Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Are kids spoiled today?

I cannot stand the word spoiled - just can't and not sure I ever could - so ironically enough when I titled this blog I almost changed it but then I thought that is one of the things to address. 

Spoiled - I mean seriously that is something that goes rank in your fridge or cupboard.  I have a co-worker who is 8 1/2 months pregnant and right before taking leave she came with another series of questions.  I told her with all the other questions she had asked me through her pregnancy,  that basically for me parenting is a lot about understanding how to balance what the child needs with who they are and throw in a dash of how you react to it all.  This time her questions were about picking up the baby if it cries vs letting it cry.  Now I know for everyone who did what I did - picked up child after a few minutes, sometimes it was a test cry which when not addressed led to guess I will go back to sleep, if crying continued.  I did not see letting these little boys cry until they were spent because I wanted to teach them something - for me the teaching would have been more about not getting your needs met and trust than actual "discipline".  My oldest was a crap sleeper - he woke up a lot - and I remember also putting him to bed as he got older where I, grown woman and not bikini ready size (goodness wasn't even 30s swimsuit with skirt ready) sitting on floor next to his crib and trying to commando crawl out .. just as reached the door he inevitably would cry "Mama?" to which I would delve back.  This went on until he fell asleep, or I fell asleep, for several months.  I consulted and I read and I tried sleep training.  I let him cry and cry, not quite sure how this was going to help me as I was awake now more than ever and anxious beyond belief, until he threw up.  I went in and he was still crying .. so now I had to make bed, bathe child and soothe - which took considerably longer than my usual go in when crying, pat on back, say some soft words - presto back to sleep.  He sleep trained me .. or trained me in lack of sleep.  He sleeps just fine now.

I have rules for my kids and I am one to enforce them - I yell ocassionally (ok I admit it and good for you if you do not) after enough prodding from little ones and I have punished.  I believe in creating an environment of mutual respect and so far it seems to be working.  

To many these things make my boys spoiled .. but are they? I see them with confidence in their ability and open dialogue with me in ways that I just never trusted my own parents with.  I see them come to me even when they know I will not exactly be happy to hear what they have to tell me but still out themselves instead of hoping I do not find out.  So is it spoiled or is it just parenting done for kids who just respond better to positive reinforcement and clear rules?

Kids today have a lot of stuff, I know in many places including US there are many who have no food never mind stuff, but I am going to exclude those for this blog because they need so much more than what a few words from me will give them.  They have a lot of stuff that they do not need.  I know many of my peers seem to remember a childhood of one toy and that one made of an old shoe found in a corner .. eye roll... but I remember growing up in a blue collar - middle class neighborhood and we all had toys.  Not expensive ones but still had toys.  I always appreciated what I had and worked hard at asking for more -- understanding often when it was no to what I wanted.  Yet in retrospect I had a lot of toys in the States and yes even in Romania, sent to me from overseas from my parents or from my relatives who got them somehow.  

Do kids today understand that they have a lot? Sometimes- it is a hard thing to balance for most of us.  We want them to have and enjoy things but we also want them to understand that things do not make you happy, well shoes do -sorry I digress, and that things cost money which is earned through hard work.  We want them to not have so little that they have become our political outcry at decadence but not so much that nothing makes them happy.  We want them to appreciate and be grateful for the lives they have - not for the things but for having people in their lives who want to see them happy.  

Our kids are not spoiled because with few exceptions they are not rotten.  Giving to our kids needs to be paired with them giving too .. their underused (cause if you ask them nothing is "not used ") things to those less fortunate before getting more.  That it is not ok to keep adding to the video collection.  To use their own funds as they accumulate allowance with chores, this one is fun to watch as they definitely consider their purchase much more carefully when the money has to leave their piggy banks.  

Are kids today spoiled? They are not - they may be ill behaved, they may not appreciate what they have, they may covet too much - but they are not rotten because that would mean they are done with.  As a parent we are responsible for teaching them to work toward their goals, to enjoy the moments and to appreciate what they have without looking round them bend for more.  Are kids today spoiled? No but they need to be reminded that they are loved for who they are not what they own so that they too can become parents who teach their kids how precious love is .. love is the one thing you can never give or get too much of. 

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