To spoil or not to spoil – part 1

I admit it. I am the mother of three incredibly spoilt children.

My older boys were given some money at Christmas. I sneakily hid it so I could put in it their back accounts as they really didn’t need to go blowing it on more ‘stuff’. Unfortunately, they were onto me and demanded to go and spend it as it was “their money.” I relented and embarked on the shopping trip from hell. “What? I’ve only got $50? I might as well not even bother buying anything!”….”Pop NEVER gives me enough money to buy what I want”….”What? I can only get two things..that’s not fair.” The lack of appreciation and gratitude was like a slap in the face.

Children today, do not always appreciate things falsely believing their happiness and contentment comes from buying everything and anything their little heart desires. Experience tells us that initially there is excitement over the latest ‘whatever’ but pretty soon that fades into dissatisfaction and wanting MORE. Sound familiar? Our kids are just like us!

Spoilt kids are a product of our materialistic, consumer-driven culture and they’ve learnt it from us!

I admit, my kids have learnt from me. They’ve been on enough shopping trips to see that mummy gets pretty darn excited when she sees a sale and is so happy when she’s buying things that she rings daddy to tell him all about it!

Children today, have an urealistic sense of entitlement (but so do we!)

Why shouldn’t I have what I want? Afterall, I deserve it!  This is another belief we have been taught to believe through marketing and advertising.

We don’t deserve a diamond ring or new car anymore than a child in an African village deserves to starve. It’s a ridiculous, deceptive belief system  created and fuelled by advertising.

So, How did my children become greedy, selfish, self-righteous little brats just like me?

Our desire to give our kids the best is constantly being exploited. Companies try to convince us that buying educational toys will help our children reach their potential and what good parent would say no? We have been taught to believe that by giving our kids all the things they want and more that they will have more opportunities than we did growing up. However, if we felt deprived of materialistic things as children, odds are we were already influenced by societies consumerism. If we felt we were ‘missing’ something in the way of nice clothes, toys, etc.. then we have been deceived. In reality, some nicer clothes and extra barbies wouldn’t have made our childhood any different.

Hands up. Who wants spoilt children?

I think it’s fair to say that none of us want spoilt children. There is something incredibly unappealing about a ungrateful, selfish child (or adult for that matter!). We don’t want our kids to be like that but the reality is that unless we confront it now (and confront it in ourselves), it will only get worse!

What can we do about it?

It all comes down to the values we want to instill in our children.

I want my kids to be generous, compassionate and thankful. I want them to consider others not only themselves and I don’t want them to think that shopping (or money) is central to their happiness and well being.

Kids have learnt to be spoilt from our example. Our kids truly are a reflection of ourselves and when we see undesirable characteristics in them it is important to look first at ourselves before blaming others.

If we want our children to embrace values of generosity and selflessness than we need to model those values.  We CAN help change our kids but only if we are prepared to change ourselves and confront our own spoilt attitudes.

See Part 2 on “To spoil or not to spoil

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