On Parenting, Practical Life, Social and Emotional Learning

Entitlement: Been There, Done That

Few things trigger me more than interacting with a child who has an entitled attitude.  rich-kidWhy?  Because I was one of them.  I grew up in a traditional Mexican upper-middle-class family, with a stay-at-home mom and two maids who did all the housework so we didn’t have to.  I never did my laundry, tidied my room, or set a table.  Those things just happened!

When I was 18, my mom went back to school and decided that I needed to learn how to run a home.  One night, my dad was coming home a bit later than usual, my mom had class, and the maids were gone, so I was tasked with re-heating my dad’s dinner.  With the burner on high, I stirred the tomato sauce and thought, How will I know when it’s ready?  It eventually burned and my dad had to eat charred tomato sauce on his pasta.  I remember the feelings of shame and incompetence that washed over me as I watched him pick through the blackened bits on his plate.

The irony is that I ended up in hotel management school in Switzerland, which is like Practical Life boot camp for rich kids.  Within weeks I went from not knowing how to boil water to cooking coq au vin; from not knowing how to make my bed to mastering hospital corners; from not knowing how to set a table to prepping a banquet room for 350 people.  My teachers were kind, but they also had high expectations and only a few short months to prepare us for demanding industry internships.

After 12-hour shifts scrubbing pots and pans, I would drag myself to my dorm, body aching but self-confidence bolstered by what I had accomplished.  During my three six-month internships, I sometimes cried in the bathroom after getting chewed out by the head chef, but then I’d wash my face, put on my apron, and continue plucking thousands of chicken feathers or slicing tray after tray of tomatoes.

The resilience, growth mindset and grit that define my adult personality were not developed in my posh private high school or in my comfortable childhood home.  They came from three bone-crushing and character-building years of meaningful work, high expectations, and caring guidance.

Meaningful work.  High expectations.  Caring guidance.  These are the three cornerstones for the development of true self-worth.  They’re also inherent in the work children do in Montessori environments (both in school and at home).  When we do things for our children that they can do for themselves, we rob them of the experiences that will help them forge strength of character, develop autonomy, and lead fearless lives.

PS: About a decade ago, my father lost his business in one of Mexico’s financial crises, and my mom had to go into the workforce to support them.  She works long hours and doesn’t have time to cook, so my father was forced to prepare the meals.  He’s now a passionate home chef who pours over elaborate recipes and has found self-worth through cooking amazing meals.  It’s never too late to transform your life through meaningful work.

4 thoughts on “Entitlement: Been There, Done That”

  1. Welcome back, Pilar! I missed reading your pieces. Thanks for the perspective. I feel like I gained so much insight into you and your life. I appreciate the message. And your vulnerability. Xoxo Sarah Fondriest

  2. Admirable transformations.
    I was the youngest by four and a half years from the next three of my sisters. We were farmed out, a couple quite literally to a farm, where we lived until I was old enough to attend full day first grade. My dad left the home and mother from then on work grueling hours of factory and waitressing work. During much of the years of growing, being the baby of the family I was not asked to help much whereas my older sisters did everything. They, my aunts ( mom was the youngest of 9), older cousins too, were mostly homebodies, who took care of tasks around the house and yard even. So, I guess you might have called me ‘spoiled’ like my sisters did but while having 11 children I learned quick! These women were fine examples of how to cook and take care of a house and included crafts and sewing as well. One of my aunts always gave me hair cuts and perms and then I became a hairdresser and gifted back to everyone. When I saw gardening, canning, and enjoying simple meals, I learned by observation and example how to do so may of these things myself. So whether we’re forced to or have come out of being taken care of primarily by others, it is good to know we can pull up our bootstraps and put on an apron and get to work, including a sewing business. Montessori became a way of life for my family when I came across its marvelous philosophy and practices early on in motherhood. I took semesters of Montessori and child development courses one semester at a time while being a mom. A Montessori environment or School has been in my home for them, others’ children and grandchildren to this day, having just turned 74. It’s a wonderful feeling to have achieved various goals … decades will pass so why not learn along the way?

I'd love to know what YOU think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s