Children today are more spoiled than ever before, Rabbi Shmuley says. He says they have a greater sense of entitlement, help less around the home and are less communicative with parents than previous generations. Rabbi Shmuley explains the reasons why and offers solutions to help parents raise less-spoiled and better-behaved children.
Why Children Are Spoiled:
Wealth: America has become a wealthy country, and now, with more disposable income than ever before, Rabbi Shmuley says parents can hire nannies, cleaners and gardeners. "Necessity is the mother of invention, and there is less of a necessity for kids to contribute to families," he says.
Overindulgence: Parents want to give their kids all the things they didn't have when they grew up, Rabbi Shmuley says. "They mistakenly believe that those things they lacked were things like $100 pairs of sneakers," he says.
Workaholic society: Rabbi Shmuley says many workaholic parents feel guilty and end up giving their children gifts instead of giving them their time.
Bad marriages: Not all parents get enough love from their spouse, so the child becomes their principal source of affection, Rabbi Shmuley says. "They spoil the child in order to buy their love—love upon which they have become unnaturally dependent."
Exhaustion: When parents work hard and stay up way too late, they lack the energy to really discipline their kids and find it easier to give in to their children's wants, he says.
Friendship over parenting: Some parents want to be best friends with their children. They create a false sense of equality with their kids when what they really need is a parent, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Equality means that they have no right to boss their children around."
How to Stop Spoiling Your Children:
Be the parent. Choose parenting over being your child's best friend and don't be afraid to assert your authority.
Enforce bedtime. Create proper and inviolable bedtimes for your children.
Start a chores list. Have each child complete three household chores a week.
Give an allowance. Besides the allowance, make your children earn money they want by doing extra chores for you or by getting a part-time job.
Have family meetings. Meet as a family at least twice a week and identify and discuss what is functioning in the home and what has become dysfunctional.
Talk to your kids. Talk with them individually, and always discuss the kind of character they should want to develop in life.
Have family dinner. At least four times a week, at a minimum, sit at the table and eat a meal as a family. Make sure the children set the table and clean up, too.
Reduce the hired help. Have your children take on some of the work of a housekeeper or gardener.
Go to church or synagogue. Get some sort of spiritual input into the family members' lives. "Give your children a life of the spirit to counteract the culture's rampant materialism," he says.
"By spoiling our children, they become brats and we do them the disservice of removing the natural cuteness that makes them adorable and lovable to the world. But by giving our children discipline and purposefulness, we protect their innocence and bring out their natural light, which makes for a brighter, more wholesome world."