“The responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings is the biggest job one can embark on”- Maria Shriver (bestselling author)
I think I speak for a lot of parents when I say that being a parent is a wonderful journey packed with numerous responsibilities, adjustments, flexibilities, inconveniences and utmost efforts to have a happy, healthy and safe child. This is what I recognize from what my parents would do for me.
As a child I felt loved by my parents when I saw them going an extra mile to keep me at peace- taking an extra step to keep me smiling, buying an extra bar of chocolate when I did well at school, feeding me when I studied for my tests, not grounding me when I crashed the family scooter into our neighbor’s fence, or almost agreeing to get me a pet dog though the government quarters that we lived in were too tiny to even pet a grasshopper!
But how could they say ‘No’?
Having everything at my disposition did make me feel great but would that have an impact on me later? I wouldn’t have thought this through if I hadn’t experienced my nephew’s tantrums right when my mom asked him to sit on the chair and finish his food before he could watch TV, or my little niece asking her father to instantly give her the most expensive watch in the middle of a vegetable market! Or seen my neighbor of 8 years being gifted an i-phone because of an ‘A’ on a test.
Do you recall your mom or dad feeding you while you watched TV, or got you an extra pair of clothes over your brother? Did you have that special moment when you entered your room disappointed that you’d have to clean it but were pleasantly surprised because things were already neatly kept in their place? Did you feel content when you were allowed to talk on the phone for more than two hours with your friend after a single frown developed on your eyebrows or you made that famous ‘puppy face’?
An imminent psychiatrist, Alfred Adler says “there are several terms in common usage that describe pampering. Sometimes it is called spoiling, sometimes it’s being overindulged. The psychological terminology is “over-gratification”. Whatever we call it, the end result is usually the same: the erosion of one’s ability to link up cause and effect”
The Cambridge dictionary defines ‘pamper’ as a verb that means ‘to give someone special treatment, making that person as comfortable as possible and giving them whatever they want’ .
However, the word has a subjective meaning, because for me ‘FEELING’ pampered would be different than what it would be for you.
But what exactly would generate that feeling? That is something to think about!
For parents today, ‘gentle parenting’(not saying No to a child’s demands) is a floating idea. Pampering comes as providing the child exactly what he/she wants with an easy access to the same. But what appears to me as missing is endowing children with the responsibility to handle what they have been given.
This means providing extra care or going beyond one’s capacity or going out of the way to provide the child what he/she wants immediately, irrespective of what the want is. This may lead to a child getting habituated to his environment giving him/her everything without having to work towards it. The child wants an expensive phone- yes he is given one, a whole new cupboard of clothes- yes, unlimited game players and CDs- yes, wants to take the car out at any given time- yes, had a fight with someone- you do not rationalize and take his side inevitably! Do you get him/her a new reward each time he/she does something good?
Will the child be able to handle life in the future if it isn’t as privileged as the one he/she is leading right now? What if immediate gratification in other circumstances is not always possible, and makes him or her feel like a failure? Will the child be able to take responsibility of his actions once he leaves the protected and sheltered environment of her/his home?
And the final question remains – where to draw the line between love and care versus pampering?
A few practical solutions can be delegating responsibilities at home! Let’s start by taking small steps. “You’re in charge of your homework, you’re responsible for your plate in the sink, you have to decide if your room looks better clean or messy, when you can’t find something that is yours, it’s upon you to think of a plan!”