The terms privilege and entitlement are often used interchangeably but there is a significant difference between the two. Mainly, what separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.
Privilege is having advantages that are often outside of your control that lead to unique opportunities and access to support to overcome challenges. These advantages are not always fully recognized unless your circumstances change or you get to know others who do not share in your privilege.
In contrast, those who are entitled often don’t recognize their advantages as such and believe that they are inherently deserving of their privilege or special treatment. Privilege is not intrinsically a bad thing, but when not managed well or taken to extremes, it can lead to dysfunction and entitlement.
For example, there are plenty of kids who grow up in privilege who are expected to have a job, save for the Nike limited edition shoe of the moment, and are expected to pay for their own entertainment such as outings with friends. If given an allowance, it may be generous but not over the top.
In comparison, there are lots of privileged children who never have to earn their own money, take getting luxury items such as high end shoes as a regular part of life, and oftentimes don’t have an allowance but instead have easy access to money and credit cards for seemingly unlimited Ubers, entertainment, impulse purchases, and quick fixes to many challenges or problems that may arise.
It is important to emphasize that more than two things can be true… You can be privileged and have a level of gratitude for it.
However, privilege, whether you are grateful for it or not, undeniably provides advantages such as immunity from consequences and the luxury of security.
There are obviously many positives to growing up privileged, but there can also be a price to pay. For example, children who are raised in privilege are more likely to be shielded from consequences of poor choices such as getting in trouble with the law or dealing with repercussions from trouble at school (private schools have customers and can be more willing to make exceptions). Because of abundant resources, parents can quickly and easily solve problems for their children or give their children significant advantages, such as hiring expert coaches to improve their sport or private tutors to improve their grades.
In more serious cases, a young adult from a privileged family who is caught as a “graffiti artist” may have to pay a fine and be charged with a misdemeanor offense. Their family is likely to pay for the fines and hire an attorney. A teenager from a more modest socioeconomic background may be charged with a similar offense, yet because of the family’s inability to hire good legal representation, may find themselves paying a hefty fine and end up with a young adult with a criminal record that could interfere with their ability to go to school or get a job. Even though the circumstances are nearly identical, the consequences are vastly different.
In theory, you would expect that the kids with access to the best resources and opportunities would excel in life, but in actuality, they often deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and confidence issues because they haven’t had to develop resilience, responsibility, accountability, or motivation.
True self confidence and resilience are built through failure. Recognizing that you failed and overcoming that failure builds a sense of confidence because you know you can handle challenges. If a child has not been allowed to fail, and many of their challenges in life have been overcome with quick fixes and parents led-solutions, they are less likely to be able to solve their own problems and be successful once they leave home, whether that is going off to college or striking out into the world.
Additionally, growing up with a privileged lifestyle sets the bar very high. If you are accustomed to instant gratification and grow up with all the bells and whistles of privilege (a nice home, fancy cars, luxury vacations, etc.), when you begin your own career, it can feel like a sense of loss.
If a young adult is unable or unwilling to hold down a job, advance their education after high school, or manage their money, the family will always be there to “back them up”. While it can be invaluable to provide a safety net for young adults, too much of one can lead to too much reliance that might actually undermine the motivation to “figure it out” on their own. For a child who grows up knowing there is not a soft place to land, they may be more motivated and feel a stronger sense of urgency because their family doesn’t have the resources to support them.
When a problem inevitably arises, young adults who grew up privileged often feel like they cannot deal with the issues by themselves. They have not built the confidence within themselves to know that they are capable of handling problems alone because they have always had a safety net to fall back on and haven’t truly dealt with any major issues by themselves.
This low self confidence and lack of self belief can lead to or exacerbate other issues such as anxiety, depression, self-soothing with drugs or alcohol, self-sabotage, indecisiveness, or lack of responsibility and accountability. These issues may present themselves as struggling to keep up with school work, being tardy or absent to classes or important appointments, and inability to develop or maintain healthy relationships.
Many young people are dealing with these issues and parents are scrambling to find meaningful ways to help them overcome their struggles and succeed. Although not always the case, many of the young adults I have worked with who are struggling with these issues have grown up with a privileged lifestyle where parent-led solutions, workarounds, and fixes were commonplace.
Luckily, it is never too late to build resilience, confidence, and problem solving skills because of the fact that they are skills and not personality traits that are unchanging.
In my nearly 20 years of experience, I have talked to countless parents whose young adult children are dealing with these exact issues, and after seeing the need for a program specifically designed for young adults ages 18-30 who are struggling, I created the Failure to Launch Program.
The program is intended for young adults who typically grew up in privileged families who are now struggling with anxiety, depression, time management issues, lack of resilience and confidence, building or maintaining relationships, and meeting family and social expectations for their age. Together, whether I work with your young adult one-on-one or with other family members, we will get to the root cause of your child’s struggles through targeted coaching and support. Not only will I help your young adult understand what they have to do to improve, but they will be provided with the specific tools, techniques, and solutions they need to overcome whichever issues they are dealing with.
This program is fully-customizable to your family’s unique circumstances so we can optimize outcomes and help your young adult experience rapid, sustainable, and life-changing results. We will uncover the subconscious thoughts and beliefs your child has carried with them since childhood so that we can address them directly, provide them with tools and support, and help them launch into adulthood to be the person they are meant to be.
The Failure to Launch program is all inclusive and offers:
Unlimited phone, text, and email support
Access to my exclusive network of industry professionals (i.e. if your child needs a psychological examination, I can get them in direct contact with one of my trusted connections who is an expert in the field)
Custom recordings to reinforce positive change
Family check-in sessions
We work on a month-to-month basis and spend the first few sessions digging deep into what issues are occurring in the family, many of which lie in the subconscious minds of the family members that they may not even be aware of.