We’re Ruining Our Kids In the Name of Love

When I was growing up, one of the worst insults that could be hurled at a child (or his parents) was that he was a spoiled brat. It was a phrase that wasn’t used very often, but when it was, it stung. No one wanted to hear the perception that a child was spoiled.

Now, we hardly hear the phrase, but maybe it’s because so many children are spoiled. Has the phrase decreased as the problem increased?

Out of curiosity, I looked up the meaning of “spoil.” Here, it means “to harm the character of a child by being too lenient or indulgent.

That’s convicting.

It’s hard to parent, and it’s particularly hard to parent when we have long-term goals but face pressing, short-term issues. When a child is squalling because he wants a piece of candy, it’s so much easier to give him the candy to keep the peace. When he is complaining because all of his friends have the latest, expensive whatever-it-is, it’s so much easier to give in to make him happy with you. When the house is dirty, it’s just easier to clean it yourself than to teach him and then insist that he do his part.

It’s easier to spoil the child, and maybe that’s why we’re doing it. It’s easier, and it makes the child happy. After all, isn’t that what we’re after? Happy children?

I hope not.

The measuring stick of successful parenting is definitely not happy children. Well-adjusted, responsible, kind, and selfless? Absolutely. Happy and spoiled? No way.

Look back at the definition of spoiled. When we are too lenient or too indulgent, giving our kids too much of what they don’t need, we are simultaneously harming their character.

We try to justify our indulgence and leniency by telling ourselves we’re showing them love. We tell ourselves that we’re giving our children everything we never had. We convince ourselves that we don’t want them to feel different, left out, or lacking.

Jennie Scott
Jennie Scott
Jennie Scott is a divorced and remarried mom of two whose life has been far from perfect and completely different from what she planned. What she has found, though, is that God has provided exactly what she needed through it all. He is teaching her to enjoy the journey even when the path is winding and difficult. Jennie blogs at JennieGScott.com.

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