Monday, January 23, 2012

Selfish, Spoiled and Pampered- Raising kids in the GIMME MORE generation

I spoil my kids- if you consider spoiling them loving the hell out of them, making their favorite desserts out of the blue, making sure they have a really good breakfast the morning of an exam, letting them have friends over, taking them to the doctor and dentist, putting braces on their teeth so they don't have snaggle smiles- you know all the things a parent does. I buy them stuff-  1 or 2 extravagant toys at Christmas- when I can afford them.  Cute clothes, take them to movies, again- normal stuff a parent does, or tries to do.

Let me paint a picture of the modern teen. Rather spoiled and generally obsessed with shopping for labels and brand name items. Today,fancy electronic gadgets are everywhere, and every tween and teen just HAS to have them- because of course "ALL my friends have one"  so parents, in some bizarre competition with other parents make sure they get whatever they can- and call it love. From cell phones to laptops to iPods, many youths have established themselves as walking, talking digital units who devote a good portion of their day on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and of course the incessant texting.

Not as preposterous as one might think
But now let me paint you a picture of the modern elementary school child. *See above*.  Yes- kids as young as 6 & 7 have fancy cell phones, iPads and PSP's- IN THE SECOND GRADE!!!  Ridiculous- right? 

My oldest, The 20-Something got his first cell phone at 16. In the last 5 years, I have bought him one other cell phone. Until recently, when he turned 21- and I got him an iPhone. At 21 years old.  With the promise that he will be moving out..SOON. 

My Teenzilla got her first cell phone and mini laptop at age 11.   "But mooommmm...ALL my friends have one". And I don't want her to be the one to go without. So pester power prevails, and BAM- now at 13 she has  a regular laptop and was pissed- PISSED- that I bought her 21 YEAR OLD brother an iPhone and not her!  I got her a new cellphone, it's a smart phone, it's cool and all, and best of all it was FREE. But all she needs it for is letting me know where she is and texting her friends- she does not need the latest supermegafancyawesometastic phone out there. SHE IS 13!!!  But you would think I was telling her I was cutting off her arm, because now ANOTHER friend got an Evo- and why didn't I get that phone..wah, wah, wah. 

Overall we’re all just doing our best to raise well-rounded, caring human beings aren’t we? In my opinion that means people who treasure friendship above material possessions and who don’t stress the small stuff , like cell phones, and such.

And- if we indulge their every whim at such a young age- the newest, bestest, neatest cell phone, the newest, bestest, neatest portable game system, what do they have to look forward to? If they get all this stuff at 7,8,9,10- what do they have to look forward to when they turn 13,16,18,21?? These are milestone birthdays- and telling a kiddo that they have to wait until one of them to get something  supermegafancyawesometastic - doesn't that make it more special? What do our kids have to look forward to- if we keep letting them grow up too fast?  

My kids aren't lacking- don't get me wrong.  I know what it’s like to want to give your kids everything. I struggle to keep myself from buying stuff for the kids when we are out. I want to see them happy and it’s a super feeling seeing a kid’s face light up when they get something new.  And yes- I am guilty of over compensating for time not spent. But not often- I am always broke, as Teenzilla likes to point out to me all the time. 

And what about the pressure on the kids themselves? Yeah- kids feel the pressure too...not considered good enough because of their lack of the newest gizmo.  But these are problems that don't normally arise until late middle school and high school. And that extends to everything from clothes to cars and has been going on FOREVER.  But it's  now getting to be that way as early as 1st and 2nd grade- with 10-11 years in school to go! 

I say- give them something to look forward to- yes it's hard to hear how they are being left out of a particular group at school, and yes it's hard to say no sometimes- believe me- I know! But having something to look forward to is a great thing- it's a great way to be happy. And don't we as parents really want that more than anything else for our kids?