HOW TO SPOIL YOUR CHILDREN
[and how not to]
It seems to be in thing today to have spoilt children. I was a strict old-fashioned father, but looking around, I have realized that in today’s world, where materialistic desires overshadow traditional values, my ascetic style of parenting is hopelessly outmoded and distinctly passé. It’s too late for me to change now, so let me pontificate a bit on what I did not do.
Apart from the conventional vices like drinking, smoking, drugs, gambling etc, all types of new and novel temptations and addictions like Internet, Gaming, TV, sex, compulsive spending and shopping, indulging in wild reckless behaviour, breaking the law and criminal thrills are on the rise and indeed becoming status symbols in some sections of society. There is plenty of choice available for those who want to “live it up”. For children in today’s consumerist society there is no place for concepts of thrift and frugality and conspicuous consumption and expensive lifestyles are more important. Pamper your kids, pander to all their whims and fancies and they will love you; and, of course, in the long run they will ruin their own lives and cause you distress.
If you want to spoil your children remember there are four factors or resources that help develop and nurture bad habits, addictions and anti-social behaviour: TIME, INCLINATION, OPPORTUNITY, MONEY.
TIME: One must have time to indulge in whatever one’s pursuits, good or bad. So, if you want to spoil your children, don’t burden them with too many “mundane” things like studies, sports, hobbies etc so that they have plenty of leisure time to live it up and pursue their temptations to their heart’s content.
INCLINATION: This depends on your sense of values, home and family atmosphere, social environment, religious and cultural taboos, peer pressure, influence of school and friends. Are you inculcating the right values in your kids by your own actions?
I’ll give a real life example. My friend’s son, age 15, lost his expensive mobile cell-phone forgetting it in a taxi due to his own carelessness and negligence. Instead of admonishing him, my friend bought him the latest, even more expensive and fancy cell-phone. Obviously the boy had no remorse, guilt or regret at losing the expensive gadget, and instead of feeling contrite and responsible, displayed a “couldn’t care” attitude. Can one even expect such actions of parents to inculcate the correct values of thrift, frugality and responsibility in their children? If you drink, smoke, and party in front of your children, won’t they be inclined to do the same? How about your friends, your kids’ friends, their behaviour, and the general atmosphere and culture around? What are your own values? If you’re going to “live it up”, flaunt your lifestyle, be corrupt and dishonest, your kids will be inclined to do so too!
OPPORTUNITY: You have the Time, you have the Inclination, but do you have the opportunity to do what you want to do? Suppose you want to drink, but there is prohibition in force? Or religious, social, cultural taboos which do not give you the opportunity to drink? Opportunity to indulge in an activity is governed by external circumstances, rules and regulations, which either inhibits or makes it conducive for you to do what you want. Enforcement of restrictions like No-Smoking Zones, Prohibition, No Entry into Bars and Pubs for Kids inhibit opportunity. Or do you want to give your kids a laissez faire opportunity to do what they want?
MONEY: If you want to spoil your children make sure you give them plenty of money to splurge and to do as they please. “Vices” and profligate lifestyles are expensive, you know? Give them the latest gadgets and gizmos, cars and bikes, pander to all their whims and fancies, and never ask them to account for their extravagant spending. You’ve open-mindedly given your kids the time, the inclination, and the opportunity, but finally it’s the money that matters! It’s money that helps them sustain their vices and habits.
So go ahead, spoil your kids if you want to; but if you don’t want to, you know what to do, don’t you? Just remember the four key factors – Monitor their Time, give them the proper Inclination in life, restrict their Opportunity for undesirable activities, and, last but not the least, keep a tight leash on their Money.