Is Your Child Spoiled?

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At lunch the other day, a friend and I were discussing our families’ summer vacation plans.

As we were going through the things we wanted to do, my friend causally mentioned that her children were puzzled when she told them that her family vacations included long drives cross country in the family station wagon, crusty peanut butter sandwiches, stale potato chips, and warm iced tea from thermos as lunch.

She followed up that her kids expect their vacations to be at Disney high-end resorts, sushi lunches, and the comforts of beach front villas.

Without thinking, I jumped down my friend’s throat and said “Our children expect this because this is what we give to them.”

And so the discussion began.

First, I apologized for jumping down her throat. But then I backed myself up with the fact that our children only know what they are exposed to – with everything in life. Whether it’s going to Disney every year, playing tennis or not knowing that Pringles existed… can you imagine that? Just imagine my surprise the first time I tasted a Pringle after years of eating the basic brand chip. I feel deeply in love, and still have the bruise on the back of my head from falling over in ecstasy.

Nevertheless, my point is that we as parents are exposing our children to these wonderful “things.” And who cares – I don’t think it’s spoiling. Don’t we want our children to have the experiences we didn’t have? Don’t we want them explore places that we weren’t exposed to? To grow? Learn? Expand their horizons? If I have the means to take my family to Dubai, stay in the lap of luxury with butler service, and have someone feed me grapes – then I’ll go for it!

But – and isn’t there always a BUT – but I’ll also teach my boys that we can do this because we work hard. That things in life do not come easy, and I won’t raise entitled spoiled brats. It’s my job as a parent to help them understand that we need to appreciate the things that we have, that we need to give back, that it doesn’t matter where you come from – and that each human being is as valuable and as special as the next.

I’m not sure if my friend expected such a debate over her Caesar salad, I don’t know if she merely wanted to vent, or was just making conversation. What I do know is that she is raising beautiful loving thoughtful children, and it doesn’t matter if they go to Dubai or go camping, as long as there is love, respect, and kindness.

Because that’s all that really matters, right?

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