Unspoiling Spoiled Kids
Tell 'em to get their own juice box. Why doing everything for our kids is turning them into spoiled children, and how to undo the damage
“What?! I cleaned it already!” my son yelled, gesturing to the floor.
He grudgingly took the rag and tile cleaner I held out. As he sprayed halfheartedly around the toilet, I explained that a swipe with a piece of TP doesn't cut it. We'd been over this 392 times.
I knew this was our doing. It's often much easier for my wife or me to clean things ourselves. Another reason this is partly my fault: I didn't properly take the time to teach him to either a) shoot straight or b) be accountable for when you don't. But I didn't know how bad it was until he muttered: “When am I going to start getting paid for all this?”
I didn't lose it in front of him, but my emotions swirled like a 12-ingredient smoothie. What the…? He thinks it's OK to make a mess and expect me to clean it or get a reward? Have I, by expecting too little, cheated him of the values he'll need to cope with, uh, real life?
Spoiling kids has been discussed everywhere lately, as parents grapple with the decisions that may be easy in the short term (Fine, you can have a toy at the dollar store), but have implications for the long term (Is my laundry done yet? I have grad-school classes).