Contrary to how it may seem, we really try hard not to “spoil” our children. We don’t want them to grow up being disrespectful or feeling entitled to anything. Sure, they have TVs and X-boxes (Christmas gifts and/or purchased by someone else) and phones (our hand-me-downs), but they have chores and responsibilities as well. They make good grades; generally behave well (with the occasional attitude); help with laundry, keeping the house clean, and making meals; and, until recently, helped with farm work. We’re not short-order cooks (they eat what we cook or they don’t eat) and tell them “no” to new items more often than “yes” (“it’s not in the budget,” is a phrase they all know well). And though I often call my van their taxi, they’re not allowed more than 2 extracurricular activities during the school year.
I’m not saying all this to toot my own horn or claim that we’re perfect parents. We make our share of mistakes, just like everyone else, and I’m sure there’s something for which my kids will one day seek therapy. I’m saying it because I have a genuine dilemma, a question of good parenting versus “spoiling.”
It’s a question I’ve had before, but one that comes up so unexpectedly and so infrequently, that I don’t take much time to ponder if I’ve made the right decision afterwards. I’m pondering now.
The Girl, now 13-1/2, loves to go to friends’ houses for sleepovers. She’s never been afraid to sleep away from home and has even spent multiple nights away (at grandma’s or her best friend’s house). Typically, these sleepovers happen without incident. I can count on one hand the number of times she’s called me late at night asking me to come get her. Last night was one of them.
The few times this has happened it’s been because she “didn’t feel well” (with no fever or symptoms) or “just wanted to come home.” Every time it has happened, I have had a (albeit momentary) struggle: Do I go get her just because she wants to come home or do I make her stay and “tough it out” until a decent hour? And every time I’ve gone to get her. Just like last night.
I tell myself that I’m doing it because I want her to know I’m always available … especially as she enters teen years … to come get her out of any situation that she’s uncomfortable in. But then I second guess myself, wondering if I’m just babying her, if I should allow her to work through the situation on her own?
And I’m wondering even more because she’s going to a full week of band camp for the first time next week.
Which is it? When I pick her up early, am I being a good parent or “spoiling” her? Am I doing more harm than good? What would you do?