It’s one thing to work on helping your kids fight an attitude of entitlement like we talked about  in an earlier post, but let’s face it, to some extent, they learned the behavior from us.

If that’s true, what can you do to fight entitlement in your own life? The more you live out the values you want to see in your kids, the better chance your kids have of living that out too.

It’s so critical we combat entitlement in ourselves and our kids because entitlement kills our ability to experience two critical things in life: gratitude and joy. None of us would sign up our kids to live their lives without gratitude or joy, yet it’s surprising how many adults live without either. Entitlement does that.

First, entitled people are never grateful people. If you believe you have something coming to you, it’s hard to receive it as a gift, a bonus, an unexpected benefit or even a surprise. In your mind, someone owes it to you. It had better be good. In fact, you might believe more should have done for you. How can you ever be grateful as a result?

Second, entitled people experience very little joy. Because gratitude is absent, so is delight. It’s so very hard to find pleasure in what you have because you had it coming to you, it’s yours, and you live in a quiet fear of losing it. Entitled people fight so hard to get what they want that they can’t imagine life without it. That fear alone robs them of any joy.

So, what do you do? Here are three things that have helped me fight entitlement when I feel it creeping in:

1. Decide that no one owes you anything.

No one owes you a job. No one owes you love or respect. No one owes you kindness. In fact, God doesn’t owe you anything (that’s actually quite sound biblically, you know). Instead, start to see everything that comes to you as a gift. You will cherish and value your job, your family, your possessions and even your relationship with God much more deeply. I promise.

2. Be generous.

Entitled people don’t share well. In fact, they hoard. They hoard credit (but aren’t afraid to assign blame), they hang onto possessions, are stingy givers and have a “fixed pie” mindset. Giving money away and sharing the things you have can help break the back of greed and the idea that you deserve everything that’s come your way.

3. Hold what you have loosely.

I regularly remind myself that all the work I do, the relationships I have, and the possessions I have are a privilege and a trust given to me by God and other people around me. I am fortunate to be able to do what I do and have what I have. And if they are taken away, that is fine, because I will have what matters most: a deep relationship with God and the people closest to me. Holding things loosely reminds me that they are on loan, and not entirely deserved.

These three things help me combat entitlement in my own heart as a parent.

I hope that as my kids see me battle entitlement in my life, it helps them battle it in theirs. How about you?