Don’t Spoil Them!

Parents frequently complain about teenagers who lack responsibility, are ungrateful, and view privilege as rights. The reality is that these teenagers do not wake up in this condition on their thirteenth birthday! It started while they were toddlers. The good news is that it’s never too late.

Today’s children have rights and privileges in excess and almost no responsibilities.

Parents shouldn’t do anything for children if they can do it for themselves. While we can do it faster and better, we are continually interfering with our children’s learning opportunities. Take, for example, the parent that remade the (badly-made) bed of their four-year-old, or packed the lunchbox for their 10-year-old. They will be much more likely to thank you for their delicious lunchbox on Fridays if the norm is to pack their own Monday through Thursday. Then it’s a token of your love.

From the age of three (at the latest), start including your child in daily chores around the home. They should serve the family by being part of the team that handles daily necessities, like cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning and the like. For example, toddlers can be included in making dinner by cutting the avocado for the salad with a plastic knife. They can also scoop dry rice into the pot. This way they upskill according to their age – this will not be the case if they sit in front of the TV while mom cooks dinner! Rights and privileges should not be seen as separate from responsibilities. The whole family can then relax while watching the next episode of their favourite series after the day’s work is done.

Today’s children are ungrateful and take everything for granted.

An ungrateful child is moulded by too many privileges, too much pocket money, too many gifts (or gifts that are too expensive). We are not doing them any favours! What will become of them if our grown-up children live in a South Africa without the luxuries we can still afford? Will your children get by? Do not set them up for disappointment or misperceptions about how the real world works.

Make a list of your family’s privileges. Make sure to include electricity; clothing; furniture and decor; transport; education; games, toys and swimming pools; wifi; subscriptions to entertainment channels; devices and lastly cleaners, gardeners and such services. The idea is not to take these luxuries away, but to try to ensure your kids know how blessed your family is. Don’t use these privileges to manipulate your child – express your gratitude and establish gratefulness as part of your family’s values.

Children today get away with rudeness and bad attitudes.

Privileges and luxuries without boundaries, responsibilities or consequences is becoming more and more the norm.

As children perform their daily chores, attitude should also be considered. (Be sure to set the example of a healthy attitude towards your own responsibilities, mom). No moaning and complaining about it. In order to complete a task successfully, the right attitude is also required. We should do everything as if for the Lord.

Rudeness towards someone that helped you out should never be tolerated. The teen shouting from her room why her brand-new shirt is not in her cupboard can lose laundry services for a week and do it herself to appreciate how much effort it takes.

A word on schoolwork and the attitude towards teachers. Education is a privilege, isn’t it? It also comes with responsibilities and boundaries for all parties involved. We as parents can be grateful that we can pursue our own careers or passions while someone else educates our (ungrateful) children. Our kids in turn should have a healthy attitude and be respectful of those helping them acquire skills for their future careers. Every person will be held accountable for their own actions and attitude.

If you have been spoiling your children, start by confessing it to them and then start doing it differently today. You will show your love and affection by preparing your child for adulthood.