Bergner: Are kids today actually spoiled, or has our current society made it appear that way?
Recently, my kids have asked us the question: “Daddy, are we spoiled?”
My first inclination is, “Yes, of course you’re spoiled.”
They have a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and clothes on their back. Almost every day they get to play with friends, go to the park or receive some sort of sweet treat now and again (usually talking daddy into buying a slushy from the gas station). In addition, they are allowed to spend time on their iPads, watch television and listen to music on a daily basis (if house rules are followed).
That statement, “their iPads,” isn’t really true. I own them, they use them. But still, that sounds spoiled, doesn’t it?
It’s an interesting word, “spoiled,” one they picked up from who knows where (hint: likely my wife or I have used it when chastising them on how good they have it).
But the question is, are they really spoiled?
If we compare today’s generation and how society functions as a whole to, let’s say, 30 years ago, or 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, then sure, they are spoiled. But wouldn’t that mean we were spoiled as kids compared to our parents? Or our parents were spoiled compared to their parents? None of us think that, do we?
In an article I recently read written by Elisabeth Wilkins from empoweringparents.com called, “Are we raising a generation of spoiled kids,” she asks if we are raising kids who expect the planets to orbit around them … then answers, “The thing is, I don’t think this attitude is the exception in our country – it’s the norm.”
Wilkins quotes another author, Elizabeth Kolbert, who wrote an article for the New Yorker that says, “With the exception of the offspring of the Ming Dynasty and the Dauphins of pre-revolutionary France, contemporary American children represent some of the most indulged young people in history.”
Well, sure, if she means we have running water, electricity, health care, food in the grocery store we don’t have to go on a hunt for and technology to use to our advantage, then sure!
For me, I believe the answer to this subject can be taken on a case-by-case basis. For instance, we require our children to do chores, even our 5-year-old daughter who loves to help cook dinner and fold laundry (WHAT?).
Our 7-year-old son, although sometimes difficult, generally chips in and helps. The other day he emptied trash from both our vehicles and vacuumed them out without one complaint.
Their reward? They get to partake in the aforementioned things above (iPad, play time, etc.), or maybe even get a few pennies that they like to save in the piggy bank for a future toy.
The point is, they don’t have everything handed to them on a silver platter. We don’t shower them with gifts and tend to every single thing they desire. They are taught to live with disappointment. They are taught to work for things they want. And their mom and I make sure of that.
I believe most parents strive to do this. Children are not different today … parents are different. It’s up to us.
The truth is, we should only take into account the today and now, and we should stop comparing how we raise our children to how other parents used do it in the past. Otherwise, we may end up actually spoiling our children in the long run instead of raising them to be good, hard-working people who will one day hopefully contribute to society.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is news/sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.