|Are We Spoiling Our Kids? - by Louise Geaney
ARE the children in your life running your life? Are work commitments
outside the home making you feel guilty that you leave your offspring with
others to be reared, resulting in you indulging them a little too much
when you are re-united? If so, you’re not alone, according to the experts,
who say many new age parents are failing to assume the role of the adult
in the relationship with their children, who are consequently running the
Guilt is the Number One factor to blame for this situation says American
clinical psychologist Diane Ehrensaft. The author of the book Spoiling
Childhood: How Well-Meaning Parents Are Giving Children Too Much-But Not
What They Need says parents today are often caught up in a guilt-driven
pendulum, swinging between parenting too little and parenting too much.
According to Ehrensaft we are giving too much freedom, material goods,
and empty praise to our children in place of setting limits and giving
guidance, time and love.
“We parent like Tarzan on a rope, wildly swinging from never being there
enough to being there far too much,” Ehrensaft says, of modern parents
who are caught in the juggling act of trying to have ‘it all’. Today’s
parents are, she says, caught in the predicament of wanting to pursue their
own needs/ambitions while at the same time wanting to give their children
more opportunities and materialistic items than they themselves had. “It
is a predicament for these professional, middle-class parents who have
gone after what they have wanted - career, money, happiness - sometimes
at the expense of their children's well being, and yet who also act as
if the sky is the limit for their children,” she says
The families that frequent the psychologist’s practice sound familiar.
Parents that work hard, yet help out with homework and organise after school
activities for their kids’ five days a week. In these families children
rarely help around the house and their demands are met with the least amount
of resistance. Sounds like a scene from many Irish homes- but where does
the boundary between wanting to encourage our children’s growth and rearing
potentially unsociable bullies begin to blur?
The word discipline may cause some parents to break out in a rash, but
according to psychologists it’s a necessary part of the parenting process.
Parents in 2005 may want their children to be free spirited and more spontaneous
than previous generations, but this doesn’t mean they don’t need their
parents to act like, well, parents. Without firm parameters, authorities
say children are forced to scream and whine, desperately looking for the
reference point from which to grow and develop.
“Worrying about our children not liking us if we discipline them can
prevent some parents from establishing firm structures for behaviour that
our children need. We must stop abdicating the throne and accept our position
as an adult," Ehrensaft says. "Children do not do well with deposed kings
and queens for parents. To be good parents, we definitely must give generously
of ourselves, but never give ourselves over to our children," she states.
About The Author
Louise Geaney is a freelance journalist based in Ireland and founder
of the parenting website and podcast show www.go-mums.com