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The Potato Chip Incident

Regularly teens will display an attitude of self-conceit, self-absorption, or arrogance
By Barbara Rainey

It's a rare adolescent who does not struggle with attitude. Regularly teens will display an attitude of self-conceit, self-absorption, or arrogance: "I can do it myself!" "Leave me alone!" "What do you know anyway?"

Sometimes a child's self-oriented actions are ridiculous. I was in the kitchen one morning, helping one of our girls finish making her lunch. A teenage mutiny erupted because we had no potato chips.

I told her I was sorry that we were out and suggested some other options, to no avail. She whined, "There's nothing in this house to eat. Nothing for my lunch!"

In fact, there was enough food in the house to feed a platoon of Marines. I tried to point this out. "We've got yogurt, fruit..." But we didn't have the one thing she wanted.

She got so bent out of shape over the potato chips deficit that I had to warn her, "You need to gain control of your attitude; this isn't that big of a deal. I'll have potato chips for tomorrow, but not today."

Our daughter's hysteria escalated even more. "You'll need to come to school and take me out and buy my lunch!" she said.

I tried to help her gain perspective and relax, but she refused to listen. She was so out of bounds that, to sting her selfishness, I grounded her from the phone for a week. Her disrespect and demanding attitude were inappropriate.

The punishment cooled her whining but did not completely extinguish it. Finally, I said, "You know, honey, I am going to go buy potato chips, but you're not going to take any in your lunch for a week, because you were so demanding."

Our daughter frowned and finally quieted down. What a way to begin a day!

This is the kind of petty and selfish attitude you will sometimes encounter and need to correct. Rewarding such behavior is out of the question. Resist the temptation to give in to some irrational demand just to calm the waters and ease a migraine headache. Take the aspirin. Don't capitulate!

Copyright 2000 by FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family. 

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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