Girl Gone Authentic: Please be Respectful, and not just because I am Buying You Something

I know that as a parent, I’m responsible for ensuring my children’s well-being. I need to make sure I provide food, clothing, and shelter. When I was a kid, I knew that part of upholding my end of the bargain was to be respectful towards my parents, not only when they were buying me things, but just because it was the right thing to do. I learned VERY QUICKLY that parents are more likely to spend money/time on you when you aren’t a dick to them. I rarely asked my parents to buy me anything unless I truly needed something; otherwise, I waited until they offered.

It’s not that I was a perfect child – far from it. However, the first time I openly sassed my mom was in high school. When I was younger, it didn’t occur to me to talk back to my parents. I wasn’t scared of them; I just didn’t think to be rude, ignore what they told me to do, etc. I would have never dreamed of being an asshole to them when they controlled my life. I learned to get along and cause my parents a minimum of grief.

For the most part, my three adult children have been the same way with me. They seemed to have learned the adage, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Not that they were NEVER rude, but it wasn’t all that common for my kids to backtalk me, especially before they entered high school. If they did act up, all I had to do was to give them THE LOOK and they knocked it right off. They were not scared of me, but they knew that I was a much more lenient parent when they weren’t jerks. They were respectful, even when there was no expectation that I was going to buy them something. They didn’t constantly hound me to spend money on them or get mad when I didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to spend money on non-essential items.

Somehow, my 12-year-old seems to have missed the memo on this. Even from a young age, she would be nice and polite when she knew I was going to spend time/money on her, but the niceness would quickly fade away when I was done buying her something and/or spending time doing something fun with her. Anytime we went to a store, she would ask me to buy her things, even if I’d already told her in advance that I wasn’t buying her anything.

It’s not that she is ONLY nice when I’m going to buy her something, but the trend I notice with her is that when she knows I’m going to spend time/money on her, she’s awesome. She tells me she loves me, doesn’t have to be reminded to do something as many times as usual, etc. However, within an hour or two of me spending time/money on her, she gets this “What have you done for me lately” attitude.

Or, if she’s a jerk and I’d been thinking about doing something fun, I don't end up taking her. Once, I told her that I had been thinking about doing something fun but since she was so rude, I changed my mind. She said, “You should have told me and then I would have been nice to you.” I had to tell her that it doesn’t work that way. I refuse to “pay” kids to be respectful. I’m not the mom that says, “If you behave, I’ll buy you a treat.” I’m more the type to make a random decision to give my kids a treat if I notice that they’ve been particularly respectful.

I thought that as she was around me longer, and grew older, that she’d drop the sense of entitlement and greed, but I was wrong. Let’s take the last two weeks for example because I don't want to keep bringing up things from years past. She has been begging me and David for months to let her get her hair dyed. I told her I’d make an appointment for last week on Monday to get it done. I didn’t know that the salon would be closed on Monday (we take her to a beauty college because it’s cheaper than a professional salon and you get the same results), so instead I took her to a thrift store (which we both enjoy doing). I bought her almost $40 worth of shirts and shoes.

Later that night, we went to a department store, where I spent another $70 on a pair of pants, shoes, and a sports jersey. We were barely home and she was already asking when I’d be taking her to do MORE school shopping (she doesn’t start school until August 29th, so it’s not like we don’t have time). I told her that I just got done spending over $100, and that I would buy her another pair or two of jeans the weekend before school started.

The next day, I let her pick out her backpack on eBay (new) and paid for it. It was over $20, so in less than 24 hours, I spent about $130 on school things.

A couple of days after the backpack, I took her to get her hair dyed. She was super nice the couple of days beforehand because she knew about the hair appointment. It ended up costing me $60 to get her hair done, which was more than I expected because they needed to use additional dye since she wanted a very dark color. We didn’t even make it home from the salon before she once again asked when I’d be taking her to buy more school stuff. Once again, I reminded her that I’d be taking her the weekend before school started.

If you’re keeping a tally, I spent $190 on her in approximately 72 hours, and she was still not satisfied. Further, my answer must have not been acceptable to her, because she’s been somewhat snotty ever since. She got upset last night when I told her that I want her to rinse her dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher rather than leave them in the sink for me to handle.

This morning, she came out of her room and the first thing out of her mouth was not “good morning” but “when are you taking me to buy more jeans for school?” This is at least the third time she’s asked me within a week’s time, so I got irritated. I told her that I’d already told her three times that I’d be taking her this weekend and that she was making me not even want to take her because she kept hounding me about it. She said, “Geez, you don’t need to be so rude about it.” She’s lucky I’m not a violent person!

I went to run a couple of errands this afternoon, and when I got home, she had deposited a bunch of dishes in the sink, unrinsed and certainly not put in the dishwasher. I guarantee you that if I was taking her to buy jeans tonight, those dishes would have been in the dishwasher.

When I asked her to take care of her dishes, she said that she didn’t understand why I was “so mad” at her. So, I have to be mad at her if I’m asking her to clean up after herself? I told her that expecting her to put her own dishes in the dishwasher is not a punishment.

For those of you with kids, how do you handle the sense of entitlement? My three adult children didn’t have the sense of entitlement that my 12-year-old does, and I don’t know what to do about it. I just know that something’s gotta give. I’m going to get to the point where I don’t want to spend a dime on her, nor will I want to do anything fun with her. I don’t want to get there.