What follows is a rather choppy account of my personal philosophy. It informs how I parent and how I do other stuff, too.
Kids need unconditional love. They need to be cherished. If children are cherished and respected at home when they are small, they won't exploit others trying to create a world that will fulfill their unmet childhood needs when they are grown.
It's okay to teach kids that they are special as long as you also let them know that everyone is special. We each possess unique qualities that make us indispensable to the greater world. You have gifts, talents, and strengths. Everyone does. You are special. Everyone is. No one has to be perfect to be deserving. This is good because perfect is impossible. No one is more special. The specialness of others doesn't diminish what is special about you. It's all good.
We can admire our own abilities without becoming arrogant snots because we acknowledge that others have admirable traits too. We feel comfortable in the world admitting our shortcomings because our lack is not a disability but an opportunity to make connections with others who can help us fulfill our potential just as our strengths can help others compensate for their difficulties and fulfill their potential. It's a beautiful thing.
Entitlement isn't a bad word. We're all entitled to an education, health care, food, a home, respect and love. The problem lies not in entitlement but in exclusion. I'm entitled but you are excluded. I deserve. You do not.
Another problem arises when we attempt to attribute greater or less value to certain abilities. My abilities are more valuable than yours, that makes me more valuable than you, therefore I deserve more than you.
It's this kind of thinking that leads to bullying and cruelty and inequality.
We worry that there won't be enough to go around.We worry about the scarcity of both tangible resources like food and shelter, and intangible resources like love and respect. We worry if we don't grab as much for ourselves as we can that we will suffer.
We forget that if we allow everyone to come to the table, nobody comes empty handed. When we share our talents and skills, there is an abundance, there is enough to go around. Everyone can have enough.
It's okay to acknowledge your abilities. It's okay to recognize the talents and abilities of others. Everyone is valuable and deserving. We are all equally entitled. There is enough for everyone.
Tomorrow I'll try to write something funny.