Spoiling and Ruining
Summer vacation is just two blinks away. It seems that family issues with children seem to peak at the summer vacation mark.
Recently I read an interesting article on how to ruin a child’s life. I wanted to see how well I did. I read the article and thought I’d use some of the concepts to share how I was successful. This is a little tongue in cheek. I don’t know that my children ever really SAID I was ruining their life. I’m certain they THOUGHT I was. Now that they are adults, they recount certain events and tell me how they disliked some things. They look back on the event realizing our choice was the right thing to do.
So, here we go: I didn’t believe in entertaining my children. Oh. My. Goodness. I admit it! I made them play together or alone. They didn’t get devices to distract them. They got a box of dress up clothes (purchased from my husband’s grandmother’s household sale: $1.00 for a box of hats his grandparents actually wore.) We had some homemade capes and vests, too. We have a pretty large yard with neighbors who were fussy about noise, so they learned to play ‘quietly’ even outside…they couldn’t yell and scream to disturb the neighborhood. There were lots of different kinds of balls: soccer balls, tennis balls, baseballs, whiffle balls, basketballs, and volleyballs. They were pretty creative between the balls, the capes, and the treehouse, and the bicycles. They did whine and object to the ‘no video games’ until they were in college and saw what video games had done to roommates. Now, they are glad they were so deprived.
We weren’t keen on ‘participation’ trophies. We wanted the cold hard reality of some win, some don’t to come home. We have a few awards but we focused on ‘what did you learn?’ rather than ‘what did you get?’ I remember some close tournament loses and how instrumental they were in developing character. We focused on how everyone who plays a sport wins because of all they are learning…that’s the ‘participation award’. My children didn’t even CARE about the ribbons that were given at the 4H fair. (It was almost disappointing to me when they were recognized and it didn’t mean much.)
We insisted on doing the ‘right’ thing whether they wanted to or not. Case in point (this just came up in a recent discussion with one of the children). David had an aunt in a nursing home. We would attend a family event in the same town and I would insist we leave the event at least thirty minutes before we needed to head home, so we could stop at the nursing home and see Aunt Connie. She had no children and seeing nieces, nephews, and their offspring was THEE highlight of her holidays. The children went reluctantly. They gave hugs and kisses reluctantly. They now see that it was the RIGHT thing to do. Sometimes, children are guided by how they feel rather than learning that feelings are important but not always the guiding force in life. There must be a balance with using feelings as a guidepost and knowing what the right thing is.
Devotions. Are they completely absent or sometimes present? Sunday school teachers are wonderful. They should be the frosting on the cake, so to speak. Because, most of the spiritual truth in the lives of children should be taught and observed at home. Not just the stories of the Bible, but the applications of faith, trust, hope, love. The stories are a springboard for teaching the lesson. However you do it: after dinner lessons; conversations through the day; teachable moments; at bedtime; doing personal devotions when your children can observe. It’s all good. Any combination of the above is good. Absence, not so much.
Children before spouses. This might be one of the most important issues in marriage. We wanted children. We wanted them to grow up and become independent adults, leaving our nest when they were adults. So, our marriage outlasts our time with dependent children. Putting children before spouses makes them believe everything in life revolves around them. It isn’t true and it becomes a huge disappointment, a difficult thing to ‘unlearn’. Spouses come first. It establishes a good model for their future marriages.
Were we always successful? No. You won’t be either. But, these five elements delivered in the wrong way CAN ruin a child’s life. So, think about how to handle each of the five: how to ‘entertain’ your child; winning by participating; living by ‘feelings’; putting the children first; and, spiritual training.
It can make all the difference in the world because these issues are the framework for the rest of your child’s life.