This article caught my attention.
It talks about a mum who throws out her children’s icecreams after they fail to acknowledge the worker serving them.
My first thought was “good on you”. About time I heard about a parent willing to stand their ground over values instead of indulgent parents who are scared to say no incase their children dislike them.
This is twofold and funnily enough links (at least in my mind) to a book I was reading reviews about yesterday. The book is by the author Madeline Levine PhD “The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids”.
I was reflecting about the concept of entitled children. Surely entitlement is primarily a taught value stemming from indulgence? Who is it that is doing the indulgence and why?
Many parents indulge as a way to keep peace. That peace is broader again. Why does getting what you want bring peace? Perhaps it feeds our sense of competition? Having what others have means in theory that our children have equal or better advantage and the perception is that denial may indeed disadvantage them both socially and academically. But who is pushing? To what end? Enough. Average. Are these words that bring judgemental and fear of failure for many parents. It is the dog chasing its tail as many work more and longer hours so we must compensate with quality rather than quantity. Yet ironically that then seems to happen often… earn more to spend more. Resulting in a treasure trove of material possessions. Lots of toys. Lots of extra curricula activities. Lots of top designer clothes. Yet time poor. No time left to lazily play.
When the answer is always yes. When children are indulged with their material fantasies who is it really for? A friend recently posted on Facebook asking for gift suggestions for her 2 year old who has “everything”. A slew of responses rained in. .. All replied to with “got it already”. Since when does a child under 2 have so many toys that there are no options left? At that age she probably lacks insight to being that indulged. It almost felt as if the mother was gloating. Look how special and lucky her child is. Miss Bee doesn’t have everything but everything she has had been thoughtfully chosen to be age appropriate, robust, open ended to promote thinking, gender non specific, engaging and as minimally commercially consumer driven as possible. That is my gift to her.
I like to think deeply about values. About what sort of adult I want to raise. My parenting derives from a top down approach. I like to think about what values I’d like to see in my child as an adult, what skills they will need to function independently with grace and humour. Another book I have been reading is by the author Carol Dweck PhD “Mindset the new psychology of success”. The crux being that when praise is external motivation is reduced. Two quotes I like are “the problem is when being special begins to mean better than others. A more valuable human being. A superior person. An entitled person” p30 and ” if you’re somebody when you’re successful, what are you when you’re unsuccessful? “. P31
At the end of the day I wonder what is left for a child given everything to want our strive towards? The child who is taught over time to perceive themselves as entitled is unlikely to show gratitude when given something.
Back to the icecreams. The more I thought about it (the kids in question were 9,8 and 5) the more I thought that top down approach would be my tactic. Set the expectations before entering the shop. Run through appropriate etiquette expectations and discuss consequences. Then throw that icecream out. Truthfully. At 9 and 8 years I would hand them the money to pay and get them to buy the icecreams. If they failed to follow through with my expectations of polite gratitude I’d say “you chose not to say thankyou which means you chose not to have an icecream”. I would offer people waiting a free icecream. That said… If as the original article suggested her children were repeat offenders. .. hmm I’d be more inclined not to even buy them an icecream and tell them why.
I like to indulge Miss Bee with love, experience, family, values and fun. It’s my hope this will make her an adult I like.