Why are some parents overindulgent when it comes to their children? Its not just the permissive parents who give too much, strict parents are also facing this dilemma. Parents might feel guilty so they compensate with over spending on material things. Or, there may be a lack of structure and expectations - there are no rules, no chores, an no consequences.
The reasons of overindulgence are just the starting point. The end result is resentment and difficulties later in life for adult children who have never learned how to solve their own problems or cope with difficulties.
How Much is Too Much? Raising Likeable, Responsible, Respectful Children from Toddlers to Teens in an Age of Overindulgence (Da Capo Press) by Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson and David Bredehoft is an easy-to-understand guide, supported by science, that helps parents and professionals to not only recognize the problem but provides sound advice.
How Much is Too Much? is not based on the opinions of the authors but rather from 10 research studies through Concordia University, St. Paul, MN, involving over 3500 participants. Regardless of the parenting style they were exposed to, all adults who were overindulged during childhood resented it. While the over-nurture taught them to be helpless and to expect others to do things for them, from the soft-structure they learned how to be irresponsible and they lacked skills, including relationship skills. As adults they feel entitled to more of everything, have trouble finding meaning in times of hardship, and are not interested in spiritual growth. They are likely to be ungrateful, unhappy and unable to delay gratification. They may seek fame, wealth and image with no interest in helping others or making the world a better place. We know these are not the outcomes parents intended, but unfortunately overindulgence has become the new normal.
So, when is enough 'enough?' How can parents determine if giving, or doing, or allowing something is overindulging? If they can answer a clear "yes” to any one of these four questions outlined in the book, they are overindulging:
- Does the situation hinder the child from doing the tasks that support her development and learning at this age?
- Does the situation give a disproportionate amount of family resources (money, space, time, energy, attention) to one or more of the children?
- Does the situation exist to benefit the adult more than the child?
- Would this situation potentially harm others, society, or the planet in some way?
Acting as a gentle guide to help parents identify the problems, the book outlines the risky outcomes of each and suggests sensible ways to resist the behavior – even including recovery suggestions for adults who are working to recover from their own overindulgence as children. Filled with examples, it lets readers know – in a no-blame, no-shame way - why they need to be concerned.
The co-authors of How Much is Too Much? are recognized for their ability to translate raw data and psychological theory into usable, easy-to-understand information for parents and caregivers of children.
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