There’s something that has been on my mind lately and I’m curious what other people think. Are today’s parents raising spoiled children? In short, my answer would be yes. Let me explain why.
From conversations with other parents, reading chats on parent forums and catching up on various parenting blogs, combined with my observation of children around me, mine included, I am seeing a generation of parents who feel the need to “keep up with the Jones’.” But let me ask you, who exactly are you trying to keep up with? Where has this standard of parenting come from? Why are parents going to extreme measures to create magical childhoods for their children?
From throwing elaborately themed birthday parties to buying the best toys, to taking a baby trick-or-treating when they can’t even eat candy and are too young to even know what Halloween is. It’s spending more money on clothes for our kids than we do for ourselves. It’s photoshoots for every occasion: first birthday cake smash, Christmas, Easter, little girls in their mother’s wedding dress…the list goes on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of some of these things. Not all of it, but some. I know that doing many of these things is an effort to give our children wonderful childhood memories, but I also wonder if some parents are doing it more for themselves. I sometimes feel like parenting has become a competition of sorts. Where did this notion come from? When did this all start, and where does it end? I do believe there is such a thing as too much. They say a little goes a long way, but in the world of parenting, when is a little bit enough?
I fear we are inadvertently teaching our children entitlement and setting expectations in life that will be impossible to keep up when our little ones become adults themselves. I’ve seen tantrums thrown when a child doesn’t get their way, have had negotiations with my toddler to get dessert and been given ultimatums by these pint-sized humans I’m raising. There’s nothing like being told by your daughter that she’ll stop misbehaving once you get the juice she so rudely demanded. What gives? This isn’t how I’m trying to raise my children, so where did this all come from?
I have witnessed a co-dependency in my own kids, and others, that boggles my mind. Despite efforts to teach them about playing independently and using their imagination, I often struggle to get my son and daughter to learn to play on their own. Sure, I’m happy to see them play nicely together, but as many siblings do, they can fight or disagree on what to play, and once it’s decided they will entertain themselves separately, they still often want to rely on technology to stay occupied.
What’s happened to the simplicities of childhood’s past? When birthday parties were at the child’s house to play games, eat pizza and cake and open presents. When lazy weekend afternoons were spent doing puzzles, playing with Lego or colouring. When gifts under the Christmas tree included a couple of playthings, socks or underwear instead of a pile of all the latest and greatest toys.
Unfortunately, it seems we’re in a time when children and adults alike are over-stimulated. Somehow we’ve established a way of life that has us constantly on-the-go. Always busy, always entertained and always plugged in. If as adults we have a difficult time slowing down to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, how can we as parents teach our children to do the same? We are the ones who are setting the examples, and I have to say that I think many of us are guilty of raising the bar too high.
I for one can say that I’m tired of putting pressure on myself to keep up with this standard of parenting. I want to show my son and daughter that sometimes a few household items and creative thinking can make an afternoon of fun. I want to teach my kids that they can still find happiness even without having all of newest toys and latest technology.
So, are we raising spoiled kids? Perhaps we are, but it’s not too late to make a change. Let’s lead by example and show our children how to slow down and appreciate simple moments in life, like taking a walk through the park. Perhaps for every occasion that they may receive a gift, we get our kids to pick out one toy item to donate. Maybe every time your child says they’re bored, parents can take that opportunity to enjoy some family time together to play a game, rather than everyone grabbing the nearest tablet or remote.
Let’s set a new standard of parenting that is less stressful for parents and gives our children expectations they can actually live up to. Let’s stop “keeping up with the Jones’” and have them keep up with us.