We don’t get too worked up about a little mess at our house
My friend Emily over at The Motherhood recently asked me to co-host an online discussion about how to “unspoil” your child. Due to a scheduling conflict, I couldn’t participate, which was disappointing for me. I find spoiling kids to be a particularly annoying habit of many parents.
I started thinking about how kids are spoiled, other than in the usual fashion of parents allowing them to have too much crap.
Two situations came to mind:
1) Serving them hand and foot
I know a mom who has two children, ages thirteen and eleven. She has been at home for most of those years raising the children and obsessively cleaning her house. Because she is both a control and neat freak, she has all but banned the kids from going into the kitchen. Children in the kitchen means there is risk of a mess being created. Sadly, what this has created is much worse. If her children want something from the kitchen, she jumps up and fetches it for them. Imagine an eleven-year-old child not getting himself a glass of milk. If my five-year-old dares ask me to get her a glass of milk, I inquire if her legs are painted on. So, I say it’s time to worry less about mess-making and more about creating couch-dwelling, order-barking tweens.
2) Paying them for being a part of the family
I’m not at the stage yet where I have kids old enough to babysit younger siblings, but I suspect when the time comes, I won’t pay them to do it. It just rubs me the wrong way – shouldn’t we take care of each other, not for money, but because that’s what families do? For the same reason, I don’t pay children for doing household chores. Maybe when I start getting a pay cheque for making dinner, the kids can start getting on for clearing the table. Until then, they’ll do it because they are a part of a family community where everyone is expected to contribute.
So let them mess up your kitchen. Then don’t pay them to clean it up.