Share your experiences with parents who spoil their children

Over in this Pit thread, we discover Foxy40’s problems with her son come from spoiling him.

I have a co-worker who had to take off work to clean her house, and she has an 8 year old daughter who does not know how to use a vaccuum cleaner. Another co-worker has a daughter who’s never had to iron her clothes. My own SIL has two sons, about 8 and 9, who don’t do any chores, leaving it to their father to come home from work and clean up the kitchen.

When Ivygirl was little, I took her to watch a ballet lesson to see if she wanted to participate.* While waiting, I overheard a conversation between two Supermoms:

“Yes, Alexis has jazz dance lessons on Tuesdays and and Thursdays, ballet on Mondays and Wednesdays, and soccer on Saturdays.”

“Oh, it’s the same with Jennifer. I swear, it seems I spend all the time in the car.”

“Yes, just last week, I wanted to take a break from cooking, so I wanted to go out to dinner. Imagine! Alexis just wanted to stay in and order a pizza!”

“Tsk tsk tsk” etc.

All I could think was “And when does she do her homework?” I mean, we work a full day, the last thing we want to do every single night is go here and there and yon. What makes parents think kids want to do it?

*I was going to involve her in ONE extracurricular activity, and when she dropped ballet after three years we got her into guitar. But only one at a time.

I wasn’t spoiled, but I didn’t run the vacuum cleaner or iron either. That was my Mom’s job. Seriously: my father earned money outside the home, my brother and I were students, and mom took care of the house. I don’t think I was spoiled by not having to do chores, but others may disagree.

I’m 24 and I can proudly say I don’t think I’ve ever ironed anything. But then… I’m a guy. :smiley: I think the extracurricular activity overload is sometimes a case of vicarious living by the parents through their kids.

On topic, I had a good friend in high school who came from an extremely wealthy family, and it became rather obvious that while he, as the middle sibling out of 3, was relatively well adjusted, the youngest and oldest both had extreme entitlement issues compounded by parents who thought a suitable punishment was to force the kid to only watch the TV in the family room rather than their personal one in their own room.

The only other one I think of was a friend in middle school who was doted on entirely by his parents, so much so that myself and another friend were lambasted by the mother for not paying enough attention to him when visiting his house. Last I heard, he had dropped out of school and had a kid. :frowning:

I had a friend growing up who had a stay-at-home mom and she was extremely spoiled. She called me up one afternoon after school (this was in high school) and asked me how to make a tuna fish sandwich. She’d never operated a can opener before. Her family was very wealthy and the kids always had whatever they wanted, they took European vacations every year, went away to expensive camps, etc. As an adult, she and her brother are both extremely successful (they’ve both earned doctorates in very challenging fields), happily married, and my friend is a loving mother to her own children.

I’m not sure an extra-curricular activity overload is being spoiled, necessarily. I’m sure they don’t consider each lesson a treat.

Once I got a new co-worker at a movie theatre. She was 15. I had to teach her to use a broom and dustpan.

I knew a girl in junior high and high school whose mother had a severe case of “nouveau riche” – whatever Susie wanted, Susie got, and nothing but the best for her. She wanted a sewing machine? She got the top of the line Singer. She needed a jacket for school? She got an $800 fox fur jacket. (I kid you not. And this was in 1967 or so, when $800 went a lot farther than it does today.) All the while, Mom couldn’t keep a maid because the abuse she would heap on the poor women who she’d hire to work for her was just horrendous. Susie just couldn’t understand why the rest of us had to make do with lesser stuff; she truly had no concept of the value of money.

I moved and we lost track a couple of years later, but a few months ago just out of curiosity I googled Susie to see how she turned out. I don’t know if she’s become as obnoxious as her mom, but she’s a very successful real estate agent in a wealthy area. So presumably her children are also being spoiled.

Cat Fight, I see your point, but I see a correlation between not having the Princess lift a finger to put a cup in the sink and making sure they’re in training for Lil Miss Extra Special of Bohunk, USA. Kids need to play, yes, but they also need to learn chores.

We debated chores over on the mom-boards recently. One gal felt that assigning work to her children was akin to cheating them out of childhood.

I think it’s called raising an adult who can take care of themselves. And teaching them that Mommy and Daddy have lives, too.

My kids help out, you damn well believe it. They’re 3.5 and they can put away their toys and their laundry. Last night they helped me make salsa. And I also made them mop up the floor when they created a huge mess with green paint (they actually did a very good job).

My nieces are very spoiled, and I don’t like to be around them as a result. One is 12, the other almost 8. The chores they do around the house are absolutely minimal - clearing a table after dinner occasionally, for example, for which they apparently are praised to high heaven. Their parents are well-off, and buy everything new for the kids rather than make them look after their belongings and find them when they are needed. They are also in multiple social activities after school - my sister (their mom) works at a professional job with fairly long hours, and she is also expected to look after the house and run the kids around (her husband is also spoiled, but we won’t get into that now). Rather than getting her 12 year old to help with anything, she now has a maid come in.

As for discipline, these girls were punished the usual way - ineffectively. First it was counting - “If I count to three, you have to go to your room.” Then there was the going to your room for a time-out thing - the usual modern kid’s room, with cable television, a computer, and every toy available. Some punishment. The oldest has always been a miserable brat - yelling, slamming doors, never doing as she was asked; the younger is following in her footsteps, because she’s seen how you get your way at their house - scream until you get what you want. They both fight like cats and dogs now, and I just don’t want to be around them. The hormone storm will be starting with the 12 year old soon, and I can hardly wait - a shrieking, out-of-control child should be a lovely hormonal 13 year old, don’t you think?

I don’t have high hopes for my nieces; their parents have been very negligent in giving them tools to cope with adult life, but we’ll see how it goes. They may surprise me yet.

Extracurricular overload seems to say that parents really want to overextend their kids’ day/make it look like their overachievers…oh, and not spend time with them.

I’ve also only started ironing recently. I never thought of myself as spoiled…

I didn’t have to do many household chores when I was growing up, we had a maid. But I had to mow the yard and help with farm work sometimes. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I usually did it after being told eleventy times, just like other kids, I reckon.

This is the way it was done in my house too, for the most part. The first time I did laundry or cooked a meal was at college (and no, it wasn’t a disaster. The ins and outs of basic house work are self explanatory.) My parents also bought me just about anything I wanted, although I had to wait for Christmas or a birthday for big things, but I never really took advantage of it by asking for too much.

This doesn’t work for everyone, but it was fine for me.

My kids did absolutely minimal chores, and they didn’t turn out spoiled. What spoils a child is giving her everything she wants, immediately, without her having to work for it, or earn it in some way, or wait for it–and and it means saying “no” on occasion, and sticking to it.

My kids were given allowances, but it wasn’t “for doing chores”, it was because as family members they were entitled to a share of the family moolah for pocket money. And they did the minimal chores they were assigned (besides keeping their own personal space reasonably clean and doing their own laundry after age 11, and complying with reasonably good grace with my occasional request to “pick up everything in the living room that’s yours and take it upstairs”) because as family members, they were expected to help share in the task of keeping the communal living space tidy. So they all had a turn at “designated trash taker-outer”, and Bonzo mowed the lawn, and La Principessa cleared off the entire dining room table every Sunday for lunch. And every so often they’d shovel out the coffee table, which was never any of MY stuff, because I pick up my crap when I finish watching a movie, thankyouverymuch, I would point out.

I guess I have a higher tolerance for clutter than most people. :smiley:

If they wanted more spending money, Mom could always find some extra work to do. Washing dishes was always $2 a sinkload, for starters.

We were raised by “old fashion” parents, although one of them was probably psychotic, so it colors the results. Chores, no allowance or entertainment money.

My father thought that my cousins were completely spoiled because they were given not only the option on not eating food they didn’t like (which we weren’t) but also my aunt and uncle would cook different types of pancakes for them.

He was convinced that these kids were all going to be criminals when they grew up.

I posted this in the referenced thread:

My Boss has a sister who is a total fuckup. The family has taken care of her all her miserable crackhead life. Somehow she gave birth to a daughter who is beautiful and intelligent.

The Boss’s mother took the child in and spoiled the shit out of her. Nothing was ever her fault. By the time the child (I’ll call her Bernie) was 14, she was having guys over for sex-and-drug parties. The police came to our office to warn my Boss about her main boyfriend.

The Bank called one day about a lot of money being taken out of Grandma’s account with her ATM card. Boss goes to the bank, gets the video that clearly shows Bernie & her friends using the card on several occasions. She confronts Bernie about it, and the girl says “You always blame me. It wasn’t me. Why do you have to pick on me?” Grandmother throws Bernie out and mama takes her in.

We needed a aide for the summer and thought a job might turn the girl around. She sat around the office, using the Internet and the phone, and started letting her girlfriends do the same. I told the Boss to get rid of her. We drew up a contract of what Bernie had to do and she refused to sign it. Bernie was out.

Bernie’s boyfriend moved in with her and Mama, in an apartment owned by the Boss. He needed drug money and wanted her to get her friends to give it to her. When they refused, he beat the shit out of her. Boss filed charges and put his ass in jail. I told Bernie “Look, he is going to say it’s your fault, he is going to say he will never do it again, and he is going to say he’s sorry. He is going to ask to take you back. If you do, you’re a fool and I don’t want to know you.” She followed the script and I gave up on her.

Bernie never graduated high school, doesn’t work, and spends her days sitting around mommy’s house doing weed and having sex. She is now twenty and I am so angry with her. She has good looks, brains, and a family that would support her, yet she is willing to throw it all away.

This is the second time you have cited the 8 year old and the vacuum cleaner. I am curious, are you saying the 8 year old should be responsible for cleaning the house so her mother doesn’t have to take time off work? If not, what is the connection you are making between these two facts?

In general, I do think there is a dynamic which goes on in which children do not feel that they are really a part of the family but are in some way the reason for the family instead. This, I think, sets up a situation in which children feel entitled (and why not).

One of the ways in which we are part of a family is by caring for things and for each other. Doing particular chores may be a part of that, but it may not. I am not sure the particulars matter. But I am sure that within this dynamic a lot of anger is generated – on the part of the children, who feel themselves in many ways shut out and isolated from the family itself, and also on the part of the parents.

I think there is another dynamic which can easily happen in which parents focus on giving their children a particular kind of childhood or youth and in which this becomes in some ways the focus of their parenting. A more useful focus for parenting, it seems to me, is adulthood, not childhood. It reminds me of a t-shirt I once had in which a scientist guy has filled a blackboard with equations. In the lower right hand quadrant of this blackboard chock-full of mathematical reasoning is this: “and then a miracle occurs” and then the conclusion. The idea seems to be that we give our children a Happy Childhood, “and then a miracle occurs”, and then they become happy and self sufficient adults. It’s all very well to say that it doesn’t work like that. but these kinds of dynamics set themselves up over time and can be very difficult to see when you are in the middle of it.

I am not at all sure that the problems in that thread come from spoiling; I think they ultimately come from a combination of these two dynamics.

edited to fix a typo.

My kids are probably not spoiled, but they really don’t do much in the way of chores. In order of priority, do their homework, walk the dog, put away their clean clothes from the laundry, bring in the empty trash cans. If they bring home good grades they are rewarded, this has been $20 for straight As and $10 for all As and Bs for a grading period. If they get all As for the whole year they get another $20 at the end of the year. I might change this a bit this year as my daughter starts middle school, maybe on a per class basis. We’ll see.

They each have one regular “extra curricular activity”, my daughter has been playing soccer for five years, my son has played soccer previously but now plays baseball. Just with these two each in one sport it can be a tremendous amount of getting around. My daughter’s soccer team has games that span several counties during the regular season, with some as much as an hour away. It’s a choice we make, especially as I think it’s good for them to balance physical endeavour with school work, and as some studies have shown, particularly for girls, that sports participation can help avoid some very unwanted other “activities”.

Up until now we’ve not given them extra allowance, but I am going to start to put some into their bank acount on a regular basis, for school or other important things that might come up.

They never ask me for anything while in the store. They get a few presents at their birthday and christmas, but most of the christmas presents come from my parents, who give a certain amount for each of their grandkids (plus a Savings Bond on their birthdays). They also tend to get ice cream or such when they visit grandma, and sometimes I take grandma to task for that.

My daughter has asked me about a cellphone and getting her ears pierced recently (she’ll be 12 in December). I told her she doesn’t need a cellphone, and she’s lost that argument to-date (Most of my friends have one… what if I need to reach you in an emergency? Answer: borrow one of your friend’s phones. :slight_smile: )
The earrings I have said no, but for no good reason. I just want her to be the last of her friends to get them, and am gauging how serious she is about it. Maybe when she’s a little older.

My son and daughter both have a Gameboy DS, but neither has anything more modern. Some of my son’s friends (twin brothers) gave him an old TV gaming system that they weren’t using anymore, but I have generally resisted TV console games as we only have one TV hooked to cable (there is another in our bedroom hooked to a DVD and VCR) and I don’t want to have to compete for time. They’re not allowed to watch TV after 8 pm on school nights, 9 pm on other nights, but they are usually allowed to stay up later if they are reading, my indulgence. After 8 pm they are only allowed to eat raw vegetables or fruit, no snacks or sweets.

I think chores can be an important opportunity to succeed at actually doing something, to feel important and know that you’re needed in the family. With little ones I have to be extremely specific, “Pick up all the yellow blocks please. Now pick up the red blocks.” I often pick up alongside them (just because they can put their laundry away doesn’t mean it always happens).

I hope that they’re learning how to handle messes effectively rather than being overwhelmed.

When they’re in school we’ll probably do something to celebrate good report cards. I’m not sure what, but it seems like a good opportunity to acknowledge their hard work and I like that.

Allowances are a separate thing to me. I think children ought to get a small allowance just for being part of the family.

When I was 30, my mother adopted a daughter who is now 11. I’m very interested to see how my little sweet-heart (brat :p) of a sister turns out (I love her a LOT, and she loves me a LOT). We’re being raised by the same mom (different dads), 30 years apart, and in different economic circumstances. She is being raised in town, I was raised out in the country. So she gets to do extra-curriculars, which I didn’t because of how hard it was to drive 12 miles to town twice in a day. :rolleyes: We were fairly poor; her family is not (hey, it’s 30 years later–progress in careers and income have been made.) Technology has advanced. I was thrilled to have books and a stereo. She’s got every electronic gadget I have. I had the responsibility for almost all the household chores. I think she has to clean her room.

So like I said, it’ll be interesting to see how she turns out. :wink: