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To ask for ideas to make sure that my children don't grow up to be spoilt and entitled

(27 Posts)
CountryMummy1 Tue 25-Nov-14 20:22:09

Please don't think that I am being smug. It really is not my intention and I am genuinely asking for advice.

I have a 3 year old DD and a 9 month old DS. We have a very nice life, a calm and settled family life, I am able to choose to be at home with my children as long as I want to and we are very close to supportive extended family. We have had a difficult few years due to illness and bereavement but, all in all, I know that we are very lucky.

I grew up with the same privileges but I was very much protected from any harsh realities of life. I mixed with children from the same privileged background and, as a result, I was a spoilt little madam - I look back now and cringe. It wasn't until I went to Uni and started mixing with a wider circle of people and then, when I became a teacher and worked in some of the most deprived areas of the country, that I truly began to appreciate how lucky I am.

I don't want my children to grow up like I did. I try not to buy DD lots of things for no reason and make her wait until special occasions or until she has earned it on her starchart. She has already started doing some simple chores around the house and already appreciates that we are a family and we all help each other. She is lovely with her little brother (I was wicked to my little sister - something I regret after almost losing her to cancer recently) and I have worked hard to encourage them to grow up to be very kind and respectful of each other.

I have recently started taking DD with me when I take food to the local foodbank. I talk about what we are doing in very simple terms and she seems to take it in her stride. Today, we dropped some things off and, when we came out, there was a young woman with a baby in a carseat sobbing outside the church. I asked her if she was OK and she said that she had been to the foodbank but that her name wasn't on the list so she couldn't have anything (I have no idea how foodbanks work). I asked her if I could call anyone for her and she said no, she would get off home. She started to walk, carrying a very heavy carseat. I asked her if she wanted a lift. She refused at first as she said her friend was picking her up in an hour but she would start walking. It was freezing so she eventually agreed to me giving her a lift. I took her 6 miles!!! She might have walked all that way! When we got there I gave her some of my shopping to tide her over.

I have been thinking about her all night and it has made me so upset. Could I/Should I have done more? I told my mom what had happened and she said I shouldn't take DD as she doesn't need to see that sort of thing!! I disagree.

What are your thoughts to exposing/talking to very young children about the harsher side of life and encouraging them to help others?

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Tue 25-Nov-14 20:28:24

Well you should not pick up strangers when your DD is in the car. That's obvious.

Taking her to the foodbank is fine. You could send her to a primary school with a good mix of economic backgrounds and a variety of religions. That would be the best thing to ensure she doesn't live in a bubble.

Gawjushun Tue 25-Nov-14 20:37:02

You sound very caring and generous, and this should hopefully be passed down onto your children. Setting a good example is half the battle.

I think the reward charts and getting children to 'earn' treats really goes a long way. They enjoy the things they have even more.

I agree about the school thing. It's good for children to mix with people of different backgrounds. If not at school, then maybe at their activities, or you could get them to help out at community events once they're old enough.

FrancisdeSales Tue 25-Nov-14 20:38:51

I think the most important things is your own attitude. You obviously have changed your own thoughts and mind so now you need to always stay awake and not take anything for granted. Always be aware of your children's safety but be aware we are all the same, noone is a better human being because of their possessions. Discourage materialism and find meaningful ways to form friendships with people from different backgrounds that are not superficial.

DoraGora Tue 25-Nov-14 20:41:39

I would watch how your friends bring up their children, especially when the children are doing something wrong. Most of the parents that I know are firm but sensible.

What would you say that it was about your upbringing that made spoilt?

TheBogQueen Tue 25-Nov-14 20:44:53

Develop their empathy. Don't tolerate mean behaviour.

CountryMummy1 Tue 25-Nov-14 20:46:51

I would say that I got everything I wanted, parents always gave into a tantrum, no discipline, I had no idea about the value of money etc.

Luckily, my parents now say that they see the error of their ways regarding the discipline so they do follow my positive discipline approach. On the other things we still have differing views to some extent.

TheNewClassic Tue 25-Nov-14 20:59:26

The tone of the op is annoying for some reason.

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Tue 25-Nov-14 21:28:43

Classic It's a bit prim and self congratulatory. I'm sure OP tried NOT to be those things but you're never going to manage that when you're basically telling everyone how privileged you are.

I suppose OP could simply have asked "What is the best way to ensure my child grows up well rounded, isn't materialistic and has access to friends from diverse backgrounds."

But then she'd just be told to move to Hackney I suppose.

skylark2 Tue 25-Nov-14 21:44:46

Since you have a local foodbank so don't live in an exclusively wealthy area, just take your kids to the local toddler group and playgroup when they're little (not, or at least not only, an expensive private nursery, or NCT mums and babies which tends not to be very socially varied). Try the local Cubs / Brownies / Scouts etc. when they are a bit older, not just expensive activities.

It's not about teaching your kids to give handouts to those less fortunate than them. It's about teaching them to consider them as friends and equals.

Could you have done more for the young woman? Well, you have a child of a similar age - couldn't you have swapped numbers and suggested she comes round for coffee sometime, or you go to the park for your kiddies to play on the swings when hers is a few months older? It's all a bit you the angel from above, rather than you the fellow mum.

Darkandstormynight Tue 25-Nov-14 21:54:41

I think you are are doing fine. I find that truthfully, a lot of it is really in the make up of the person. Ds is an only child, and has never wanted for anything. But honestly, he hardly asks for anything either. Very rarely did he ask for anything at the store even when he was very young. Now that he's almost a teenager, when I asked what he would like for birthday and Christmas, he told me, "Mum, I really don't need anything".

I'm not saying this because I think he's a saint (he's not) or that I'm a perfect parent (I'm certainly not). But I think in a similar situation, but with a different personality, ds could have ended up spoilt.

Something always stuck with me that my own mum said, "Actions speak louder than words" and I find it's really true. I try to do my own good deeds and not even specifically talk about them. Children will notice when you do something nice (like giving the woman a lift) without even talking about it.

maninawomansworld Thu 27-Nov-14 17:17:30

Children learn best by example. You sound like a lovely person and your kids will pick up on what you do naturally and emulate you.
Sure, some kids / people are naturally different but I don't think you're in any danger of turning out selfish brats.
As for the question of whether you could have done more, you already did 10 times more than most people would have. Keep doing what you're doing!

TheWordFactory Thu 27-Nov-14 17:41:11

I worry about this.

I grew up very poor, but my DC are growing up in a very comfortable environment.

We don't shower them with gifts, but the fabric of their lives ( home, school, holidays etc) is luxurious.

All I've done really is let them know how lucky they are and how most people don't live this way. Even though a lot of their friends are equally wealthy, we have lots of families members who are not,

They're teens now and ask for little. They do voluntary work and seem to understand the world.

They have had it drilled into them that their end of the bargain is to work absurdly hard at school grin.

That said, their expectations are sometimes off key, which although I swiftly put right, makes me shock.

TheHorseHasBolted Thu 27-Nov-14 18:00:30

My suggestions, based on what seems to be going on with the most spoilt and entitled child I know, would be:

Don't always take their side if they get told off or argue with friends. Accept that they are unlikely to be perfect and may well have done what they've been accused of doing (I'm talking little things here, like talking in class when they shouldn't or being slightly unkind to their friends occasionally). In the unlikely event that they do something badly wrong, like violence or stealing, don't look for the person who "led them astray", encourage them to own up and take responsibility for their own part in it. Do give them a consequence that means something to them - a computer ban always worked well for my DC. If someone has been really badly unkind to them, then fine, complain about it, but not for every little thing, and don't describe it as bullying if it's really very trivial.

Try to nip tale-telling in the bud, not by telling them off for it, but just by showing them that some of the things they're getting all agitated about are really not that important in the grand scheme of things. For instance, if they're moaning that somebody wouldn't play with them, just say something like, "oh, that's a shame, maybe she just didn't feel like it today." My rule of thumb is that it's OK to tell if someone is getting hurt or property is getting damaged, but if someone else is breaking the rules in some minor way, it's up to the person who set the rules to decide what to do about it, not another child.

Encouraging them to show compassion by getting them involved in charities etc is great, but some children do get a bit smug about doing this sort of thing. Explain that it's not something to go round telling everybody about (I think there's a Bible story about this - I'm not religious but it might be worth a mention). It's not something to be ashamed of either, it's just private, like you wouldn't go around telling everybody how many wees you'd done that day.

grumbleina Thu 27-Nov-14 19:05:25

100% agree with what TheHorseHasBolted said.

I don't personally think that the charity thing is necessarily ideal or enough at that age - it's a nice thing to do, but it does sort of imply 'these people are different' when what you want is for your DD to understand that people are people.

Sounds like you're doing the right thing with discipline and I think that's hugely important. Most of the 'challenging' kids I know are the ones who struggle with not getting what they want.

Someone else suggested a wide range of activities and mixing with children from all backgrounds - I agree with that hugely. For her to be experiencing all sorts of different families and lifestyles would, I think, at this age, be the most helpful thing.

tallulah Thu 27-Nov-14 19:16:55

Also agree with what TheHorse said.

I don't think you can make little children appreciate how lucky they are, nor teens come to that. I also don't think you should be involving her in the charity stuff - it's a bit Lady Bountiful coming to bestow on the Poor People.

The children My DC knew growing up who were total brats were always given everything they wanted the second they asked for it. Xmas and birthdays weren't special because they would just get things all the time.

We had 4 DC and a low income, so would spend £10 on each of them for Xmas. We were lucky that we had a big family so they got lots from everyone else but they appreciated what they did get. Plus their requests would be reasonable. While their friends would get a bike and a TV and the latest must-have toy they'd get the one thing they really really wanted.

DD1 was disgusted, aged 3.5, when her friend opened his gift from "Santa" at playgroup, moaned "it's a book" and threw it on the floor. She was thrilled to bits with hers.

TinklyLittleLaugh Thu 27-Nov-14 19:28:45

I agree with Dark, actually setting a good example is the main thing. My kids have always been the mouthy ones, sticking up for the weird smelly kid that no one else would sit by. Thinking about it, they get that from lovely DH, and hopefully a little bit from me too.

A couple of years ago, we were outside Manchester hospital in the snow and this absolutely off his head, Shaun Ryder lookalikey had got his wheelchair stuck. Everyone just walked past him, so DH went over and pushed him to the bus stop. He took a few minutes to find out which bus the guy needed, (he was practically incoherent) while everyone else was looking the other way. When the bus came, DH helped him on.

Unfortunately at this point, the bus driver decided DH must be the guy's carer so drove off down the road with him, and refused to stop until he was at the next bus stop. Me and the kids were left standing there in the snow laughing so much that tears were rolling down our faces.

But I was really proud of DH that day and I think the kids were too.

CorporateRockWhore Thu 27-Nov-14 19:51:17

Claw do you really mean to say that it's 'obvious' that you shouldn't pick up a crying, hungry, poor woman with a new baby in the cold, lest a child witness it?

What a horrible attitude!

PerpetualStudent Thu 27-Nov-14 20:07:22

4 key phrases:
"Because I said so"
"Life isn't fair"
"You're not bored, you're boring"

Repeat as needed :D

Gatehouse77 Thu 27-Nov-14 20:09:36

Teaching them the value of money is very key - the old "I want, doesn't get" response.
Give them pocket money (we started in Y2, so roughly 6 years old) with 50p that was basically to buy sweets. If I offered to buy them any outside of that that was my choice. If they asked, it would be an immediate response of "Have you got your pocket money with you?". Once mine reach 13 they get a bank account in their own name and a monthly allowance and they have to afford any activities, presents, etc. outside of family stuff. They can borrow money from us but will be asked for it back. They do have savings accounts which they often put birthday/Christmas money into, especially if saving up for something specific. In fact, they often saved up their pocket money and my youngest saved hers for over 18months to buy her iPad (along with other gifts of money - they only ever got a maximum of £3 pocket money).

IMO a lot of 'entitled' people are not used to being told "No!" and having it explained to them why. An explanation I will only repeat once (with degrees of flexibility) as I won't be drawn into a lengthy discussion about something that will not change!

katsumama Thu 27-Nov-14 20:16:39

We have 2 children and give them everything they need and quite a lot of the things they just want. Children are not grateful - it is not in their nature and nothing you do will make them pay any more than lip service to gratitude. But you can show compassion and kindness to them and people around you and they will hopefully absorb this.

If you give them facts about the world they will work it out. You don't have to say, look at these poor children they have nothing. This is such a dead-end comment. What are they supposed to do? And if it's so awful, why aren't you doing anything about it yourself? Why are you just dropping off this poor lady in the cold, salvaging your conscience with a few tins of tomatoes? You can teach the reality of the world, and tell them it's ok to be happy with who they are and what they have.

raltheraffe Thu 27-Nov-14 20:17:57

Im with thenewclassic on this one. annoying and self-congratulatory

Hairtodaygonetomorrow Thu 27-Nov-14 20:29:07

I don't really know why you are trying not to emulate your own background, you might have grown up with a lot of material security but you have obviously developed empathy and an interest in giving back in the form of teaching. Why not be more confident that your children would have the same capacity to see beyond their immediate surroundings?

I actually think giving children a very secure base, ideally not worrying about money is a very valuable thing. I find it difficult to make ends meet and have had to move about a lot and it's not ideal for children. You do come over a bit like you want to visit the poor people so they don't grow up ungrateful, but why would they if you don't model this behaviour?

It's nice you helped this lady, but she did have a lift coming and chose to start walking. Plus if she had a very heavy car seat how would she have carried the food home? I'm sure she was in genuine need (well, not sure) but also be aware that people do scams involving seeming needy/involving children, then asking for money/food etc- in this situation you were very kind, but you did give her food. Not sure I would always model this- but then I have been nice, stopped for 'broken down cars' (where they never want to phone anyone) and been scammed about three times! Including one with children in the back, incredibly sad.

The tone of your post is a bit odd, I think less picking up random people and imagining that they are all very straightforward, honest, but a bit poor might be a good idea. Sorry sounds harsh but I think people will see you and your Lady Bountiful thing coming and you may actually have to teach your children to be a bit more worldly wise.

goingmadinthecountry Thu 27-Nov-14 20:30:04

I guess I grew up in a bit of a bubble - only child at private school and all that. Dad was a vicar, mum was a social worker and she was the one with a hangup, so when I mixed with "less fortunate" people there was always an air of us helping them about her.

The incident I remember was a little boy turning up at our (lovely) house to play with me after school. He was from a notorious local family so my mum tolerated him but would not let him in the house. She filled the washing up bowl with soap and water and made him wash his hands in the garden!! He was also given food (beefburger in a bun if I recall) in a paper towel in the garden. It still sticks (in my throat) - I must have been no more than 8 and I'm now fast approaching 51!! Can you even imagine being that patronising?

I can't imagine treating anyone like that. I try to teach dd to judge people according to what they are like, not where they come from. I choose my own friends in the same way. I'm embarrassed by my mother's views on life.

WitchesGlove Thu 27-Nov-14 23:22:06

You sound like you are doing a good job. You were very kind to that lady at the food bank.

Could you not lie to your dc's that you are skint? And only buy them second hand stuff and shop in cheap shops? That will make them more appreciative.

I recently had a stranger come up to me and ask for £4. She said she'd had an asthma attack and needed the money to go home and get her inhaler. She also said she was 7 months pregnant and her DH had just chucked her out of their shared flat that morning. I offered to call police/ambulance. She refused.

I lied and said I had mo money. To which she replied: "Faaaaack's Sake!!!!!"

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