Book of the Year

“It’s a really great book,” my friend Rich told me at breakfast. We were sitting in the Cascades restaurant at the Opryland Hotel at a recent marketing seminar, and Rich was describing a recent family-bonding event he had been on with his brother and nephews.

At the event, held on July 4th weekend in Park City with Yanik Silver’s Maverick Business Adventure group, Yanik had brought in parenting experts Richard and Linda Eyre to talk to the group about entitlement. That’s where Rich found out about their book.

I was a little skeptical that it would be of interest to me, but when a friend like Rich recommends a book, I go straight to Amazon and order it. “Plus,” Rich assured, “It’s a quick and easy read.” And he was right, I was able to get through it on a 3-hour plane ride from Toronto to Denver.

If you’re a parent – and even if you’re not and you are just simply interested in making sure that your nieces and nephews grow up to be responsible adults – then I highly recommend “The Entitlement Trap” by Richard and Linda Eyre.

It’s a wonderful book that not only contains great wisdom and easy-to-apply practical solutions, but it will also put a big smile on your face.

Admittedly, you might find some of the advice simplistic. “Make a child earn what they are given and have them take responsibility for their possessions.”

“We need to teach parents about this? Really?” might be your incredulous response.

But you and I grew up in different times.

In fact, I remember being an 8-year-old boy that wanted to play in a summer baseball league. The problem was that the baseball diamond was over three miles away, tucked back amongst country fields far from the old farmhouse where I grew up.

“If you want to play, you have to bike there,” my mother told me. You see, she was busy in her garden after work growing vegetables for the family, and my father was in the fields until sunset. That left it up to me to make the 30-minute bike ride (uphill both ways, on a single-gear banana seated bike) every Monday and Wednesday evening.

(Fortunately my parents acquiesced to my demands and gave me a ride to my 7 a.m. hockey games and practices in the winter…I suppose even they realized that riding a bike in skates is tough, even for a Canadian boy.)

Today, telling your child to bike three miles in the dark countryside without supervision (or a helmet, of course), would likely get you thrown in jail, or at the least, ostracized by all of the other mothers taking their children to baseball in their SUVs.

But to me, that was normal. It was expected. If my sister or I wanted something, we had to go out and get it ourselves.

To earn money each spring my mother would give me a plastic bag and send me trekking up and down the ditches alongside the country road in front of our farmhouse. There I would collect the beer bottles thrown from cars over the winter. Each would earn me a few pennies when taken back to the “Beer Store” that we have here in Ontario.

Plus, I’d often earn a “bonus” when I’d find a rotten mouse that had gotten trapped inside the stubby brown bottle. Those made for excellent projectiles to be tossed at my sister.

As you can imagine, there wasn’t much of an entitlement attitude developed on the Ballantyne farm.

But according to the Richard and Linda Eyre, a sense of entitlement causes many of the problems we see in today’s otherwise normal kids.

Of course, parents don’t set out to create entitled children. They know better. In fact, through their research, the Eyres found that the goals of parents around the world are universal.

Almost all parents just want to give their kids self-esteem, self-discipline, and self-confidence…and the solution to this (and the antidote to entitlement) is to give kids responsibility.

But, as the Eyres explain, it is only when children perceive ownership that they can begin to feel responsibility. Thus, ownership is the lever that can spring kids out of the entitlement trap and motivate them to work for and earn what they want, to take care of things, to fight through difficulty, to face up to their own problems, and to decide for themselves what they want from life.

“If the perception of ownership can be given to children, a sense of responsibility will follow, and a sense of pride, and a sense of purpose.”

The Entitlement Trap is not just about the negatives of giving your children too much. You’ll also discover how to create life-long family bonds around rituals and behaviors that will help your children grow up into not only productive members of society, but downright wonderful people with the self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-esteem that you’ve always wanted them to achieve.

Plus, the book is worth it just for the “Gunny Bag” idea alone. If your kids don’t pick up after their toys, it’s Gunny to the rescue. I’ll let you find out that tip when you read the book.

The anecdotes from families on entitlement issues as well as the benefits of a “Family Economy” are priceless. Get this book and enjoy it over the holidays and start to implement some of the ideas at this special time when family ties are tightest.

“The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.” – Mario Puzo


[Ed. Note. Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise and author of Financial Independence Monthly and Turbulence Training. He is also the co-creator of the Early to Rise $100,000 Transformation Contest that will launch in early 2013. This 90-day contest is FREE for you to enter, and you’ll have a chance to win up to $25,000 in prizes in four categories: Healthy, Wealthy, Wise, and Overall. To get an idea of the changes you can make in a 90-Day Transformation Contest, please read Craig’s article about Curing Your Bad Habits here.]
  • Great article today, Craig.
    What you outlined in the book is the exact reason why my wife and I homeschool our 5 kids. We definitely live in different times from when you and I were children. I find that cases of “alpha-kids” – where the kids run the show and the parents do whatever they want – is reaching epidemic levels in North America.
    Your story of riding your bike to baseball games reminds me of the same commitment I made riding the bus to my club basketball practices in the inner-city of Toronto on dark winter nights. Being a first-generation Canadian, my mom and dad worked many hours (with my dad even starting his own business on the side AFTER he worked the assembly line at Xerox) to help support my brother and me and so it was up to us to take ownership of our activities. I was so passionate about sports and competing that nothing was going to stop me from going to practices so that I could play in games.
    These days we’ll have friends over who have their own kids and are shocked to see my kids take it upon themselves to empty the dishwasher or fold their own laundry.
    I haven’t read the Entitlement Trap yet (some of the excerpts from the book sound almost logical to me), but I’m heading over to Indigo today to pick it up.
    Thanks again,
    Chris Lopez

  • Rob

    Another great article Craig, and thanks for the recommendation. I’m ordering several books to hand out to my friends (they definitely need to read it).

  • Rebecca

    Morning Craig!

    I’m on it, amazon is my next site. Completely agree entitlement is a huge issue. I see it even in employees and find myself thinking “what happened to old school work ethic”. This sense of entitlement is in part the root cause. So, of course, I’m doing my best to make sure my son doesn’t develop it.

    Another great book along the same lines, Raising A Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis. Bedros recommended it, well worth it (also a quick read) It’s written for fathers with sons. The premis is we raise boys and expect them to magically know how to be a man. Knights had a very methodical training process with specific events that marked their passage to knighthood. Being intentionally about raising our sons will help them know what being a man should look like and how to live that out. (to other single mom ETR readers, yes ideally it’s the dad reading the book, but read it, maybe bring in grandpa, uncles….and if still just you, I’m sure you are doing great, read it and do the best you can)

    Craig, before I hit Amazon… Top three books you read this year? Please and thank you 🙂

    • Craig Ballantyne

      1) Family Fortunes – Will and Bill Bonner
      2) All Hell Let Loose – Sir Max Hastings
      3) All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Remarque

      • Rebecca

        Thank you!