Raising Un-entitled Kids- Part I

“Pity is one of the noblest emotions available to human beings; self-pity is possibly the most ignoble…It is an incapacity, a crippling emotional disease that severely distorts our perception of reality …a narcotic that leaves its addicts wasted and derelict.”  Eugene H. Peterson in Earth and Altar

Young people are generally full of themselves, but a new study suggests that today’s kids are far more self-centered than preceding generations.  The results of a recent analysis of current and recent college students show a steady increase in narcissism since 1982.  Today’s college crowd can be characterized by a high expectation of others, and a low ambition for themselves.  They resent those who expect them to achieve through study and effort, and have little appreciation for the opportunity for an education.  They demand entertainment and excitement yet are unaware of the sacrifices made by their parents.

Why the increase in narcissism?  And what can parents do to reverse this trend?  To begin with we must learn to identify self-pity.

Self pity creeps into one’s thinking easily and subtly.  If allowed to linger, this unhealthy emotion takes up residence. Feeling sorry for oneself is both addictive and self perpetuating – and it feels good to our sin nature.  Any day can be turned into an opportunity for self pity.

Self pity is an emotional “disease” with crippling effects.  How do we keep our kids off the slippery sloself pity 1pe of self pity and inoculate our children against it?

First, we need to teach kids the difference between self pity and genuine sadness.   We all feel sad at times. Sadness is a healthy response but self pity is not.  Self pity is taking your grief and distorting it so that others owe you something for it.

Today, I share with you my attempt at poetry to illustrate the life of a victim. (I apologize in advance to English majors!) We all know individuals who have chosen a victim life style.  In my extended family, one adult family member continues to walk away from relationship after relationship in order to keep this sad cycle alive.  I was very close to this person once.  I knew her cycle well. I weep for her today and wonder how different it would be if self-pity had not invaded her heart.

-A Pity Addict

I like crisis.

Crisis grants me permission to feel sorry for MYSELF.

And entices you to focus on ME.

So I look for crisis; it’s not hard to find.

I twist your words and misinterpret your intentions to create an issue if I need to.

I play these misinterpretations around and around in my head until I believe them.

I repeat them to anyone who will listen.

I will do anything to feed my need for pity.

I seek your advice to solve my problems but rarely does it work.

Something has to go wrong in order to keep MY cycle of self pity alive.

Where would I be without a crisis?

And how would it feel if I did not have you to blame?

I don’t want to solve my own problems or face the issues in my heart.

I prefer to live in MY indulgent world.

So I create the next crisis.

MY daily life is often a mess.

And I prefer to keep it that way.

And I look for the next time you will let me down.

I keep you walking on “egg shells”.

Eventually a shell breaks and the cycle begins again.

I am good at keeping this cycle going.

I prefer it over a healthy relationship with you.

I entice you because you care.

I know you are apt to join ME in solving MY problems,

where I can work your emotions.

And keep the focus on ME – ME – ME.

I want your pity.  It mixes well with my own.

It serves as a drug, numbing my pain and shielding me from reality.

I am a crisis creator because it serves ME.

I deserve your pity,

Because I am entitled to it.

(Part 2- next week’s blog will be filled with tips and suggestions)

SCRIPTURE: 2 Timothy 3:1-6

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.


Self-pity is taking the wrong standpoint, and if self-pity is indulged in, before long we will take part in the decaying thing instead of that which grows more and more into the glory of God’s presence. – Oswald Chambers

No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest upon the throne. – Oswald Chambers


  1. That is so right on! “I look for crisis!” The distinction between sadness and self-pity might seem like little, but is HUGELY evident in their fruit.

    God guard me and my children from this! (and rescue me from where I’m already giving in!)

    Thank you Ellen!


  2. What a great article…I look forward the ones to come!!! You are awesome….and what’s within you is amazing! Thanx for sharing and impacting both us and our children!!!

    • Dear Andrea,

      Would love to see you and your children sometime. How about a coffee date sometime real soon!

  3. I like that you use the word “indulge” to describe when we give into self-pity. It’s so true! It’s so easy to let myself “indulge” in this sin and it does feel good to the sin nature…yet the fruit of it is so ugly. It puts the fear of God in me to realize how easily I can allow myself to enter into this cycle. And the worst part is the freedom that I give up and replace with being a victim instead when I do. Your poem couldn’t have described it better.

  4. Thanks for reminding us of this dangerous path. I’m looking forward to part II.

  5. I love your insight, Ellen. Thank you for the reminder.

  6. Wow…Ok, so Brandon Nava told me to check out your blog. We were never able to make the parenting classes, but I can’t wait to go back in your blog and read everything I’ve missed. One thing I have started is a journal for both London and JayJay with the things that I want them to know. Things that I may forget to tell them or not express properly…this is going in there!

    • Dear Brittany,

      I love your journal idea – to have the parenting ideas all in one place so that you can go back and review. Love it! You can also record the victories and answered prayers regarding JayJay and London in there!

      Come visit us at CCCSM again!

  7. Oh my gosh!!!!! Thank you soooo much for this blog Ellen. I had both girls read it. The poem was truth!!!!! The Morris girls have fallen into the trap of self pity. We as a family have gotten so used to crisis( Scott was just in er for falling) I found myself seeking pity from others. Yuck!!! I need to go to the Lord instead. I am convicted to model appropriate sadness, and no self pity. Thank you for your insight. We have copied your poem and scriptures to keep before us ( on fridge and the girls doors). There is a lightness in my home today. Thank you again for speaking the hard things.


    • Dear Julie,

      I am sorry that Scott hurt himself and pray that he is doing better. Your humble heart and desire to seek hard after god is an inspiration to many. Thanks for your sincere and open response. Love your family!

  8. I think this issue of entitlement is at the heart of most of the challenges we face in our home. We try to strike a balance on activities, etc. but the focus always remains on the events or activities or privileges that they did not get to participate in.

    • Dear Terri

      I agree and wonder if this issue is not the greatest challenge in most homes today due the nature of our era. I may “camp” on this theme for awhile.



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