Thursday, June 3, 2010


My mouth is still open in shock from a conversation I had last week with the grandmother of a 10-year-old girl with serious entitlement issues.

While visiting relatives overseas, the 10-year-old had apparently fallen in love with their house. This is perfectly normal. What I found disturbing and abnormal was that the girl had then presented the relative with a piece of paper asking that he write on it that she was to get the house after he died! And apparently this is not the first relative she has hit on in this way.

Where on earth does a 10-year-old get the idea that this is normal and acceptable behaviour? I used to joke that based on the behaviour of its student body, the very expensive private school she attends (and Hannah will not, even if we win the lottery) must have classes on materialism and entitlement. But I suspect that one must look much closer to home.

Whatever our financial situation is in the future, Hannah is going to be brought up knowing that if she wants certain material things, she will have to work to pay for them herself. This doesn't mean that her father and I won't help her if we can - my entry into home ownership was made much easier thanks to relatives who helped me get together the deposit for my first (relatively modest) flat but I never expected or demanded such help. And by work for them I mean a regular job as a gardener, engineer, cafe manager or the like - not as a glorified prostitute who only dates/marries men of a certain income.

I know from my own experience that the freedom that comes from the knowledge that you have and can support yourself financially is worth more than a dozen expensive houses bequeathed to you by others. Every gift comes with its own price, emotional or otherwise. It is exhilarating to look around my house and know that aside from a few pieces of furniture and dishes (and the original assistance with my first deposit) both it and everything it contains is the result and my and my husband's hard work. I don't want to deprive Hannah of this experience.

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