Resilient Man Or Spoiled Boy?

Teach your son to be resilient by letting him struggle

Spoiled Boys Make Weak Men

Spoiled Boys Make Weak Men

This is something my husband said when we first started our family (before we knew we would have 5 sons).  Over time, this simple phrase became one of our guiding principles in raising our boys. It's also one of the parenting beliefs our kids have thanked us for.

Defining 'Spoiling Kids':

The concept of "spoiling kids" varies from person to person. For this discussion, let's refer to the dictionary definition of "spoil":

  • Diminish or destroy the value of.
  • Harm the character of.

Synonyms for "spoil" include overindulge, pamper, coddle, overparent, and baby.

However, let's be clear that when we indulge or pamper our children, we don't intend to harm their character. Still, it's worth examining our intentions. Are we giving or doing too much so that we can feel better, so that they can feel better or to avoid conflict?

Spoiling our boys can look like:

  1.  Overindulgence:

Even if we can provide everything our children desire, should we? When we teach our boys that they should have everything they want, we condition them to believe they deserve it. Research shows that "spoiled children often fail to learn responsible behavior, which can result in social problems like overspending, gambling, overeating, and drug abuse in adulthood" (MedicineNet). Another study suggests that being spoiled can hinder the development of essential life skills such as coping with disappointment, frustration, or delayed gratification (MindShiftWellnessCenter).

The saying, "kids who always get what they want, will want as long as they live," highlights the long-term consequences of overindulgence.

  1.  Overparenting:

Overparenting, or doing things for our kids that they can do themselves, sends a message that they are incapable and cannot be trusted. This approach deprives our sons of essential skills like problem-solving, self-trust, and confidence.  Often anxiety can be a result of our sons perceived inability to complete tasks.

For example, after a sporting event, it's not uncommon to see a parent carrying a child's equipment while the child walks to the car empty-handed. If the child can participate in the game, they can carry their equipment.

While helicopter parenting may seem convenient in the moment, it can lead to long-term consequences.

The Lesson from a Chick's Hatching:

I'm reminded of a valuable lesson from my childhood. For my 5th-grade science experiment, I incubated chick eggs and tracked their development with a flashlight. I was so excited when those little chicks started to hatch. It was fascinating but also frustrating to see how slowly they pecked their way out of their eggs. I wanted to help them by cracking the egg open, but my dad stopped me.

He explained that the chick needs to work its way out of the egg, as that's how it gains the strength to survive. If I were to crack the egg and let it out, the chick would not survive. It's a lesson that has stayed with me—sometimes, the struggle itself (no matter how difficult to watch) is essential for survival.

The Critical Role of Moms in Building Strength:

  • Moms play a pivotal role in shaping their sons into strong, resilient men. It's essential to reflect on our parenting styles and consider the long-term impact of our actions. By avoiding overindulgence and overparenting, we provide our sons with opportunities to develop into capable, confident, happy men. 

 Remember that in the grand scheme of things - less really is more!

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