TV segment about this generation… and while there are many wonderful attributes to this generation of tech savvy, quick witted children, there are downsides that you and I didn’t experience growing.

My husband and I have prided ourselves on raising unspoiled children. With the odd meltdown here or there, I can honestly say, these are good boys. (My 11 year old never asks for a thing, and my seven year old just wants candy all day, but overall… nice kids). We have, however, spoiled them with love, affection, nurturing, and always encouraged them to blossom, take risks and spread their wings. We are human, so when a sense of entitlement sparingly comes out to rear its ugly head, I try to immediately nip in the bud.

We are often a driving family… we drive to Maine in the summer (that’s five hours), we have driven a slew of times to Toronto with the kids, we even drive to New York. The kids LOVE road trips. We throw a few DVDs and snacks in the car, and off we go. Our boys are amazing travelers… no matter what the method of transportation– they can fly 6 hours without saying boo, they can ride in the car for hours. But I remember we took the boys to Toronto about 18 months ago, and we drove. We were expecting the usual easy breezy drive. Well, it wasn’t our usual 10/10 easy. It was more like a 6/10. Why? Well, our boys apparently preferred to FLY. They don’t pay, but they like the good life. :)

After hearing some kvetching in the back seat, I simply said, “It’s okay boys, we can turn around and go home or not go to The Hockey Hall of Fame if you guys don’t like the drive. Or better, we can leave you at home with your grandparents and we can go alone. No problem at all. It’s a simple choice.” Well, that shut them up quickly, but we still got a, “Why couldn’t we fly?” and better yet, my son who was five at the time said, “Why aren’t we going to Florida this weekend?” Wow.

And believe me, we ain’t no Spielbergs or Jolie-Pitters, but I ask you the way Oprah asked her guests… “How you do you raise unspoiled kids without a sense of entitlement when they are surrounded by abundance?” And I would like to emphasize, I do not mean abundance like private jets, drivers, big houses, chefs, and trips. No, I mean abundance of love, affection, nurturing, coupled with possessions that some children do have today, due to the GREAT personal and financial sacrifices made by their parents… private schooling for some, 1-2 cars per family, extra-curricular activities, some dinners out, some vacations, iPods, or iPads or video games, etc… How do you raise a child to be appreciative, motivated and unlazy?

photo credit:
photo credit:

I know that to grow, kids need to feel some sadness and deprivation. They need to hear “no,” sometimes, even when it’s easier to say “yes.” They have to get a little knocked down. We as their parents have to resist the urge to rescue them, and hover like helicopter parents. They have to be encouraged to risk and experience failure. It is through failure that they grow- I know from personal experience, failure is our greatest gift.

I would love to know how YOU are raising a grateful and grounded child.


  1. Interesting topic and I think the way to raise grateful children is to give them responsibility as young as possible. Have them make their beds even though you may make it better yourself or have them change the kitty litter and things like that. Parents have to resist doing everything for their kids and rescuing them because kids actually derive a sense of pride in doing work themselves.

    1. I am so with you on that! As a work-from-home mom, I need the support of my family as well and that includes picking up some of the slack. There’s no way I can take care of everything. I make that very clear by reinforcing the message that we should ALL take pride in our home and help keep in together and neat!

  2. Great post! Sometimes, you just have to say no and stick to it for a while. After that period of abstinence, they will appreciate what they have. My older son (13) save enough money to buy his IPOD and he told me that he appréciates it a lot more than if I had just bought it for him. That was a nice thing to say. There are no perfect answers and raising kids is challenging even if it comes with a lot of rewards (kisses, hugs, smiles………)

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