It is far easier for a parent to “make” a child happy than to “teach” a child to be happy. We notice that many parents, in their earnestness to ensure that their offspring is never unhappy, spare no effort in catering to the child’s every whimsical demand.
Blinded by love and affection, they believe that the smile of satisfaction on the child’s face is the only reward they need – that they have done their duty of providing a happy childhood to their darling.
It was Family Counselor Maggie Mamen who coined the term, “Pampered Child Syndrome”. During a twenty years period of handling psychological issues of children, she realized the intensely negative impact that pampering had on children’s emotional development.
Sadly, by the time the damage is realized, it is too late. Parenthood (like every stage in life) relies significantly on the experiential learning process. Sometimes it may be at the threshold of grand-parenthood that parents understand the errors in their parenting process and accept them as costly oversights.
What is the price of parental indulgence that the child pays?
In the acute desire of ensuring that their children are always in a happy disposition, parents unwittingly pave the way to doom. Their indulgence grooms the child into an unsatisfied, unsure and bored adult who has little care in anything other than satisfying her/his immediate desire, the costs and effects that others may have to suffer being immaterial..
Why does this happen?
More often than not, pampered children enjoy the happiness derived from possessing objects or seeing their demands met. They do not bother with “experiential opportunities”. Experiential opportunities enable a child to experience a wealth of situations to understand the world, people around her, her rightful position among them and thereby herself.
To a child, holidaying in lands with different cultures and people is quite a different experience from learning a musical instrument. Yet, the common thread is that they both are enlightening, pleasurable and enriching inputs into the child’s intellectual and emotional self. The pleasures derived from these joyful activities have a far superior effect in inducing long term happiness unlike the short term joy that the child derives from the latest gadget she received as a gift.
Some parents show a weakness for sermons – not that they love to listen to them but love to deliver them at the drop of a hat, so to speak. No invitation, no provocation needed. Of course they mean well but are absolutely unaware of the torture the poor little listener endures.
As parents, we believe that narration of success stories of famous personalities would invariably inspire children. What is often forgotten or conveniently overlooked is that learning begins at home. For most children their parents are THE personalities they look up to with awe and admiration as role models.
Sermons, however well-delivered, are no substitute to the example of the life that the parent leads. Make sure it brims with a quality that the child can observe and emulate and be guided and motivated to lead a happy life.
Parents who are wise enough to guide and support their child through the exemplary life they lead is inspiring the child. For parents, the learning from our children eventually happen when we realize that our quest for knowledge and improvement includes parenting too.
Let’s make our child’s childhood happy and joyous – for them and for us too.