Spoiled Rotten

Time Out

So I read this article this week (seriously click over. It is long but a must read).

We are doing a lot of things as parents that are counter-cultural in our house. I often times think I am so out of step as a parent with how other people are doing things. And I am totally cool with that. It is by design.

But then I read that article and I am pretty sure I am raising spoiled children just like everyone else around me.

I guess in my mind I thought of spoiled children as mini- Paris Hiltons. Or like the kids on Toddlers and Tiaras (although I have never actually seen that show). Or you know, other people’s children.

But then I read the article. And then I came across this great post, 10 Signs Your Child Might Be Spoiled and What To Do About It. And, guess what. My kids are spoiled, spoiled, spoiled.

I have great, wonderful, amazing kids. Truly I think my kids are awesome. But, they often times have sassy attitudes, and I do too much for them, and I say yes to too many things because it is easier than saying no, and I have to ask too many times, and they are disrespectful, and the list goes on.

I can write this off as typical behavior for a child, and it is. But I am starting to wonder if this is only because our expectations for typical behavior has gotten a little messed up.

I dunno. I am still processing it all. And my poor children are caught in the crossfires of a mother who is determined to un-spoil them. Preferably in a week. So clearly, it is not a good week to be an Anderson child!!

What do you think? Are we raising spoiled children?


  1. I read that article too. I think with having a friend that just moved to Europe, I am thinking about it more and it’s definitely all impacting me! I think not spoiling our kids is the best thing we can do for them, really.
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  2. Sally Brown says:

    I think the best line in this article is “…by working so hard to help our kids, we end up holding them back.”

  3. “Now, if Judd Apatow is to be trusted, it’s possible to close in on forty without coming of age.” This was a very scary line to read. Great and very insightful article. Thanks for sharing!
    Jean recently posted…still going strongMy Profile

    • i don’t know about you but I know WAY too many 30 year olds still living at home not knowing what to do with themselves. Including, sadly, couples.

      • I do as well, and one’s even in their 40’s which boggles my mind. Reading the comments below, and thinking more on the article, it has been a wake up call for me. Even just yesterday my kids kept asking the same question over and over (I believe to get a different answer since they didn’t like the first one). It was exhausting sticking to my guns and to not give in! But I know they need boundaries and not a wishy washy parent. You can bet that things will be changing slowly in our home. My kids are old enough to do WAY more than what they do, but I need to remember too that they’re kids and to let them have fun as well.
        Jean recently posted…still going strongMy Profile

  4. I saw you link to those over the weekend & I read both of them (or skimmed through the first one since it was so long;)). I mean honestly by those standards I would say any child living with a parent in America is spoiled. Even if we don’t see it in public, I imagine behind closed doors they are. By nature, we are spoiled & self centered – I think the key for us as parents is teaching them by example … because honestly we probably fail at that stuff too, just on a different level. I mean, moms in the carpool line every day seem to think “rules don’t apply to them” ;)

    • That is a really good point. But people have always been self centered since the fall. Why now is it translating the way it is?

      • I agree with Mandi – everyone is self-centered and always has been. Even John Smith (not the disney version, the real one) fought the laziness of English people and had the establish the rule
        of “you do not work you do not eat.” The bigger problem is that we have strayed from that rule with our kids. How many teens have jobs? How many teens are entrusted to care for their younger siblings? (how many people have bashed the Duggars for making the older kids care for ONE younger one?) Laziness.
        Annie @ Mama Dweeb recently posted…BigHeds – educational children’s book iPad appMy Profile

  5. Molly says:

    Jill, didn’t read either article (but plan on it today!) but you crawled inside my mind with this post. I have been struggling with my 5-year old in a major way and my 2-year old is not too far behind. Especially with the list you had- asking too many times to do something, disrespectful, sassy attitudes, etc.. And, I too have truly awesome kids, but I want them to stay that way and not grow into the yucky behavior any more! Would love to hear what you end up doing with your kiddos!

  6. Tiera says:

    As a mom to an only, we have worked extra hard not to raised a “spoiled only child”. The article was very well put. We had our daughter learning to do laundry and make simple meals for herself, (only for when necessary) by the age of 7. We feel that our job was to train a responsible adult that will be ready to go out into the world and not only take care of herself, but eventually her own family. If we did everything for her, how would she know how to do things for herself. By the way, we started homeschooling in 7th grade and that was as much about character building as education. I’m so glad you linked that article, I wish I could give it to many young parents that I know!

    • I love that you do this. I need you to teach me!!

      • Tiera says:

        I think you need to not be afraid to say no, to put your foot down, to possibly have your kids tell you that you are mean. It hurts at the time, but it is what is necessary. We look to the Bible for our instruction and it clearly says that if a man does not discipline his son, he hates him. We have taught our daughter this and showed her where it says that so that she can see for herself that we love her and want only the best for her, but sometimes there might be temporary pain for the best to be reached. I read your blog almost daily and really appreciate the time you put into it. God Bless you.

      • I feel the same way Jill! And I have a blog post brewing in my head right now LOL! Won’t write the book here in the comments. Just have to say – as a nation I noticed we place a much lower priority on teaching our kids home ec skills than book and athletic skills.
        Annie @ Mama Dweeb recently posted…BigHeds – educational children’s book iPad appMy Profile

  7. I love this post and I couldn’t have articulated my thoughts after these articles any better. I just… I don’t… I want to do better. I’m glad these articles are circulating and people are having good dialogue, Thanks for writing this. :)
    Erin G recently posted…Another Fan of the Friend CarsMy Profile

  8. Sigh. I struggle with this issue constantly. With my kids it is not so much behavior but not having an attitude of gratitude. I’ve been thinking about this lately, with them under my feet all summer it is more obvious we have some things to work on & talk about.
    Jenny from Mommin’ It Up recently posted…Wake up, jerk faceMy Profile

  9. I just read the 10 signs article (will read the other one later when I have more time) and what if this: my oldest child does all those things but we don’t give in. Yet we still have the fuss and a spoiled child. Then what?
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    • yep. That is where I am at too. And my other problem with older kids is I can’t quite find a punishment that works. She just doesn’t seem to care if I take stuff away (sign we have too much stuff…..)

  10. I struggle with this all the time because honestly I feel like I spoil my son but then I think that maybe it’s just that he’s a toddler and he’s still learning self control. It’s really hard to decide, especially when I’m in the middle of it.
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  11. As a teacher, I see the saying “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” in real life! Children learn by example. BE the example.
    Staci Brown recently posted…Summer MantleMy Profile

  12. Yes! Our kids are spoiled! Even though we try hard, maybe even harder than most…. My kids still do not have a clue. And making things more difficult is the fact most parents do EVERYTHING for their kids. My kids think they are abused because I make them make their own lunch everyday. They seriously think I don’t love them as much as their friends moms love their children. They can’t see long term…. But we plug along anyway in hopes that one day they see what we were trying to do. Great post… Thanks for making us think! Miss you!!!

    • Oh that is good to hear from someone further down the road. My kids are surrounded my kids with more all sorts of things than them and so it seems even worse when I ask something of them. The norm is so far out of whack!!

    • Christina – you make such a good point about your kids feeling unloved cause they are comparing you to other moms. At 14, my mom “made” me take care of my 4 younger siblings. I didn’t have much of a social life, I did almost all the house work and my 10 year old sister did much of the cooking. I thought I was abused because my friends told me I was. My SPOILED friends. And you know what? Today I am 27, happily married with 3 kids and running a successful home business. My spoiled friends? most of them are still confused about what to do with their lives and live close to home if not at home. Looking back, I thank my mom for doing what she did!
      Annie @ Mama Dweeb recently posted…BigHeds – educational children’s book iPad appMy Profile

  13. Adam Shepherd says:

    have sassy attitudes, and I do too much for them, and I say yes to too many things because it is easier than saying no, and I have to ask too many times, and they are disrespectful, and the list goes on.

    Jill this describes you as a child…oh and cries while at the top of a ski mountain that she doesn’t want to come down…THE LIST GOES ON!!!!

  14. Okay, I just read the longer article. Seriously, we were just discussing last night that maybe we were too harsh/expected too much from our kids in terms of their behavior. Me thinks that we are on the right track… ;)
    Krista recently posted…Produce for Kids (with Giveaway)My Profile

  15. Mary B says:

    I definetely think kids are more spoiled than they should be. I especially saw that after spending a week on a mission trip with middle schoolers the past 3 summers. You wouldn’t believe how many didn’t know how to clean a bathroom. I wish I was kidding.

    My kids are 10, 13 & 16 and have various chores. However, I still don’t think they do enough.

    My kids each have a chore every day (rotates water flowers, clean bathroom & breakfast/lunch kitchen clean up). This is new this summer and is working great so far.
    They also know how to pull weeds, dust, vacuum, mow the lawn, empty the dishwasher, etc. Plus during the school year they do make their own lunches.

    I haven’t attempted laundry with them yet simply due to the fact that our machine is on its last legs are requires some finessing. They do fold for me quite a bit though.

    As a parent its is hard to gage what it too much/what is not enough. But mine are at the age I really want them to have the necessary life skills when they leave the house. No one wants a college roomate who doesn’t know how to clean.

  16. abba12 says:

    My oldest is only 16 months (though she thinks she’s about 3 years old! Very precocious) so we have only two intentional behaviours right now in regards to being spoiled. One is that tantrums. dont. work. That’s it, even if I was going to give her the item she was demanding anyway, if she throws a tantrum it’s gone. The second thing is while we are out and about through the week doing a lot of things together, I ensure we have at least one, sometimes two days a week, where we are just home. Now I certainly don’t ignore her during this time, we might go for a walk, or work on some skills, but for the majority of the day I leave her to her own devices to play by herself (with some TV time set in there, and me occasionally pulling out a new toy for her). It was hard at the beginning as she wandered around whining. But now she enjoys those days and is fairly independent, coming to me for cuddles and reassurance through the day. Lest you think I am a horrible parent that ignores her, I am constantly interacting with her, and through the week spend a LOT of time one on one, in fact maybe too much. She just needs to learn I am not an unending source of entertainment.

    This form of parenting comes naturally to me because both my husband and I came from strict families that expected a lot of children. There was no slacking off, at 8 I could cook dinner if needed, and not just beans and toast but spag bol or meat and veg. At 4 or 5 my sister cleaned the bathroom properly, including (non-harsh, no bleach or anything) chemicals. We knew mum was not there to serve us, she was there to teach and supervise and guide, but everyone put into the family. I’d say us older girls did an hour of chores daily and a couple of hours on ‘cleanup saturdays’ once we were 8 or so, but even the youngest toddlers were encouraged to help, and a childs first chore was usually ‘dusting’ with a damp cloth basically as soon as they could walk, just to be involved. Lest you think our mother did nothing, she homeschooled us, and cooked most nights, and still did a lot of the housework during the years we’re talking about (mental health issues came into it later on). I strongly believe this background is why my sister was considered responsible enough to be a manager, including the person ‘in charge’ multiple days a week at her first job at 16, while many of our peers were bumbling around mcdonalds with absolutely no idea what they were doing, and no concept of taking pride in their work, constantly making mistakes and messes. Not every child is like that of course, but so many seem to be. We live in Australia so it’s not as bad here, but we’re still closer to the US than we are to europe when it comes to parenting.

    It’s funny, my husband and I were watching something on TV examining which age is the most expensive age for parents, and they said it was 17. 17?! My husband and I were both PAYING board at 17! (A percentage of our incomes, so it was only like $50 for me, but for my husband it was a good couple hundred dollars a week because he had a great job, and those couple hundred dollars was still cheaper than it would be if he moved out on his own and had to pay electricity, buy pots and pans and stuff, etc.). If I wanted something at 17 I bought it myself. Ok, even if you have a 17 year old with no income source, they are not beyond an allowance, and being expected to pay for their own wants and needs from that allowance. As for 20 and 30 somethings living at home… if they’re studying at college/uni it is a little different and I’ll cut them some slack, but if they don’t have a high study load, they better be either working, or doing a whole lot of contributing to the household to ‘pay their way’ so to speak. My husbands parents are quite grateful at the moment, as they have 4 working age children under their roof due to housing issues in my country, and inbetween the extra help and extra income it’s easier now than it was 5 years ago (BIL mows the lawn and is on call for lots of odd jobs, SIL cooks dinner regularly and does a lot of cleaning, BIL2 pays a decent amount of board due to having a full time job, and SIL2 has only just begun working as an apprentice last week so unsure about her yet). If the kids don’t want to move out at 18 I’m fine with that, but there won’t be any freeloading in this house! By the time they’re in their late 20s I would consider them a housemate, not a child, in as much as division of labour and housing costs. If I would expect a housemate to cook two meals a week and pay 1/3rd of the utilities, then that’s what I expect of the adult children. Of course I am many years away from this situation myself, but while I am happily married with children I’m also only 21, so I see most of our friends living at home, and there’s no way I would get away with what they do when I was still home! A 25 year old with a middle income full time job who dosen’t even pay board to his (retired) parents, who he lives with and who are still raising younger kids? I don’t think he even knows how to run a washing machine. He recently did the math with his budget and decided he couldn’t afford to move out… come on. We manage to live independently as a single income family, husband and wife with 1.5 children on not much more than he earns (social security works very differently here so we do recieve payments for our children, like 80% of the country recieves)

    Can I be brutally honest for a second though. Lots of parents know they’re spoiling their kids, they even know how to fix it, but when the time comes.. they just won’t do it. It hurts them too much, it’s too hard, whatever, they just won’t do it. A good example is super picky eaters. There’s a difference between genuinly not liking carrots, and refusing to eat any meat that is not processed. Someone close to me is dealing with this right now, and she knows the kids won’t starve themselves. She knows during school holidays they have to either eat what she gives them or not eat at all, and she wants them to eat real food… and yet when dinner comes she still makes them chicken nuggets and ramen before cooking herself a real meal. She just can’t bear the short term pain for herself and her children to get to the long term goal of teachig them to eat. I find this is true in so many cases. For some parents it’s easier to spoil them, it seems more loving, it’s quicker, it’s so appealing… but it won’t be when those kids are teens and young adults.

    I feel bad for parents like that because, in many ways, they’re scared to be strict because of the judgment of others, and they have no role models who have been strict to look upon. I’m not judging the mother I’ve written about above, I actually feel very sad for her that she feels stuck in that position due to many factors, and I’m sad things have gotten to this state where a parent is scared to insist a child do what they’re told. I’m very thankful for my strict upbringing, it’s given me the confidence to give my chidren the same.

    • “I’m sad things have gotten to this state where a parent is scared to insist a child do what they’re told”- this makes me sad too. I watch a lot of parents really struggle with this and they give their kids WAY too much control.

      I was raised rather strictly too and in a lot of ways we are strict compared to those around us. But a lot of what is around us is just crazy so I am not sure that is a good standard.

      All the comments about chores is really making me rethink what I think my children are capable of around the house. Update post coming :)

      • I cannot wait to read your chore post! I am going to go shopping for a chore chart right now :)
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  17. Um yes and yes… my parents and I were talking about the difference between spoiled and spoiled rotten but I agree that simply spoiled is a disservice to kids as well, now if only I could figure out how to undo what I’ve already done. I have great, polite kids but their sense of entitlement, even at 3 and 5 is overblown and that makes me a little insane. We say no, we make them earn things, have them play on their own, etc… and yet they still want more and demand more in very loud voices with great feeling. I’m with the above commenter who said that if her daughter throws a tantrum, even if she was going to give the desire thing, it’s now gone. Parenting… who knew it would be so hard ;)
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  18. Oh yes, I think most kids in America are spoiled, but I don’t think a lot of us parents are doing it on purpose! We are going to Africa in the next year and I think it will be a big wake up call to my husband and I that we really do have a ton and don’t appreciate it enough. Many kids are lacking even the basic necessities to life (ie: food, water, shelter and love!) and I try to remember that when disciplining my son and when I want to give in to bad or spoiled behavior.
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