One of the things that my husband and I were the most surprised to discover after we became foster parents was the fact that almost every single one of our boys were terribly spoiled in a material sense. We lived in a very rural area with an extremely poor economy, and yet I remember one year when all three of our boys received the newest popular gaming system that was out on the market for Christmas.
Alternatively, our boys were neglected in every other arena possible. They weren’t given enough discipline, nor attention, nor encouragement, nor love. Every single one of them had shoes that cost ten times what mine did, however. Because they all had such an excess of material things, which was probably happening due to the guilt that their parents were looking to assuage for being so bad at parenting, they had little to no respect for the things that they did have.
My two oldest boys still remember, after a couple of weeks of me battling them to pick up their clothes off of the floor in their bedroom, that they came home to find I had spread their clothes across the front lawn. It was a demonstration that shocked and greatly angered them at first, but today they are appreciative of the message that I was sending.
This spoiling in regards to material things has grown to epic proportions in our country today. It spreads across almost every socio-economic level, and exists in households that would be considered wonderful to grow up in, as well as ones that are poor environments for raising children.
My opinion on this will not be a popular one. I believe that we are collectively buying our children too much crap, and that it is messing them up big time. When children do not understand the value of the things that they are gifted with, they begin to believe that everything in the world comes for free.
My husband and I have been berated in the past for only giving our children one dollar for a lost tooth. I know children, and adults alike, who think that it is beneath them to visit a library. I have seen young adults throw fits demanding that their parents buy them a certain trinket of a certain brand, and this is learned behavior.
If you think that it isn’t a bad thing to raise a child to be materialistic, then this is not the article for you. This is an article for people who are looking to find a way to raise their children with good values, to be conscientious adults in a world where it has become very difficult to achieve such a thing, but it is not impossible.
Our kids are eleven and eleven and nine. They share one outdated mobile phone that does not have Internet access. They have a few inexpensive tablets that they saved up for themselves, and they are only allowed to use them at home when an adult is present. They are only allowed to take them out of the house for road trips.
If my children wear any clothes that have any sort of label on them, they are hand-me-downs. They do not earn a regular allowance because their household responsibilities earn them their room and board. If they want to earn money they are required to take on extra tasks. My nine-year-old started a dog walking business, and she does very well. The money that she earns isn’t squandered either.
We have come so far from a time when people kept having children so that they would have enough hands to run their family farm. I have not decided yet if we have grown in a positive direction.
I do know that what children collectively need is more of our time and attention. Kids need more discipline and more direction, and they need a lot less stuff. Kids need to run in the grass and to play in the woods and to explore, and these things absolutely cannot be replicated electronically.
I have never, ever, met a spoiled adult that I enjoyed spending any time with. Have you? Why do we have this disconnect with understanding that spoiled children become spoiled adults? They don’t instantly wake up at eighteen and evolve into responsible generous people; it just doesn’t work that way.