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Mom's Time Out

Spoiled

Mary Angel

(Feb, 2012) "Spoiled" according to Dictionary.com means- to impair, damage, or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment, excessive indulgence, etc.: to spoil a child by pampering him. Well, here goes, my kids are spoiled. I used to take offense when people would imply that I was spoiling my kids. I used to get frustrated when someone would tell me what I was doing wrong in my child rearing. Now I have come to realize (and only through experience, age and humility) that most, if not all, of the kids I know are spoiled. But, so are we as adults. The question is how you handle that fact.

Of the kids I see in todayís society the majority are spoiled in one way or another. Most of my kidís friends got e-readers, i-pod touches or flat screen televisions for Christmas. Some of which I discovered were outlandishly expensive. Now, in hindsight, I realize that we all make choices. Some parents give one big gift, some give many small gifts, and still others give something little (sometimes because that is all they can afford). These are the choices we make, how we will raise our children, how we will spend our money. The problem comes not always from what we buy our kids but from how we raise them with regards to these things. Do your kids understand that life is not about entitlement? Do they understand that these wonderful pleasures that are bestowed upon them are true blessings? Or have we raised them to believe that they are entitled to the newest "this" and the latest "that" that comes on the market? This is where we really spoil our children. We donít teach them right from wrong, we donít teach them to appreciate what they have and take care of what they have. We donít teach them to realize how blessed they are with the little things. You see spoiling a child doesnít always mean that they are bought every whim that catches their eyes. It can involve how we handle school, or conflict, or everyday situations.

There are the parents who donít spoil their kids with material things but, instead, raise them to believe they can do no wrong. Whenever they do anything wrong their parents lead them to believe they are not at fault. Hard to believe, I know, as parents we never want our children to hurt or feel bad, but without experiencing these emotions children wonít develop sympathy or empathy. A child who is spoiled and led to believe they can do no wrong could one day find out that it is not true in an emotionally crushing reality. It could be something as simple as dating problems to the sadness of divorce, or it could go in the direction of shop lifting or worse. Everything we teach our kids and donít teach our kids affects who they will be as adults. There are children who with the shedding of some tears have figured out that mommy or daddy will change the outcome of whatever circumstance they are in. I am not just talking about the manipulative child here, in some cases this could be like Pavlovís dogs. The child has gotten their way so many times from crying that they automatically cry when they are in trouble or not getting their way. I would recommend an episode of the Andy Griffith show (yes it is in black and white) called Opie and the Spoiled Kid! Actually, I would recommend any number of episodes of the Andy Griffith show for any number of parenting problems.

I am the mom who has spoiled my kids by making their home life too easy. I havenít been strict enough with chores and homework. It is always a case of "there isnít enough time in the day" or "I am too tired by the time dinner is over" or "they are only young once and I want them to enjoy themselves" or very often "WHAT, its bedtime alreadyÖwhere did the day go"! All great excuses, but all have led to my kids being spoiled. Now they try and get out of doing chores by lingering or "forgetting" (which I know in some cases is true), or my favorite "playing dumb". Sometimes itís not them at all, itís me knowing it will take me twice as long to show them and get them to do the chore correctly as it would for me to do it myself! And, sometimes, in the evenings I just want to get done and SIT! So now I have to fight with them to do their chores and study. Please, do not misunderstand, I know they are children and that arguing is a part of life. However, I have spoiled my kids into whom they are today and that means they donít understand where their responsibilities are in these areas. So my arguments take on a whole new dimension. As a friend once told me (and I am paraphrasing) "they are what you made them", she was referring to something else but it still applies. Now I am faced with fixing the problem. And, let me tell you, it is much easier to spoil a child than to un-spoil a child, if that is even a word.

This is where I tell you not to make the same mistakes I have made and not to spoil your children, or maybe not. We are all going to spoil our children, whether it is with material things or how we raise them or both. The key is how much and how we handle it. We should, as parents, obviously try not to spoil them but in the next breathe when we do spoil the kids we should make sure to educate them on what is going on. Try to get them to understand our motivation and appreciate what it is we are doing, for the love that is behind it and not for the act or gift itself. And ultimately, as much as it may hurt us and them, we need to make the hard decisions. Tell them no once in a while when they ask for things, stick to the grounding even when it turns out to interfere with a dance or function you donít want them to miss, homework comes before everything after school, and they must do their chores because they learn responsibility (and that is irreplaceable). Teach them to think of others, to appreciate even the smallest of blessings, and above all teach them that you love them no matter what! And remember you too were a spoiled child (and adult) and look how you turned out!

Read other articles by Mary Angel