Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spoiled Rotten?


Elizabeth Kolbert has written a thought-provoking piece for the New Yorker, asking "Why do kids rule the roost?".  It brings up many really good points - not just about having "well-behaved kids", which has always seemed like a short-sighted goal to me - but about ending up with young adults who lack basic life skills and self-sufficiency.

The article also mentions the differences between American kids, kids from a Peruvian Amazon tribe, and French kids.  You can probably guess the differences that anthropologists have noted.

And my kids are definitely Americans.  They expect to be tended to.  They expect to get their way eventually.  They have too much stuff.

I don't like this, and I certainly don't like having to struggle to get them to do each and every basic task that life requires (brush your teeth, take a bath, come on now, don't make me ask 20 times!).  My husband and I were talking about what we can do differently, but there is also a culture that the kids are growing up in that influences all of this - some of this is out of our individual hands.

One thing I'm doing is teaching my kids to cook.  This week, after the crazy junk-food binge they had last week while I was away and Dad was flying solo, when I went to the grocery store I asked them each to use their snack budgets on something we could make together, rather than on pre-packaged snacks.  Hypatia chose Rice Krispie Treats - it's not exactly difficult to make or really from scratch, but I think it's a good first step with a 6 year old.  And as I type this she's behind me vacuuming, and my son is up cleaning his room, so perhaps it's not all hopeless.


  1. My kids went to a Montessori preschool. They are very big into self-reliance and independence. I, as a parent, learned a lot about what kids could actually do, outside of what society only thinks they can do. It was an eye opener and I have always tried to follow that philosophy. Cooking was something we worked with early on ;-)Tidiness is still a challenge! ;-)

  2. Are there actually people that dispute that American children are the most indulged children? Just take a quick look at your kid’s bedroom. When you have everything, you’re not grateful for anything. It’s clear there is something wrong with our generation of parenting and I examine why this breeds a crew of spoiled brats here: