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Monday, 19 November 2012

Are we raising spoiled brats?

We went away in a big group with our 12 year olds school friends and their families. There were 40 odd of us in total. After dinner the first night, I asked the year 6 kids to wash up. They acted like this was some unreasonable request. They mucked around flicking tea towels at each other, being silly and basically not doing the task at hand without another mother and I barking orders at them.

It was a small thing but it really bothered me, and made me cross with them all, my own son included. It wasn't until we got back, and I was looking at a list of gift requests for an orphanage that it fell into perspective. There was a 12 year old girl, asking for her donated gift to be school stationary. I knew my kids, and their friends never thought once of the money spent of books and uniforms as something to be appreciated, It was taken for granted, we just got it when needed. It wasn't a birthday or Christmas gift, but it was still a lot of money to be spent.

So too was the weekend, as we've done a few with this group. They don't see it as something special that their parents gave up their weekends to take them away with their friends, their parents spent a lot of money taking them all somewhere fun and their parents did a lot of work cooking and cleaning up after 40 people. Three times a day. They were asked to contribute to once and they accepted that task in an appalling fashion.

We do a lot of household tasks for them because it's quicker and easier to do it ourselves, and I think this is a disservice to them. We make excuses for them because of their age, but twelve is really past that age, but we've lead them to this point by using their age as an excuse up until now. It is our fault, not theirs.

We have another group weekend away and I'm going to ask that we roster the 12 year olds on washing up for the whole weekend, and let them know what is expected of them prior to going. I think they should know they are expected to contribute, and more importantly, why they are expected to contribute.

They are all good kids, but it needs to be a lesson taught, and it's our fault, the parents, if it isn't. If the kids do the washing up even once each over the course of the weekend, they will at least get an idea of what work and effort goes into creating such a fun weekend for them. They might even appreciate it, instead of assuming it just 'happens'.  I'll be thinking of a task for the 8 & 9 year olds too. As I have no intention of them getting to 12 and being in the same boat.

I don't wonder that I'm known as the 'mean mum' but I'm hoping it makes for a lovely young adult in the future...

Linking up with the lovely Jess at Essential Jess - drop by HERE to see who else is about...

29 comments:

  1. My boys take everything they get for granted I am sure. They just don't get it. Of course they are still young, I will be whipping them into shape.
    Good on you for taking a stand.

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    1. Kids don't get a lot of things because there world is all they know. It's our fault if that world is priviledged and they don't appreciate it.

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  2. I hear lots of people worrying about spoiling their children. I think that no child can be spoiled by love and attention, but can model their relationship with the material world on ours. If we are kind and generous, they are more likely to be. That's just how I see it anyway. My kids are still young, so maybe I just have no perspective yet!

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    1. I washed up for 40 people about 6 times over the course of the weekend. Don't think anyone under the age of 15 noticed any behaviour to be modelled....

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    2. That's a joke, not having a go at your comment, incase it read badly - needed a ;) in there...

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    3. Yep, modelling is important :) We all clean up after dinner here (the 5-y-o's job is to stack the dishwasher with plates and get the dust buster out and do under the table) - we explain it's part of being a family, and everyone pitching in.

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  3. I TOTALLY agree with you on this one. K has been doing chores around the house since she was 3 (when her chore was to feed the cat). We did go through a stage of having to nag her but she has got better.
    She cooks once a week and helps with dishes / kitchen when we cook. Since we started the paleo eating plan she helps prepare meals and chop up veggies / make fritattas / smoothies / salads - she really is a pleasure to have around.
    And you are right - if we didn't teach her she would never learn - it is our responsibility as parents to send them into the big bad world with the skills to be able to look after themselves and not sit there expecting someone else to cook and clean and tidy up after them.
    GREAT POST - I hope LOTS of parents read this !
    Have the best day !
    Me
    #IBOT visitor

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    1. You put me to shame. I thought I was doing that only to discover, somehow in the process, to stop the constant nagging, I was just doing it for them. It is quicker and easier if we do it for them, but it is not best for them. And as parents, our job is to do what's best for them...

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  4. Having taught 12 year olds, I think that reluctance to help out can be magnified in groups. Even with our school leaders, most only helped the minimum amount - only a couple of special kids went the extra step to make sure things were done completely

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  5. One parent did say to me it was pack mentality - to which my reply is that's just a euphemism for saying a lot of people were acting like a-holes. Doesn't excuse them. (But I am harsh and the mean mum). I think my children should be those 'special kids' you talk of. That is MY minimum standard. I would love to refuse to feed everyone for the weekend but I don't have the guts to do that.

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  6. I have noticed this a lot lately. Parents are over compensating for something and kids are become very bratty at a young age. I think that kids need to be kids and have fun but also we need to teach them life skills and one of those is responsibility. I think that it was Naomi at 7 cherubs who put up a list of tasks kids should be able to do by certain ages. It was a real eye opener of how many things we had not taught our older kids. A great post, good luck with getting them to do the washing up next time. Team #IBOT

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    1. They are all really good, kind kids with a lot of great traits, but that they thought they could have such a lovely weekend without contributing really got to me. And it's our fault (the parents) - we let it be that way. I will track down that list as I've only just started making my 12 year do things...(beyond making his bed - you can all give me a whack with the bad parent stick)

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  7. I think the fact you're at least aware of it is a great start - I think the ones who are truly spoiled brats are the ones with parents who let it slide and dont ever make their kids do anything. Maybe you could get each of them to read a letter from an orphan and pick items to send them or things todo for them? My son is 4.5 and he has to make his bed every night. He also helps with the dishwasher and always puts his dishes in the sink, I think we'll make him start feeding the fish, too. He's still at that age where he wants to help with everything and I found we were doing it because it was quicker, but his kindy said "let him help" and i can see now why! Let us know how you go on the next trip!

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  8. My kids make their beds, but only because they won't get their pocket money if they don't. The charity thing is a whole other kettle of fish - it really doesn't impact on them unless they are going without to give the other person something. That's why I liked that 20cm hair donation - the kids really had to forfit something to do good. I agree that my 4 year old seems keener to help than the older ones...I must remember not to take over when she does.

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  9. I think the roster is a great idea.
    We do end up doing things for our kids because it is just much easier and faster, but it is a disservice. I personally need to remember my lazy roots and start requesting a lot more help (I do make it a point, but could still be much better).
    via #ibot

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    1. I can't comment on your page because I'm not on fb and it's not working thru twitter. Just wanted to say we had no issues with tv but video games (even no violent ones) bring on a moody swing, and it's to do with the concentration. Maybe your son has it with tv. Keep an eye on other shows reactions...

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  10. You're never too young to help around the house. I will admit that I did my fair share of whinging and complaining every time I was asked to help out around the house but now that I am older I am so glad that my Mum made us do those things, because it not only showed us how much work she did for us, but made us more considerate people as a result.

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    1. That's the theory I'm working on - the hindsight will pay off...

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  11. Great approach. I hope the next weekend away runs like clockwork!

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    1. you will no doubt hear about it if it doesn't...

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  12. And herein lies the basis of our whole issue right now.
    Being taken for granted as a parent as well as your contribution to their upbringing is not an acceptable place to stand I feel.
    Here's hoping we can turn the tide with our first steps this week. x

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  13. I hear you on this and worry about if Miss O is growing up spoilt. I also constantly worry about the way we have chosen to raise her at the moment and if it will have long-term benefits or create issues.
    She is now 3 and I am starting to introduce chores, unfortunately we have a live-in nanny who she knows will do them for her. So basically I am educating them both on Miss O's responsibilities and putting in place some strict rules.
    This parenting gig is bloody hard work isn't it!

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    1. My cousin moved to Singapore and they were the only people without a maid because they worried that as the boys were teenagers, having a maid would do them no favours. I admire them for that, but I don't know, if money was no object, if I'd have done the same (and that's a criticism of me, not anyone else)

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  14. Lydia I think you have hit the nail on the head there! So much truth in this post.
    A friend of mine once said that our job as parents, is to work ourselves out of a job. By the time our kids are in their late teens, they should be able to actively, and happily do all the chores required to maintain a house themselves, and it's our job to teach them that.

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    1. Love that quote - might steal is (let me know her name so I can quote her properly!)

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  15. I think this is the perfect solution Lydia. By that age, there should definitely be some ownership of the tasks required to make the fun stuff happen. Not the mean Mum at all, the mum that wil be installing a sense of responsibility in them. Excellent life skills. Good luck :)

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  16. I will quote you on that, when the complaints start....;)

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  17. Thank you for this great reminder. You're completely right, it is easier to do things ourselves but no reason the kids shouldn't help out. Especially when they're little and it's fun! My 3 year old loves 'helping' in the kitchen and cooking and gardening. But I should get her to do some of the less fun stuff (and she'll probably think that's great) :)

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