Contrary to how it may seem, we really try hard not to â€œspoilâ€ our children.Â We donâ€™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. Weâ€™re not short-order cooks (they eat what we cook or they donâ€™t eat) and tell them â€œnoâ€ to new items more often than â€œyesâ€ (â€œitâ€™s not in the budget,â€ is a phrase they all know well). And though I often call my van their taxi, theyâ€™re not allowed more than 2 extracurricular activities during the school year.
Iâ€™m not saying all this to toot my own horn or claim that weâ€™re perfect parents. We make our share of mistakes, just like everyone else, and Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s something for which my kids will one day seek therapy. Iâ€™m saying it because I have a genuine dilemma, a question of good parenting versus â€œspoiling.â€
Itâ€™s a question Iâ€™ve had before, but one that comes up so unexpectedly and so infrequently, that I donâ€™t take much time to ponder if Iâ€™ve made the right decision afterwards. Iâ€™m pondering now.
The Girl, now 13-1/2, loves to go to friendsâ€™ houses for sleepovers.Â Sheâ€™s never been afraid to sleep away from home and has even spent multiple nights away (at grandmaâ€™s or her best friendâ€™s house). Typically, these sleepovers happen without incident. I can count on one hand the number of times sheâ€™s called me late at night asking me to come get her. Last night was one of them.
The few times this has happened itâ€™s been because she â€œdidnâ€™t feel wellâ€ (with no fever or symptoms) or â€œjust wanted to come home.â€ 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 â€œtough it outâ€ until a decent hour? And every time Iâ€™ve gone to get her. Just like last night.
I tell myself that Iâ€™m doing it because I want her to know Iâ€™m always available â€¦ especially as she enters teen years â€¦ to come get her out of any situation that sheâ€™s uncomfortable in. But then I second guess myself, wondering if Iâ€™m just babying her, if I should allow her to work through the situation on her own?
And Iâ€™m wondering even more because sheâ€™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 â€œspoilingâ€ her? Am I doing more harm than good? What would you do?