Growing up in a large family, with very little income, usually doesn’t create a kid who is spoiled by having all the finer things in life. In fact, sometimes it can mean that a child lives without having some of the physical essentials of living – food, water and shelter. Growing up in poverty certainly creates a distinct outlook on life. An adult who lived that way as a child doesn’t take having those essentials for granted. He will work to provide them for himself (unless that adult simply decides “I can’t provide for myself, therefore I won’t really try.”)
But that point is not the focus today.
Today it’s the opposite – the kid who is indulged with everything he could possibly want. And there are several negative sides to that. Self-centeredness, difficulty accepting they must work, instant self-gratification issues, dissatisfaction with what they have, and lack of empathy for those with less, are some real possibilities.
Being a parent who loved my children, I too am acquainted with the temptation to indulge their every whim. After all, the love of your own child makes you want to give them the moon when you can. Your resolve to not give in to their pleas can melt away like milk chocolate left in the sun in July. Oh yes, you really do want your child to eventually become a responsible, others-focused, successful adult. But as you stare into hopeful young eyes as they eagerly beg for so-and-so, somehow your determination to give them only what they need as a child – and not just want – fades into the horizon of “But they want this so badly!”
But being a good parent doesn’t just mean loving them, providing the essentials in life, and being there when they need you. It also means saying “No” sometimes. Making yourself look beyond what they are wanting – and you’re wanting to give – and seeing if you are creating a responsible adult later on. Fun stuff? Nope, not really. We parents like to indulge our kids. And denying them all the best toys and experiences really isn’t that enjoyable.
Kids are good at pouting, getting mad, and accusing us of abusing them when we withhold unnecessary things. After all, they are just kids, and bad-mouthing seems to be a part of being immature. But we are the adults, we don’t have the luxury of making bad choices and pampering every whim. On the contrary, we hold the responsibility of teaching them to become functioning adults in a few years. And that means letting them learn how to deal with “No. For your own good, my love.”
Oh, yes, you will be yelled at and disliked – you can take that to the bank. But years later, you stand a lot better chance of proudly hugging a strong, independent, hard-working adult. One who looks at you with understanding and appreciation of your sacrifice long ago.