Parents are generally driven by a natural instinct to love, nurture, and provide for their offspring. Our greatest desire is to give them everything we ever had, or, never had, and more. The danger is that whilst we are deriving pleasure from indulging them, we may actually be spoiling them and interfering with their development thus diminishing their own sense of accomplishment.
One dictionary definition describes spoiling someone as to “overindulge so as to cause to demand or expect too much.” “a spoilt child” – is described as having the character or disposition harmed by pampering or over-solicitous attention.
Interestingly, over 2,000 years ago, the famous Greek philosopher Socrates, made this observation about children of his time. “Children now love luxury; they show disrespect for elders and love to chatter in place of exercise, they no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs and tyrannize their teachers.” Doesn’t this sound familiar today?
Many children, particularly young adults are living way above their means. This is not obvious when they are still living at home with a roof over their heads but when they move out, they are often tempted to continue to live an extravagant lifestyle,desperate to acquire possessions they cannot really afford. Such expensive purchases, such as first class travel for a child that has never earned, can be introducing a lifestyle of over-indulgence and debt.
A young adult that sees their parents as a personal bank, and feels no reciprocal responsibility whatsoever, may find it hard to contribute to society. One may be creating adults that feel no obligation to anyone; the implications of this for society,are far reaching.
Are you giving in to your child’s every whim? Some of the consequences of over-indulging children are discussed below.
In a world driven by naira and dollars, easy money, can slowly make children lack the necessary motivation and drive most people need to achieve their goals. In general, it is human nature to take the path of least resistance to achieve goals. When children are deprived of the opportunity to be self reliant, they develop a sense of entitlement that shields them from the need for sheer hard work and motivation. Sadly, they may never reach their full potential, if they constantly have their parents’ largesse at their disposal, as the loss of personal self-sufficiency comes from never having to take care of your own basic needs.
“Easy come, easy go”. We often hear of stories of those who acquire sudden wealth and just as suddenly spend or lose it all. It is psychologically a lot easier to spend money that suddenly arrives on your doorstep than to spend money you have had to work hard to earn.
Children often identify their self worth with the approval of their peers, which could be linked to how many toys they have, or how expensive their clothes are. Parents
must show their children that their true value lies in their inner qualities – their kindness, creativity, compassion, rather than for their looks, performance andpossessions. Unfortunately, the materialistic society that is endemic in Nigeria, fosters attaching self-worth and other peoples’ approval for things such as a fancycar or a house or clothes.
The 21 or 22 year old living beyond their means may not be mature enough to realize the challenges they will face 10 years down the road; They may never have to make ends meet or save up to be able to buy something they value, be it a holiday, or a car. This could leave them financially dependent on their parents in adulthood, when they deserve to be catering for retirement. Children could become victims of paralysing debt with no idea of how to save or budget. On the more sinister side, they can become financially irresponsible and out of desperation, be tempted to maintain a certain lifestyle, without any scruples.
Instead of giving them too much, encourage children to give of themselves to others. You can provide opportunities for them to be caring, giving human beings.Young children can donate their outgrown toys, books and clothes whilst older children and young adults can do volunteer work giving of their time and talent. You want them to keep things in perspective and strive to help those who may be less fortunate. This helps them to better appreciate what they have.
“Children will do what you do, not what you say.” Actions do speak louder than words, so if we set a good example and show restraint and demonstrate the importance of hard work and effort in earning a living, it will impact on our children.If our lifestyle displays obscene extravagance, this also impacts on our children in more ways than we can imagine.
Bringing up children to understand the value of money and of being self-sufficient as they grow from childhood to adulthood is a challenging but rewarding process. If we want our children to grow up to be financially responsible adults, we must teach them to understand the value of money and how to handle it from an early age. They need to understand and practise spending, saving, banking and investing.Teach them that money saved and invested today can create more for tomorrow.
One of the most precious gifts you can give your children is the true independence they gain when they learn to earn a living. When they leave home, you can be confident that you have raised a child that can step out into the world to fend for themselves.