Ways to Unspoil Your Child

One of the great concerns of my life is that my children grow to be rigorous, ambitious, and resourceful adults. I find myself frequently concerned over this issue. My own sense of dogged determination came out of the survival skills I learned being the youngest of six children. I am acutely sensitive to my own family’s interpretation of this, however, when you are one of many, any attitude or gesture short of “I MUST HAVE”, means you will not receive. I learned quickly how to maneuver through group situations to get what I needed, when I needed it. ‘The squeaky wheel’ is only one of many tactics which I mastered early in life. I have no regrets about being from a large family; to the contrary, I loved it (and still do). I also believe that these early years were vital to my future, as my sense of “Oh Yes I Can”, carried me to a full scholarship to college. I felt early in my life that if I wanted something, I had to get it myself.

Which brings me to my great concern for my children. My own sense of determination transcends to the welfare of my children. I am determined to make certain that each of their needs are met. Sometimes when people ask me what I “do”, I answer “I get four children dressed, fed, to school on time, with papers signed, healthy lunches made, picked up to practice from practice, with homework done, dinner fed, bath, read to, with clean- proper clothing, prayers 3 times a day and always always teeth brushed.” I do do do. I do so much I wonder if they will ever become hungry with determination. Will they ever push themselves, or will I always be the one pushing them? My mother didn’t have to push me; I pushed her to drive me to agents, auditions, performances. She was (and is) always supportive, but her concern was protecting me from myself and those creepy people who lurk around the entertainment industry.

So the question becomes: how do you get your children to want, when they want for nothing? I am reminded of President Teddy Roosevelt’s quote and one of my favorites:

“It is far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt, “The Strenuous Life”

Perhaps my children do not need to ‘want’ in order to become great people. Perhaps understanding that success (in any form) takes discipline and dedication. Perhaps their mother and father’s commitment and love for them will give them confidence to push through the inevitable challenges of life. Perhaps they will honor their own privilege by dedicating their lives to those who have nothing. Perhaps…

I hope it works, and welcome any suggestions. In the meantime, I continually remind them of their unique American life- a home, a family, an education, a wii…these are things that many people do not have. The other thing they do not have is a mother who is dedicated, (Mom you are annoying me, don’t kiss me in the parking lot), caring (Mom you are so mean making me wear a coat in the winter), and most of all, completely obsessed with their well being (I’m taking my bike two houses down why do I have to wear a helmet?) So they should be thankful, grateful, and humble. (As I should be too, for being SUCH a good mom to my little monsters, oh I mean my little darlings)….in the meantime I will pray for their future and hope their dogged determination includes keeping mommy happy with lots of appreciation.

Below are a few more ideas that I am considering…Note: Unspoil your children AT YOUR OWN RISK!

  • Make their own lunches.
  • Remove all but the canned food from the pantry.
  • Hide the can opener.
  • Do their own laundry.
  • Go camping, (in a tent).
  • Replace the house phones with the round dial kind/Hide the cell phones.
  • Tell them to organize their “ride home” from practice.
  • Hide most of their clothes, and give them some of your husbands hand-me-downs.
  • Remove all the batteries from the house, including all hand held remotes.
  • Disconnect the cable/internet.
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