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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spoiling

Growing up, my parents were not the "ideal" parents. They were the type of parents who hired a babysitter for my sister and I anytime they went anywhere. They both worked full-time running their own business, and when they weren't working they spent a lot of time at business dinners, or parties and we always had an endless stream of nannies at our door who filled in when we needed a boo boo kissed or a hand to hold.

My sister and I craved our parents attention and were always jealous of our friends mothers who packed them wonder bread sandwiches for lunch, did their hair every morning, and inquired about their day at school every single day. My sister and I were the kids who bought lunch every day, but some days we didn't because my mom forgot to buy our lunch tickets because she was too busy and on those days we skipped lunch. I was always leaving permission slips that needed to be signed on the counter, and would find them unsigned the next day.

NOTE: This isn't a sob story (because if it was it would be lame), I'm just trying to show you a different side to parenting.

My parents focused all of their time and energy growing their business. The same business that keeps both my husband and I employed today (and we are very grateful for that). My parents could afford all the toys I wanted, but my sister and I felt a little starved for attention. Most of my parents friends and family called my sister and I spoiled because my parents made up for their lack of attention with lots of "things". We were spoiled with toys, but we were not spoiled with a mother and father who did everything for us. Is the kid who is given lots of material things, but forced to learn things on their own really spoiled? Or is the kid who might not have a ton of material things but has a parent who smothers them and does not teach them how to do things for them self?

I think you can really "spoiling" a child by not preparing them for real life.

I never realized until recently that my parents purposely threw us out into the world, and didn't do things for us because they wanted us to learn. My mom and I talked about this recently, and it never occurred to me this was intentional; we always assumed they were just too busy.

I ended up becoming very self sufficient. I had to learn how to take care of myself, do laundry, make my own dinner, and be responsible because my mom and dad didn't do everything for me. I've had a job continually since I was sixteen years-old. I wasn't forced into working that young, I wanted to work. I saw what the product of hard work was and I wanted it. If I want something, I go for it, I don't want for it to be given to me. I can solve my own problems because I've always had to. I've seen others my age struggle with becoming a responsible adult. They don't know how to anything without the help of their parents, and it's definitely not because they were spoiled with lots of toys when they were children, it's because they were never given the opportunity to learn how to do things for themselves. These are the same children that get out of college with fancy degrees (while never having a job previously) and don't know what to do with themselves. Life is harsh, reality is harsh and introducing some of that harshness early on can prepare a child for the "real world". Note: I hate the term the "real world." My father used to constantly tell me that I knew nothing about the real world, and it drove my crazy.

While I want Carter to grow up self sufficient and not succumb to the woes of the world when he grows up, I find it's really hard to take that step back. He's only two so I think I'm allowed to baby him for now, but I know it's going to be hard for me when he gets older. I want to take away his pain all of the time. I want him to be happy and get everything he wants. I want to smother him with love and kisses and soothe him when he's sad for no reason. I want to do things for him the right way the first time so he doesn't have to make mistakes, but I know he has to. I don't want to watch him fall down and cry out of anger because the world jilted him. I want to run and kiss him and tell him everything is going to be okay, but I know I can't.
I think it's important to find that happy medium. While I can see why my parents made the decisions they did and I can appreciate it now, I've learned I don't have to sacrifice affection and spending time with my son to show him those same important life lessons. I want him to feel secure and loved at all times, even when he learns that life just isn't fair. I'll show him the way, but I definitely won't be doing it for him.

As of now, we don't have a babysitter (besides daycare). When Carter is not in daycare I very rarely ask someone to watch him and only when it is absolutely necessary. If I can bring my son, I do. It's very important for us to spend as much time as possible with him.

What are your thoughts on spoiling?



2 comments:

Amy said...

I think you're right that parents buying their kids lots of things does not always mean spoiled, but I also think there is more to it.

I never had much growing up. I had enough, but I was always very aware of how much things cost or if something was too expensive for us. My mom worked all the time (12 hour days), but she always signed my permission slips, checked my homework, and made sure I had lunch money. I also yearned for what I call a "cookie mom" - one that picked me up from school and made me a snack of cookies and milk when I got home (and packed cute lunches with notes inside). I had to beg my mom to get off early to make it to back to school night or open house and sometimes she couldn't go. I don't think she smothered me - I also worked right when I turned 16, got a crappy car, paid for my own gas, movie tickets, etc. I have a bachelor's and masters, but not because my mom helped me get into college or even paid my way (I'll be paying back student loans for many years to come).

My point is, parenting is tough and everyone does it differently. People make mistakes, but in the end, kids need love, which I got so much of growing up and I know Carter will, too.

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