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Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful. But then you do something for your kids and they don't show the appropriate amount of gratitude in the appropriate way and you declare that they are entitled.

Maybe you have it all wrong. Here is why:

To most of us, being entitled means we don't adequately appreciate what we have received or we want things we haven't earned. But when we use the term entitled, I suspect we are using it regarding others, not ourselves.

Ironically, when we do things for our children that we feel they take for granted, we are the ones acting entitled. When we offer financial help, we feel they should show appreciation for our efforts. But we are asking for something that we have not effectively earned. We are entering into a unilateral contract with our kids under the auspices of helping. And we are frustrated if they don't hold up to terms upon which they never agreed.

When you give a wedding present to someone and don't receive a thank-you note, the recipient is being rude because of social protocol. But what applies within the family? Are you modeling entitlement or gratitude?

First, decide whether you are doing something for your children or for yourself. No child has a complete understanding of your life. Your values are observed through your behavior, not your expressions. They will see how you spend your money and, like all kids, will either want what you have or want nothing to do with it. They will also have their own story about how their upbringing impacted them.

We all have a messed-up relationship with money. We spend too much, save too much, are at times either frightened or overconfident of money. Accepting this is the first step in our approach to entitlement.

Apply this to the decisions you make with your kids. I see parents who want their kids to have life easier than they had it but resent the kids for not handling things the way they would. That's messed up.

I see others who created amazing experiences and lifestyles with their children and are annoyed when their young adults want to maintain those same privileges. That's messed up.

Talk to your kids about what you are doing or not doing for them, explain what your motives are, and re-evaluate your choices based on how things play out. You are not entitled to a certain response, so don't hold out for it. Be grateful for what you can do.

Spend your life wisely.

Ross Levin is founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina. He can be reached at