Thursday, January 02, 2014

First World Problems, Indeed!!


Yesterday, while doing my daily perusing on Facebook, I came across this very interesting Article on Raising Whiny Kids.  And it totally gave me the idea for today's blog post.

While reading the words in that article, I started to evaluate my take on how I raise my kids and the "First World Problems" I'm instilling in to them.

Like the author of the article, I have bestowed on my children a life much grander and easier than what my own childhood was like.  Don't get me wrong, I had a good childhood, but what I had was earned not expected.  And, I often thought my life was totally unfair.  I shared a bedroom, I was not allowed to spend all day and night in that room, phone calls were limited to 15 minutes, TV came AFTER homework and chores were done, I had chores, I could only see friends on weekends, and if I had something to complain about I could take it up with the head honchos who would listen to me plead my case...and then offer a verdict of something to actually whine about.  And by that, I don't mean a butt whooping, I mean more chores less luxuries, and a little taste of how bad my life could be.

What I considered a "tough life" was a life full of first world problems.  

But compared to my kids' lives?  HUH!

My kids all, now, have their own bedrooms.  Something that's come about with the move to our new house.  Their rooms are all decent size, and are equipped with their own TVs, cable boxes, DVD players, and gaming consoles.  And because their rooms are so amazingly awesome, I hardly see them.  Except Jelly.  She insists on making the living room her playroom regardless of how much we try and convince her that her bedroom is supposed to be where she plays with all of her toys.

When my kids do decide to emerge from their rooms, they have headphones in ears, cellphones or tablets in hand, and trying to have a conversation is a waste of time.  There's only so many times I will raise my voice to get their attention before I give up.

Mealtimes is the only time I ban any form of electronic device, but the entire meal is usually accompanied with music provided by the humming of the vibrate on the cell phones that are all out of hand's way until the meal is over.

Punishment in my house comes from taking away said electronic devices.  It's not worth grounding my kids or spanking them or sending them to their room.  The only way to get my point across is to take away their connection to cyber world.  And believe me, it works.  Within one day of no cellphones or computers, my backside is getting the licking of it's life!  Begs and pleads and cleaning comes from the kids who just can't LIVE without those devices.

And chores? Please.  What chores?  Occasionally, my kids will load or unload the dishwasher.  They might sweep the floor or wipe off the table after dinner.  Every now and then a full trash bag might get taken out. They may even be really nice to me and dust or vacuum the rugs in the living room.

There's no easy way to say it.  My kids are spoiled.

But, don't you dare say that to them.  I know that Peanut, especially, gets EXTREMELY hurt if she's called spoiled.

But even though my kids are extremely spoiled, and are living the easy life... why is it that I never get temper tantrums or disrespectful behavior?  Why is it that they are caring and giving and loving?  How are they still so grateful for the stuff they have, and never expect handouts?

All the statistics say that spoiled children are rotten.  I don't know how many times a day I can read a meme or news article about how we're ruining our kids by making life so easy on them.  How they are growing up with no sense of responsibility or care, and blame everyone else for failing grades, bad attitudes, and "me-me" mentalities.  

How did I end up with a 13 year old that worries WAY too much about other people?  She is constantly worrying about what she can do and how she can help others.  She disappears in to her sister's bedroom and cleans and organizes and makes sure her sister's room is spotless.  She showers and picks out her sister's clothes, without being asked.  She has her head in a book just as often as her head is stuck to her cellphone.  She frets constantly about her grades, activities she can participate in, and how her choices will affect her future.  She shares all aspects of her life with me.  She is constantly sharing her thoughts and feelings, and enjoys a day out with just the two of us as often as we can do it.  

How did I end up with a 12 year old, that despite having all the gadgets and gizmos he could ask for is still bored if he's not interacting with me?  He would rather spend his day with me than playing video games or losing himself on the internet.  He, without being asked, will go in to the kitchen and clean dishes, wipe done counters, and put all the clean dishes away and then disappears in to his room without letting anyone know he did it.  He will entertain his little sister, even though he doesn't really want to, but she's bored and he wants to make her happy.

How did I end up with a 6 year old that is one of the sweetest, most caring six year olds I've ever met?  She refuses to eat a snack at school unless there's enough for all of her friends.  She has never been given a bedtime, because she will tell me at 8PM each night that she's tired and ready for bed.  She can walk around a store without having a tantrum or touching stuff.  She can sit snuggled up with me for hours.  She asks constantly to help cook dinner.  She cleans up her toys, is trustworthy with electronics, and will fix her own breakfast and lunch as if she's been doing it for years.

How did I end up with kids that go through their rooms several times a year looking for stuff that they can donate to the less fortunate?  They refuse to throw anything away, because someone may be able to get some use out of it.  Right now, my den is FULL of bags and boxes of stuff that they've found over the past few days that they want to donate.  

I'll tell you how.  

Because that's how I raised them.

I may not hand out chore charts, but my kids have responsibilities.  They do their own laundry, they clean their own rooms, they take turns cleaning their bathroom.  They want something?  They either earn it or buy it with their own money (except at Christmas).  Earning comes from volunteering for chores, not being handed them.  If I tell them to do it, they aren't going the extra distance are they?

They gladly hand over their unused clothes and toys because even though they are living the high life now, they haven't always been in that situation.  We went through our time of having to shop at thrift stores, and needing help with food donations.  They are also around kids all day long that are growing up the way they were growing up a few years ago.  They can relate to those kids, and it helps them appreciate how far we've come and how much they have now.

They want to spend time with me because I make myself accessible.  I don't spoil my kids to compensate for being an absent parent.  I don't try and buy their love.  I was one of those for a very long time.  I was either working every hour God sent, or was in school and studying during those hours.  I promised them that once I became a teacher, I would make up for it.  And I have/am.  I spend time with them.  We do stuff together.  Family time is important.  I show up for all games, school events, and functions.  I drive them wherever they need to go.  We spend our car rides talking, sharing what's going on when we're apart from each other, and making plans for what to do on the weekends.  

If my kids misbehave, they suffer the consequences.  Usually by losing privileges or belongings.  I hold THEM responsible for their actions.  You won't ever hear me make excuses for them doing something they shouldn't.  Bad grades are unacceptable.  There is absolutely NO reason grades should be any less than a C...although, I'm on their case until that C becomes an A or a B.  I don't care how mean they think their teachers are or how unrealistic the workload is - they will do it.  Because if they've got time to text and surf the web and play video games, they've got time to study.  

But you know what?  Over the past year, punishment has become something that's dished out very rarely.  Not because I'm slacking as a parent, but because they haven't done anything to warrant it.  

So, why am I writing all this stuff?

Well, because I've had to defend my parenting skills over the course of the past few months.  I have been questioned about my parental ethics, my practices, and the damage I could be doing to my kids.  

I am so very thankful that all my kids have to worry about are first world problems.  

Am I a perfect mother?  Of course not.  I make mistakes.  I do things I'm not proud of.  I'm probably a little too lenient than I should be.  But, at the end of the day, I have three amazing children....that are spoiled.  Terribly spoiled,  Yet, not spoiled rotten.  

They are sweet and caring and loving and loyal....and grateful. 

I could spend all of my time parenting them with their adult years in mind.  Making them work hard, do lots of chores, limit their social and media times.  But, at the end of the day, they are kids.  They need to be kids.

I was raised in a pretty strict house.  Lots of chores.  Lots of responsibilities.  Cooking, cleaning, studying, limited social time.  Heck, I even paid rent when I turned 16 and had to buy my own car... because that kind of stuff leads to being a responsible adult, right?

I moved out at 17, ended up pregnant, and had to crawl back to my parents with my tail between my legs at 18 because I was homeless with a child. 

Sure, I'm a great mother now.  I am doing really well for myself.  But, what I have now was from years of sacrifice, hardship, and overcoming obstacles.  My childhood was pretty good, but far from easy.  My adult life has followed the same path.

What I'm trying to say is that I can still prepare my kids for the real world while letting them be kids.  Family and school come first.  Always.  But, they need to time to have fun, be alone when they want to be, be spoiled.  They will have plenty of years to worry about "adult problems".  

Who knows, ten years from now I may be regretting how I raised my kids.  But, I don't think I will be.  I like to think that their amazing childhood will follow them, and help mold the type of parents they want to be.  

I'm OK with my kids being spoiled.  With them dealing with first world problems.  Because Lord knows, they haven't always had a life like it is now.  They've had their share of bad times, but now it's time for them to smell the roses.  

I love my children and I only want the best for them. So, please don't question my parenting skills.  I have good, honest, loving, hardworking kids.  What kind of adults will they be?  I have no idea.  But, regardless... they will always be able to say that the childhood they remember was AWESOME!!


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