Mom Wonders How To 'Break The Cycle Of Entitlement' While Raising Her Teenage Boy

She wants actionable steps to create change.

mom and teen son Perfect Wave / Shutterstock

Parenting comes with questions that can’t always be answered. Anyone who’s spent time with a toddler knows that the question “Why” is often answered with “Because that’s how it is.”

There are, of course, heavier and more loaded questions than why the sky is blue, especially surrounding issues of injustice and oppression, in whatever form they take. 

As kids become teens, they’re faced with the reality that life isn’t fair or equal for everyone. Yet they have a distinct choice as to what side they want to take: Will they reproduce harmful patterns, or will they reshape the world?


A mom wondered how to ‘break the cycle of entitlement’ while raising a teenage boy.

She wrote to the English parenting forum, Mumsnet, to ask other parents, “What are we all doing to plant the seeds of change?”

She shared how she wants to raise her son in a philosophical sense, noting that she wants him to “eventually understand the patriarchal system that has propped many men up and suppressed women and so understand and appreciate equity versus equality in relationships.”

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“Cycles are repeating no matter how kind we think we raise our little boys to be,” she said. “Women are still bearing the brunt, and the things that too many women are experiencing are shocking, and it's happening to women in their 20s and 30s; so very young still. I don't want to propagate or be complicit.”

The mom wants her son to “Be fully functional, so [he] won't weaponize any incompetence in his relationships.”

She hopes to foster his emotional intelligence so that he’s available, communicative, and able to regulate his emotions. She also wants him to “Align his words with actions” and “Advocate and stand up when a friend or peer says or does something misogynistic.”

Despite having a strong sense of the kind of man she wants her son to become, she wasn’t sure how to help him get there.

She asked other parents of teen boys for their tactics and techniques, wondering, “In terms of small steps or microforms or doses, what are we all doing to plant the seeds of change?”


The first response declared, “I'm expecting his dad, granddads, and uncles to set an example of all those positive things.”

While teen boys absolutely need to see the men in their lives modeling ways to subvert the patriarchy, the responsibility doesn’t just fall to them. Moms have a major hand in how their children see the world, as do teachers, coaches, and friends.

mom and teen son hugging digitalskillet / Shutterstock


The mom reacted to the comment, noting that many men “lack the tools” to teach their sons how to break such deeply ingrained patterns of behavior.

“As good as one's uncles could be, many may have grown up in toxic homes, or witnessed unhealthy dynamics which repeated. That's why cycles are repeating,” she said.

Another mom shared that she and her husband split the household labor and mental load, saying, “My teenage boys see their father and me pitching in together with housework, admin, and earning, playing to our strengths.”

“We talk about respectful language and attitudes. We debate,” she continued.

It’s important for parents to foster skills like emotional intelligence from an early age so that by the time boys are teens, they have some tools to reach for.


The mom of a two-year-old who I spoke with said, “This is something I think about all the time.”

“Since we are obviously very early, I’ve focused mostly on emotional intelligence, building an age-appropriate understanding of consent, and making sure he has lots of lifestyles represented in media and our actual lives,” she said.

“We name a lot of emotions, ask why he’s feeling a certain way, and give options on how to process feeling mad or sad that aren’t harmful, like hitting, biting, or throwing.”

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All children are born with a sense of entitlement. It's not necessarily inherent in boys.

Joanna Schroeder, author of the book "Talk To Your Boys" (Workman, 2025), gave her perspective on countering entitlement in teenage boys.  She started by challenging the idea that boys are inherently more entitled than girls.


All children are born with a powerful sense of entitlement, regardless of gender,” Schroeder explained. “It's theorized this is because of their survival systems. They think about themselves almost entirely and will do whatever they need to do to get their needs met. As they grow older, they develop a sense of empathy (helped along by the guidance of loving caregivers) and an expanded worldview.”

@byjoannaschroeder our teenage sons need to know that we see their goodness and that we appreciate what makes them wonderful remind them every chance you get#raisingboys ♬ original sound - Joanna Schroeder

“My first question is whether we're certain boys actually have a more problematic sense of entitlement, or if it manifests differently in boys than in any other gender,” she said, noting that “The question is really about why boys are seemingly not developing as nuanced a worldview and sense of empathy that helps them see the value of others' feelings and needs.”

Schroeder believes that “On a family level, people are bringing outdated ideas of what is good for boys and men into their child-rearing, such as the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality, which assumes all boys are rough, loud, and brash and doesn't correct, redirect, or teach empathy for others when boys act rough, loud, or brash.”


“Other people believe that talking to boys about feelings — Their own or others — Is emasculating,” she said. “They fear that teaching boys to talk about feelings and imagine the feelings of others will make them weak or turn them into targets of bullies.”

"At its core, entitlement is the belief that your feelings and needs are more important than the feelings and needs of others. If we cannot raise our children with a deep understanding of emotions and a rich palette of words to describe and understand feelings, we will likely raise kids who feel entitled and prioritize their needs even when that means others are harmed,” Schroeder concluded.

mom hugging son / Shutterstock


“Raising boys to resist patriarchal trends is actually pretty easy, as long as you have the support of your family,” she said. “You likely already know how to do it because this is how we've raised girls for generations. You teach them that everyone's feelings matter equally, that nobody has a right to touch anyone else's body without permission, and that includes their own bodies being sacred and protected, and that we can't always get what we want.”

“We raise them to see the bigger picture (who is involved in any situation, how might they feel, and how might any given outcome affect them as well as myself?), and we practice empathy and emotional intelligence on a day-to-day basis when opportunities arise.”

“There are plenty of opportunities to break down double standards and unfair treatment if we pay attention to them,” Schroeder concluded. “If we do it with the intent to call our kids into the conversation, as opposed to pushing them away, into shame, they are likely to grow up believing in equality and willing to advocate for it.”

To break apart the patriarchy in our everyday experience, we first have to act as witnesses, then continue to have open and direct conversations with kids of all genders.


The mom is asking the right questions to guide her son to become an authentic and empathic adult, which is the first step to challenging any system we want to change. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.