My friend, Janaki, and I were out shopping for winter wear when the topic turned to how we happily spend on our children but balk at spending on ourselves. It seems like every mother we know, ourselves included, is prepared to pay horrendous amounts for things children might use a handful of times, but not nearly as much for things we’d use for years. So where does this child-centred spending come from and are we shortchanging our young by giving them everything every time?
The message I was given by my own mother, when I had Amanda, is that over-indulging the child makes for one ill-prepared in life. By pandering to their every material desire, we take away their resourcefulness and their drive to achieve things for themselves. Worst still, they never learn the lesson that some things can never be bought. Love being one of them.
Recently Steven Ko Yiu Hing, a Malaysian medical student, jumped to his death because his desire to get with the object of his affections was thwarted by a rival. His father, Dr Ko Chung Beng, a prominent dermatologist and founder of a chain of skin specialist clinics, advised other parents at his son’s wake, against spoiling their children for it might make them unable to cope with rejection.
Even where such a tragedy is avoided, spoiling a child produces an adult who is blind to everyone’s needs but their own. You’ll have a forty year old mooching off parents or one unable to find and sustain meaningful relationships with others because they are so used to having their own way all the time. Life is about making compromises and the earlier children learn that, the better.