Monday, June 8, 2009

Spoiled Children--WHY?

Belle graduated from pre-school today. I am extremely proud of her for this accomplishment and thoroughly enjoyed the songs her class sang as well as the presentation of diplomas. It was very cute.

I have to mention that I felt, as always, a little out of place. I think I'm the only mother that works a full-time job, so I'm not part of the coterie of mothers. Belle's babysitter, one of the kindest and most dedicated human beings on earth, drops her off and picks her up. She is a lot more a part of the school world than I am. I don't like social situations where I don't know people well anyway, so putting that together with my neurosis that these people are looking at me and thinking, "Yeah, she's having a babysitter raise her kid because she works a full-time job" and they're probably not even thinking that at all, but it just makes me incredibly anxious. But anyway, that's a story for another day.

After the ceremony, families were invited to a local park to eat lunch and give the kids a chance to play together. This was where things headed south quickly.

I expect my children to be respectful, kind, and polite at all times. This has been an expectation since they were babies, and both Belle and Addie always make me proud with their behavior in public. Of course, both Belle and Addie have been carried kicking and screaming out of Chuck E. Cheese's and the play area at the mall because they did not want to leave. Both learned that behavior like that meant they didn't get to go back for a long time and, when they did, they needed to follow the rules. To me, it doesn't seem that complicated. You make sure your kids know the rules, you enforce them, you help you kids process any behavior issues, and you give logical consequences when necessary (as in, if Belle throws a ball at her sister, she loses the ball; if Addie is on MySpace when she's supposed to be doing her homework, she loses her internet).

I kept pretty close to Belle as she moved from slide to swing to seesaw; she's five, after all, and when there are thirty or forty kids running around, I don't think too much supervision is possible. This is especially true since a lot of parents seemed to think it was okay to let their children run amok while they stood around talking with each other a fair distance away, completely oblivious to what their children were doing.

The prime example I can think of is the little girl who held up the line at the slide by climbing up the other side of the stairs and standing on the ladder, refusing to move. I didn't feel like it was my place to say anything, and neither of the other two parents standing by the slide with a line of ten kids being held up by this one kid did either, evidently. Finally, a kid went and got "Sherry"'s mother, who came reluctantly.

Mother: Sherry, get down from there. The other kids can't get up.
Sherry: So?
Mother: There is a big line of kids waiting, and they can't move because you won't get down.
Sherry: So?
Mother: You need to get down from there right now!
Sherry: (with big huff better suited to an adolescent than a preschooler) Fiiiiiiine!
(At this point, Sherry starts swinging around one of the legs of the slide)
Mother: Sherry, get off the slide.
Sherry: You said not to climb on the ladder.
Mother: You've lost the privilege of going on the slide. Find something else to do.
Sherry: I want to go on the slide.
Mother: Fine. But make sure you are behaving yourself.
Sherry: Oh, I will.
(Mother goes back to social gathering; Sherry cuts the next kid in line and lays flat on the slide.)

When Belle finally got to the ladder of the slide, I told her that we'd be leaving after she went down the slide. She said, "Okay, Mommy." She came down the slide. She took my hand, and we walked together to the picnic table to get the remains of her lunch and to thank her teachers again. We talked about how we knew by the shape of leaves on one tree that it was a maple and by the white bark of another that it was a birch tree. She held my hand as we approached the parking lot. She thanked me for taking her to the park.

It's not like I think my children are perfect. They're not. It's just that I was overcome by how many spoiled children (Sherry was the worst, but she wasn't the only kid with issues like line-cutting, sand-kicking, and name-calling) there are in the world--and the correlation between misbehaving children and parents who were caught up in their own endeavors.

Perhaps it's just because it's a real treat for me to be able to spend a day with Belle, but I don't understand how people would rather spend time socializing with their backs turned than enjoy their children. It's not like I'm anti-social, nor do I think people should hover around their kids obsessively, but it seems like there's a happy medium. When it's children who are in the middle, shouldn't parents be willing to tilt the medium in a child's favor?


  1. Ooh, I'm with you on this! I am an adamant (sp?) "mean" mom. My children will behave in public places and they will always be polite no matter what. The only thing I would've done differently (maybe it's the children's theater director in me) I would've told Sherry to get off and find her mother. But, as a mother w/6 kids I can't see every single one all the time... I'm actually grateful when another mother steps in and stops my child from doing something wrong, especially if they're right there. So... LOL! I've probably made a few moms mad... but I always expect the other kids around me to behave just like mine and I make them. LOL! I figure if the mom's don't like it, they should be watching their kids.

    Great post! And I'm so glad I can catch up with you again! Jenni

  2. GUHHHH. I hate spoiled children. Hate them, hate them, hate them. I have no room to speak since I have no children, but I think I turned out pretty well (hopefully?). My mom's friend has these kids that are just flat out rotten, and I can't stand them. As children, they'd cry and whine every time they didn't get their way, and their mom usually took their side when we brought anything up. Well, now the kids are older, and they are super dramatic and "hate" their mom for "invading their privacy, ruining their lives" etc. Here is what I have to say: you reap what you sow and when you sow rotten kids, you reap rotten teenagers. Or rotten-ER teenagers, I suppose. :-)

  3. It's not something I understand either. Parents need to be aware of what their kidlets are up to. :D

  4. I once saw a child hit another child, who began to cry. The mother of the hitter told the mother of the hittee that her kid was being a brat.

    Basically, she said the hittee should 'suck it up'. I'm sure the hitter became a wonderful adult. *snort*

  5. The sad thing is, I totally see the results of parenting like this in my high school classroom. Don't ever feel bad about how you raise your kids. You're doing wonderfully. Your children will excel and earn respect. Those little brats will become the children teachers are constantly having to "talk" about. They aren't heading anywhere good. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true. THose parents are doing irreparable damage, and are, literally, training bratty, disrespectful behavior.

  6. I'm sorry you felt that way about you being a full-time working mom. I'm a stay-at-home mom and one of the little girls at Matthew's pre-K was brought in a lot by her babysitter. I promise, I only have a deep respect for moms who balance working with mommyhood. My mom worked tons (she was a single mom).
    Grrrr...spoiled children. Matthew never whined until he went to pre-k and picked it up from a little girl there. I'm still trying to undo that now. Sorry about the spoiled girl. You're a nicer mommy than me. I would've moved her and told her that if she couldn't play nicely then we'd have to go talk to her mommy. LOL!
    You sound like you're very practical and are doing a great job with your kids. ;-) I hope I can do so well with mine.

  7. I couldn't agree with you more. It seems as though you are very aware about how your children are and how other children are. This awareness makes it very apparent that your children will carry the virtue of respect with themselves for the rest of their lives.

    I'm not a mother, but I have a hard time tolerating spoiled children. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I almost feel as though the problem is becoming worse as time goes on. Spoiled children grow into socially dysfunctional adults.

  8. Oh, man, spoiled children are a bugger, that's for sure. I know a girl that is the baby in her family - she's eleven had has no excuse for her behaviors. She practically runs the house, gets whatever she wants, yells and hits her brother and sisters, and nothing is ever done! Mean while, the two older kids are breaking their backs just to make money to do things, such as going to college or paying for a car. The eleven year old was allowed to kick her older brother out of his [bigger] room and got a new computer for no reason.

    I think the state of a child's attitude is a direct reflection of a parent - why would you want your child to act that?

    Anyways, you're an amazing mommy! Working and still making time for your girls and so nice! You're setting a great example for your little ones.

  9. After my divorce I went to counseling because I had a lot of anxiety about running into friends of my ex, my ex and his mistress etc. And what I quickly learned was people don't think about you or talk about as much as you think they do. After I got that ingrained in my head I don't worry too much about what other people think about me.

    As far as the spoiled child, I agree there are some bratty kids out there and parents at the park that are interested more in the social aspect of the park then of spending time with their child, but I have to wonder, if they are stay at home moms and the adult interaction at the park is the only adult interaction they have?? I like to cut people some slack, I really don't know what's going on in their life outside of what I see at that given moment and maybe the kid at the grocery store is just having a really temper tantrum type of day and the mother is at her wits end which I imagine can happen to the best of moms.

  10. This says it all: "...the correlation between misbehaving children and parents who were caught up in their own endeavors."

  11. It sounds like your doing an excellent job with your children Klo. Just keep doing what you're doing and don't worry what other people think.

    I'll have to agree with Moonlight Dancer though. I've been in the world long enough to know that some parents aren't as lucky as others when it comes to their children's behavior. Some of the best behaved children will have their moments, and some will misbehave no matter how much they are disciplined. Also there may be problems at home that will cause rebellion in children as well. Two of the biggest problems are when the parents are divorced and also when the parents disagree with each other and others on the discipline of their children.

  12. Parents who don't parent their children are one of my biggest pet peeves. When we were camping this weekend, one boy walked through our campsite FOUR times. I mean, I know we don't OWN the site, but geez! If MY kids did that even once, they'd be spoken to. It sounds like you're doing a great job. Definitely cherish those moments you get with your kids because they grow up way too fast. :(

  13. AMEN, sister!!!! I am SO with you on every word you wrote!!!!!!!

  14. Oh I can't believe how many parents just let their kids run while and refuse to parent.

    I love when the parents stand on the edge of the playground and shout at there kids to behave because they don't want to walk over and actually handle the situation. I'm always amazed!

  15. It's funny. I have no problem stepping in at the park and monitoring the kids, while the rest of the parents stand around and chat on their cell phones or with each other. Since I'm an older mom, I'm usually the oldest one there too. The kids seem to like it to and like having the attention. So far, the bratty ones have minded me, because they just wanted attention. I probably would have told the little girl to come down, and if she refused, would have playfully found a way to get her to come down. Like go down the slide myself. :)

  16. To be honest, I was a much more patient parent when I worked outside the home. I enjoyed my children so much more. As to your situation, I understand going to a park and wanting to spend time speaking with other adults. There were days when my husband was the only adult I spoke to and its depressing as hell. However, that doesn't mean a parent ignores their child's behavior, as you said, there should be a happy medium. And I could bet Sherry is just as obnoxious at home. I don't believe in a democracy when it comes to parenting. If my kids misbehave, there is no negotiating. Its sad that when these kids go on to elementary school, no one is going to want them over for a playdate. I know I have said no after observing bratty behavior.

  17. Spoiled kids are awful. I definitely agree.


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