Why do adults transform when they become parents?

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As a school psychologist, it never ceases to amaze me how I keep running into parents who didn’t have much as a child, and then spoil their children with material things.  Even more amazing is that these parents had to work very hard to give their children these things.  And these parents turned out to be decent, law abiding, hard working people, but they are raising their children just the opposite.  And the same situation occurs with responsibility.  I have worked with many parents who had many responsibilities as a child, but raise their children with no real responsibilities.  Some people might say that they are doing this to compensate or somehow make up for the things they didn’t have as a child, and they don’t want their child to have to do everything they did.  I don’t know for sure why such parents do this (and I don’t think the reason really matter).  What I do know from seeing these kids in school and in my office is that these parents are developing in their child a belief system, or way of thinking, that they deserve everything and don’t have to work for it.  In confronting parents like this about what they are doing, they often admit it and may even have a sense of guilt if they don’t spoil their child.  What is most disturbing to me is that they don’t seem to consider the long-term consequences.  Think about your own children and the things in life they have, and the activities they get to do, that they don’t really have to have or usually even deserve.  It’s probably a lot more than you think, and a lot more than you had when you were young.   And don’t forget the responsibilities that they have.  Our children’s personalities are being molded and formed by the things we give them, why we give them, and the responsibilities we give them.  How they will view life as an adult is being determined right now

You might be thinking at this point that I am stretching things a bit.  Well, first you have to consider that we live in a society that totally reinforces these ways of childrearing.  On TV kids are bombarded with things such as toys, video games, cell phones, treats, and on and on.  And the TV shows and movies constantly show kids who have these things.  Then there is the societal pressure, peer pressure, or the “keep up with the Jones” effect.  As a parent I catch myself getting caught-up in this, and have to step back and remind myself that it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you still think I’m stretching things, consider this.  Parents, who can’t deny giving their child something, won’t make them or “can’t” get them to do anything (such as chores), somehow get them to go to school every day.  Of course I’m not saying that going to school is not important.  However, parents like this reflect some of the beliefs of our society.  We can’t deny our kids things (that they don’t have to have) and we can’t expect them to do very much outside of school, but we can make them go to school.  I have met many parents who do everything for their teenage child, and then they won’t even get up to get a drink of water for their parents.  However, their parent does not give them an option and stands strong when it comes to going to school every day.  There is no giving-in on this one.  They get their kids to school every day, year after year, and produce self-centered, irresponsible, dependant adults.

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