Monday, July 9, 2012

Are American Kids Spoiled? - Uh, yeah!

There's been a lot of talk in the media lately about American kids being spoiled. I find it hilarious that people are treating this as news. Of course American kids are spoiled! Any parent knows that!  I wonder on a daily basis what I have done to make my children so spoiled and unappreciative of the things they have. Most moms I talk to feel the same way. It's a major contributor to our perceived failures as parents because we all feel we are to blame, and we probably are. And although I accept that my kids are spoiled rotten, and feel I do need to make changes as far as how I am raising them, it really pisses me off the way the media is constantly trying to tell me how much I suck as a parent. I know I suck, but at least I care that I suck, right? It's the guilt and self-loathing that makes us strive to be better. If I didn't care, I wouldn't try. Does this article in the  New Yorker make a valid point? Absolutely. But it really is nothing new. Actually, I don't even think it started with this generation of kids. It started with ours.

I was totally spoiled as a child. Not necessarily by the amount of toys I had, though that is a small part of it. I think it was the fact that I never had to do much of anything for myself. In our mother's generation, it was considered part of your job as a mom, particularly if you stayed home, to do all of the cleaning and cooking and whatever else needed to be done so your children could play and be kids. While that sounds nice in theory, and it was nice, it left my mother overworked and me under-prepared for when I left home.

Now that mentality has evolved and mutated with our generation.

Now we have to deal with the onslaught of advertizing infecting our children's (and our) minds with a need for useless things. And even if we try to avoid the pitfalls of over-buying for our children, we still have friends and family to contend with.

We are so much more fearful as well. How could we not be with the media flooding us with information on everything from stranger danger, to peanut allergies, to BPA, to cell phone usage causing brain damage. We are terrified  that any little misstep is going to irreparably harm our children - enter "helicopter parenting." This is absolutely my biggest issue, I admit. I try not to be a helicopter parent" but I probably am. I want so badly to keep my kids safe that I'm afraid to let them fart sideways for fear they might strain themselves.

On that same note, we are also much more permissive than our parents generation. I'm sure guilt over working so much has something to do with it, but I think the real culprit is our need to go against the corporal punishment that many of us grew up with.  We don't want to physically discipline our kids, but we don't really know how else to do it, and we are afraid that if we do punish them, they may be emotionally scarred or something.This is less my issue as I am not afraid to punish my children, however, I'm not always consistent and that's just as bad.

So now we are left with the perfect storm of  no responsibility, no discipline and too much stuff. Yeah. Our kids are spoiled. So what now?

I have given this a great deal of thought and feel the answer is actually quite simple - we need to be lazier parents. This sounds easy, but it is actually very difficult to accomplish since it goes against everything we've been told makes a good parent.

This means:
  • Making them do their own laundry and dishes, and having them help out around the house. 
  • Allowing them to go outside in the freezing cold without a jacket or socks or whatever else they forgot  so they learn to take care of themselves. 
  • Keeping score at their little league games so they learn to accept failure.
  • Expecting the older children to help watch out for the younger ones so they learn some responsibility.   
  • Punishing them when they do something wrong - not hitting - but punishing so they learn that their behavior has consequences. 
  • And most of all, we need to make them do things for themselves whether it be buttoning their shirt or pouring their own cereal.  Because a time will come, eventually, when we just aren't there anymore to do it for them. 

This is my goal, to be a lazy mom. Who's with me?


  1. I guess that I am succeeding then! LOL My kids make their own lunch or guess what, they don't take one, although they figured out that the school will give them one for free if they forget theirs. I had to start checking their backpacks to be sure that they had one from then on. My older kids help watch the baby so that I can go to the bathroom in peace and take a shower, not to mention just because their baby brother loves them, and as I type this my older kids are emptying the dishwasher so that I don't have to. They also earn their own money by selling old toys in order to buy new ones since I won't buy them anything unless it is Christmas or their birthday. Aren't I so mean? I just have these awful visions of never having an empty nest and I refuse to let that happen. My kids already know that an adult living at home with mom and dad is not a custom that we believe in. I want to wave goodbye with tears in my eyes as my kiddos leave the state for the first time just like my mom did with me. :o) I am visiting from blog hops everyday. Come visit me and my family at :o)

    1. That's awesome! I am trying. I do make them help clean a lot and I try not to buy them too much stuff, but I still do. It's a sickness, I know. I'm really trying though.

  2. I say we call it "teaching independence" or "knowing when to delegate" instead of lazy, but yeah I do agree with you that we shouldn't do EVERYTHING for our kids. In the past year I had an epiphany that my kids didn't really do anything around the house (they are 4 and 6). They complain every time still, but nowadays I make them pick up their own stuff and I'm slowly easing them into the idea of chores.
    They still have too much stuff and I hate that, but how to clean it all out without damaging them pyschologically (watched an episode of hoaders where a lady's father had thrown out all her stuff when she was a kid and blammo she's now mentally ill - eek!)?

    1. Ha! I saw that episode too! It was pretty messed up what e family did. My trick is that I will hide junky toys I want to get rid of, like McDonalds toys, and wait to see if they ask for them. If after a month or s, they haven't mentioned them - into the garbage. The nicer stuff is much more difficult though.

      I think we get used to having to do things for them, that it just doesn't occur to us to make them do it once they've reached the point that they're capable. My daughter helped me fold clothes the other day and I as shocked. She did a great job. When she learned to do this, I don't know, but she's helping more often, that's for sure.


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