Love That Smothers: How Not to Raise Entitled Children

A relative of mine died at the ripe old age of 84. The youngest of many children, she, like Peter Pan, was a girl who never grew up. Sandwiched between her well-meaning older sister and her versatile yet misdirected husband, she grew to her ripe old age, never venturing beyond her comfort zone.

Recently, a mother who came to ‘cook’ and ‘take care’ of her 37 year old son suffered a fatal heart attack and the son was left floundering. While the death is an unfortunate one, what was not was the inability of a grown up person, to fend for himself.

We as a race, pride in ‘doing our best’ for our loved ones to the point of cloistering them. In our quest to ‘be there for them’, we end up doing a disservice to them, thus, affecting their quality of life. Our misplaced ‘love’ proves to be our undoing.

Sapna Anup, a trained counsellor and a mother of two expresses it beautifully when she says, “Anything in excess is poison. Any relationships, be it with your parents, spouse, children or friends all require your love and attention but an overdose can stifle it!” She signs off by drawing an allegory,

Nothing grows under a banyan tree, in the same way our all-consuming love should not hinder the growth of our loved ones.

Unfortunately, we desist from giving chores to our children fearing that it would eat into their academics. We fear telling our loved ones about finances fearing that it would be inappropriate. We are afraid to let our parents live an independent life for fear of ‘what others may say.’ Above all, most of us particularly women feel important and valued when we are the ‘fulcrum’ around which the household runs.

So what should we do to get our kids to grow up being responsible and be able to take care of themselves when things don’t go their way?

Also Read: Parenting 101: How Do We Raise a Non Violent Child

Enable by Allotting Chores

Yes, your precious child is very capable of picking up the plate and cleaning it.

Sunday’s menu was fixed before my children flew home. It was the day for baby potatoes. “Whatever you peel is yours,” was my standing instruction. Both my daughter and son vied with one another for peeling the same. The quantity of potatoes increased in direct proportion to their age, but the menu remained unchanged as there was too much history associated with it.

‘Jack of all trades and master of none’ is the term used to describe children today, a tad harsh I think, as they rush from one activity to another.

But to give an impression that a good home runs by waving a magic wand, is a definite disservice to them and to their future adulthood.

Doing chores around the house brings with it a sense of fulfilment. It could be making your own bed, washing your lingerie, laying and clearing of the table or doing a bit of grocery shopping or ordering the same on-line. There need to be a belief that no age is too young for chores. Besides, a sense of accomplishment, it raises their confidence level and makes them feel important besides enabling them with requisite life skills.

Engage by Inclusion and Communication

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“Not a day goes by without a packet being delivered at home for my 21 year old,” rued a mother. “The expenses are mounting and her wardrobe is groaning but I am unable to put a stop to the same.”

To my query on speaking to her, she whispered, “I am afraid to.”

That reminded me of a saying, We Don’t Spoil Our Children Anymore — We Entitle Them. There are still homes where grown up children are not expected to pitch in with finances as parents feel delicate to broach the topic. As a result, the money earned by the youngsters is theirs to do as they deem fit.

Maya Sadasivan, a single mother says,

"My daughter at 5, was fascinated by my dad’s ritual of writing day’s account and counting money in his purse. She would sit with him, and dad would ask her seriously, “ Apupa cannot remember where Rs 10 went?” and then both of them would feel very good about discovering the errant 10/- Dinner would be had only after this important, purposeful activity was completed."

“This little ritual helped me six years later when my daughter and I moved to Maldives. I found I was less systematic about expenses and my daughter just naturally continued what she did with her grandfather. By the time she was 14 she was planning our treats, celebrations, gifts for people back home, little surprises for me!,” says Maya.

On how this helped her daughter as she left the coop? “When she applied to Europe for her higher studies, I didn't have to apprise her of the feasibility and viability - she knew,” says Maya with pride.

Also Read: Parenting 101: How to Raise a Successful Child

Empower by Raising Limits

Yes, you’ll be surprised to know what all your child is capable of doing. Once you stop smothering them. 

Having and delineating healthy boundaries is what is needed to empower a person to raise their limits. Too much kindness only stifles. We need to move on from limiting them and allow them to grow and yet, keeping the communication channels open.

To sum up, we need to be convinced as adults that love is not something we feel, it is something we do.

(Chandrika R Krishnan is a freelance writer and a freelance Behavioral skills Facilitator with 160 odd articles, poems and short stories to her credit. She also conducts a story telling and reading club for underprivileged children and volunteers at a local hospital. For a few of her published articles visit https://chandrikarkrishnan.wordpress.com/ She can be reached at chandrika1306@gmail.com)

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