Why do so many grandparents declare they are going to “spoil” their grandchildren? Maybe they don’t mean it, literally. But what do they mean? Why do they say it? What is it that they do that they name it “spoiling?” Are they going to indulge them with expensive gifts? Are they going to ignore their own children’s rules and routines when they are with their grandchildren?
So what do we say to our friends who are hell-bent on “spoiling,” or “indulging” their grandchildren?
Discussions in the public spaces (i.e., print, online, You Tube, etc.) state that many young people today are spoiled, not used to hard work, not willing to work hard, expect to be catered to, not willing to spend the time and effort to learn skills, etc., etc. (Not the first generation to be called “lazy!”)
I’d say that the world is getting tougher and tougher for young people as time goes by. In this country, as in many others, wealth is owned by a few, middle-class dreams of life-long careers/owning a home/“getting ahead” are out of reach. Many young people are so discouraged by their prospects of ever affording college or paying off student loans, obtaining a good-paying and satisfying job, or having “their own place,” they may have an attitude or give up.
What do you wish for your grandchildren as they grow? To be successful, children and young people need to learn how to fit in in response to the demands of the world around them in order to be successful. Their strength and confidence will also be a key to success–even the ability to question authority. They also need to be able to put other’s needs first at times in order to have successful relationships or be part of a team at work.
I don’t think “spoiling” is good in the long run. Love and attention are good, fun activities together are good, enjoying one-on-one time with grandma or grandpa is good, listening with respect and supporting them as they grow are good. But over-indulging is not good. Undermining the parents is not good–their jobs are hard enough.
I would recommend:
- Support the parents and their wishes;
- Refresh your knowledge on children’s ages and stages, so that you can respond appropriately to behavior (i.e., don’t give a lot of attention to age-appropriate behavior that you don’t like, but know when there may be a behavior problem that needs to be addressed);
- Enjoy the children, listen with respect, love and support them;
- Accentuate the positive and learn from them;
- Provide interesting activities, fun learning activiites, activities that their parents may not have time or resources for;
- Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and your history. (How many people do they know who experienced life before electricity and running water, who attended a one-room school, who watched while grandma cooked and baked on a wood stove, who had to create our own amusement for hours on end? Our generations will pass on, and the lessons we learned will be lost.(Thanks to my granddaughter, who caught my omissions and corrected my spelling!)