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.
- 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?