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Parents, spoil your children with love

When I gave birth to my first born, I received a lot of advice from other parents and the most common was that if I rushed to pick up my baby whenever it cried, it would grow up to become a spoiled brat.

At that time my mother-in-law visited and one day she asked me why I did not hurry to pick up my daughter who had a tendency to yell at the top of her voice.

She listened as I explained the child-spoiling theory, and then picked up her granddaughter, exclaiming that a parent cannot spoil a child with love.

Upbringing

Although she was not well educated, she had managed to raise 10 well-rounded children. She said today’s parents experience problems while raising their children because they have placed a different meaning on the word love.

My househelp – who has been with me for six years – goes to church on Sundays. After church, she would come home with all manner of junk food for my children.

My two younger children became so addicted to this weekly treat that they began to turn their noses up at their supper until they had eaten their sweets.

Many parents see no harm in indulging their children with all the toys, television and outings they desire.

Give them treats

It suddenly hit me one evening how my children reacted after the househelp failed to give them the treats they had become addicted to.

My youngest son threw a tantrum after she told him that she did not have money to buy them treats.

He shocked me by saying that she should have forgone buying airtime to get him the junk food, at which point I promptly put a stop to any further Sunday treats until the children understood that greed is a vice.

I will not be showing love to my children when I seek to satisfy their every heart’s desire. In fact, as evidenced by my son’s outburst, they were learning to be disrespectful.

I was one of the few people in my neighbourhood who experienced hours without TV when the analogue signal was switched off late last year. I am yet to buy a decoder because I believe that children should read more books.

At that time, my daughter’s classmate paid her a visit and was aghast that there was nothing to watch on TV, which she told everyone at their school the next day.

Schoolwork

Luckily for me, my daughter seemed unbothered at being the butt of several jokes, quite correctly stating that she is as adept at her schoolwork as her classmate is at its opposite.

Unfortunately for most parents, our children learn to gauge their self-worth with others’ barometers of how they live, look and how many toys they own.

The lessons I learned from my parents that true self-worth comes from inside, from knowing that we are valuable for who we are, and not for outward appearances – should also hold true for my children.

They also taught me that one can spoil children with material things, but never by loving them.

Like my parents, I believe that I show love to my children when I spend time with them and listen to them, and that this can never be replaced by material possessions.