Monday, April 29, 2013

Benefits of Being a Spoiled Child



Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap...and yet God feeds them. ...Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ~Luke 12:24, 27

I was, by most anyone’s standards, a spoiled child. This is no bad reflection on my parents, whom I deeply appreciate. I just don’t think they were prepared for me. My older sister was an easy child compared to me. When I came along, they probably assumed I would follow her lead.

I didn’t. I had colic, for starters. To say I was a picky eater is an understatement. I basically ate three things and refused anything else. (Miraculously, I was a very healthy kid, so it must have been all the milk I drank.) I didn’t have any chores or responsibilities at home. I had everything I asked for and more. If I didn’t get my way, I threw a tantrum. I’m told that I behaved well in public, but at home I was unruly and disrespectful. It’s no wonder that my sister wanted to sell me to the gypsies, and it speaks to her tolerance and virtue that she didn’t.

Although I raised my children differently, I’m not here to debate parenting practices. I’m here to reflect on some things I learned from my childhood.

I learned that, as Art Buchwald said, “the best things in life aren’t things.” As it turns out, money really doesn’t buy happiness, or friendship, or self-respect, or love. I’ve never won the lottery, and I would be delighted if I did, but I already know that more is not always better.

The Tao Te Ching teaches, “He who knows enough is enough will always have enough.” I learned that if I can’t be content with what I have, I will not be content with more. Beyond my basic needs, everything else is a bonus.

I learned that the world does not bend to my will and that tantrums won’t change that. Serenity comes from accepting the things I cannot change, not from railing against them.

I learned that true wealth lies in the connection I have with others. In my self-absorbed youth, I was not always a good friend, a good daughter, a good sibling. I regret some of the choices I made that hurt people who cared about me. I’ve tried to do better.

I learned that giving and gratitude are both better than grasping, whether it is grasping things or people or circumstances.

I learned that like the ravens my needs will be met. True, putting a roof over my head and food on the table requires some sowing and reaping on my part. But the love that feeds my spirit is freely and abundantly supplied.

I learned that like the lilies I am indeed arrayed like royalty. Without any effort on my part, I have been clothed with this precious human life, in a body complete with lungs that breathe, a heart that beats, eyes that see, and arms to hold with.

I’m not advocating spoiling as a child rearing philosophy. It was hard on me, and I’m quite sure it was even harder on my family. But those were priceless lessons and I think I’m better for having learned them.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. ~Psalm 32:8

related posts: So Generous; Back; Be Glad In It

52 comments:

  1. I have been reading some very inspiring words on line today. I can truly say I have been inspired by posts, sunshine and fierce winds. Thank you for adding to the plus column of my day

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    1. Patricia, I'm pleased that my words are counted among your inspiring words today. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Oh Galen.....I can honestly I WAS NOT a spoiled child.....perhaps if I had been I would have learned some of the wonderful lessons you posted about......at an earlier age! One never knows, does one.

    Jo

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    1. Jo, No, we don't know. We all learn these lessons one way or another I think. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. I too appreciate so many of your words here today, and the main theme running throughout of less is more. But also so many of us from time to time really need to recall upon those simple words, of knowing when we have enough, and being content with what we have. I still use the example like my mother always did when I said I just didn't have anything to wear, out of my closet, her reply was, "well, then you have too many choices!"

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    1. Karen, I love that! When my daughter would tell me she was bored, I always replied that I could find something for her to do. That would end her boredom right away! Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Galen I was not a spoiled child by no means, we grew up in poverty and somehow I managed to learn similar life lessons. I always thought that because I grew up with nothing, sometimes not even a meal at dinner time, that I appreciated all I had more so than those who had everything handed to them on a silver platter. I've come to believe life lessons are here for us to all learn, we all learn in our own way regardless of who we are, or who we are not, and we all have the opportunity to learn, all we have to do is want it bad enough! Mind you sometimes we can learn without even realizing the message is starting straight at us.

    Excellent post, thank you for sharing this.

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    1. darlin, I agree that we all come to these lessons eventually by whatever path we're on. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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  5. Galen, thanks for you honest and wise words. I was not spoiled with things. I was probably fortunate in that most of the other children in other families had about the same amount, so I never knew we were poor in many ways. We always had enough with some extra, and that seemed the norm for me. That has helped me as I have gone through life and have not been able to afford every new thing. I don't crave more things. On the other hand, I still need to remind myself that enough is enough because sometimes I worry that something will happen and I'll be left with nothing. It's a fear of being without more than a yearning for more. Does that make sense?

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    1. Tina, Yes, it makes perfect sense. Although I had lots of "things" as a kid, I learned that they didn't make me happy. As an adult, I've lived a modest life in many ways. I just don't care about new clothes or fancy cars, or whatever. Your fear that you might not have enough reminds me of a quote. The billionaire Rockefeller was asked how much more money he needed before he had enough. He responded, "Just a little more." For some folks, there is never enough. Thanks for your comment.

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  6. My diet for my first 12 years was 95% cottage cheese, butter and jelly sandwiches, and chips, and 5% McDonalds plain cheeseburgers and fries. I know from finicky.

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    1. CW, Amazing what a child can thrive on, isn't it?! Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Hi Galen,

    That was beautiful indeed :)

    Some kids are spoiled and that's very normal too. I agree it's tough on the parents and on the child more so having to undergo a great deal. And most of the time they don't even come to know of it till much later in life. Nevertheless, parents still love them - don't they?

    I liked your list of lessons learnt through your journey. It's just like they say - everything in turn teaches you a lesson, and perhaps being spoiled was a blessing in disguise too :)

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day ahead :)

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    1. Harleena, Yes, it was tough, not in material ways of course, but in emotional and spiritual ways. I think for me I was always anxious because there were no limits or boundaries. I was much more strict as a parent. But I am grateful for the lessons I learned. Thanks for your comment.

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  8. Hi Galen,

    I'm so glad you were able to learn such precious lessons from the experience of being a spoiled child. If we can just learn to be content, that is truly the key to happiness!

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    1. Sandra, I'd like to think there are other ways of learning these lessons, and I hope I taught them to my kids while at the same time providing more structure and accountability. But we all learn them eventually one way or another! Thanks for your comment.

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  9. I was not a spoiled child ... though my two older sisters claim I was. Regardless, I'm still learning many of those lessons, esp. the one that says, "True wealth lies in the connection I have with others."

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    1. Tom, We all learn these lessons and continue to learn them. Interesting that you have a different memory than your sisters do! Thanks for your comment.

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  10. Wonderful lessons, Galen! I especially like the one about enough being enough - if we're not content with what we have, getting more will never make it better.
    Love and blessings!

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    1. Martha, Thanks for your comment. I'm enjoying your book!

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  11. My daughter was totally spoiled and guided at the same time Galen and has become an amazing and beautiful person.

    It's horses for courses. We can spoil our children and they become simply spoiled brats with a huge sense of entitlement. And then there are those, like you, who have obviously been given and found the true foundation of life.

    Love Elle
    xoxo

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    1. Elle, I think at some level we learn from who are parents are, not just what they do. My parents might have spoiled me in some ways, but they were both good people and I guess that won out in the end! Just like I'm sure your daughter has learned from the wonderful, light filled person you are. Thanks for your comment.

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  12. This post was an eye-opener for me. Presently my husband's niece is spending her holidays with us and all I have are complaints that she isn't like this or doesn't do what she ought to do. I guess she is a spoilt brat at home and hence the behaviour continues here as well. Well, I cannot imagine that you were like that but I guess on hindsight you have learnt many invaluable lessons but about her, only time can say. I just wish.

    Thanks for this post.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. Susan, I'm sorry you are having to deal with that behavior. I never tolerated in my own children what my parents tolerated in me! And if you can't believe I was like that, you can ask my sister! Thanks for your comment.

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  13. Galen - I just returned from a memorial service of the 10th year anniversary of the bombing of Mike's Place - a bar and blues restaurant in Tel Aviv- 3 young people were killed. It was a magnificent ceremony and very emotional.

    Somehow your words overlap with those of the father of a 23 year old young man killed by a suicide bomber. I am paraphrasing what he said:

    "People say that when I die I will finally be with my son. That may be. But while I'm alive on this earth I want to be without him. Because if I am, I will remember him."

    I loved the Tao Te Ching quote - 'He who knows enough is enough has enough.' That pretty much says it all.

    With gratitude for a magnificent, moving post - Fra

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    1. Fran, Thank you for sharing this story. I was very moved by what the father said about his son. Thanks for commenting.

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  14. A beautiful ode to finding gratitude. You always say it just right!

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  15. Thanks so much for a lovely, inspiring post, Galen! Your comments about giving and gratitude as well as serenity (as opposed to tantrums) resonated with me!

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    1. Kathleen, I'm so glad this post struck a chord with you. Thanks for commenting.

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  16. Hi Galen,

    Lovely post. I had to smile when I read your words. From reading your articles and seeing your around the internet, you do not present yourself as one that was ever spoiled. You seem to have understood the situation and learned that being spoiled could not last forever.

    I love "I learned that giving and gratitude are both better than grasping,..." Gratitude and giving can be the key to inner happiness. Thank you!

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    1. Cathy, Judging from the tantrums I had, I didn't enjoy being spoiled even as a child. It didn't really make anyone happy. I was relieved when it ended! And yes, I hope that my behavior has improved since then, but you should check with my sister for her opinion on that! Thanks for commenting.

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  17. I can't be more surprised to read how it was like when you were a child. It is also interesting how you have raised your children. It's great that you are able to turn your experiences into everyday lessons for us all.

    On the side, I hope that my children - while not extremely spoiled but who grow up having enough - will truly appreciate what they have one day.

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    1. Evelyn, There is much in my past that would surprise you! Once, my daughter expressed surprise that I was not fooled by something she was trying to get past me. She asked, "How did you know?" I replied, "Honey, you are not even in my league." I'm so glad that none of my kids was as bad as I was! Thanks for commenting.

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  18. What a powerful insightful post It is so interesting to recognize later in our lives how our childhood has taught us many life lessons; as it should. I too was spoiled just like you and I took very bad tantrums and then fainted. My mother threw some water in my face and now I can't stand shower water on my face.
    I look back now at the many lessons learned and the gratitude I have for the love of my parents and family.
    I too believe that God is watching over us. Sometime, you will have to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle choir sing the hymn; "Lilies Of The field". I will share it sometime.
    Blessings and thanks for your wise thoughts today.

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    1. Oh, LeAnn, I had to laugh! And like other commenters who are surprised I was such a handful, I am just as surprised about you. I know I had God and a whole platoon of guardian angels who managed to keep me from destroying my life and taking a few others down with me. I'd love to hear the song. Email me a link if you get a chance. Thanks for commenting.

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  19. Hi Galen,

    I could connect with what you said about being a spoilt child. I was the same. My parents ensured I always got what I wanted and my sisters, too. However, at the same I like to think I turned out ok! Although I got everything I wanted when I was young, I also feel fortunate that I got into spirituality and self-development and learnt, and subsequently experienced the truth that material objects will never truly make me happy. The ego is such, that when it attains, unless one has developed some understanding of what is really happening, the ego will want more. It will never be satisfied and we remain attached to wherever it wants us to go.

    Thank you.

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    1. Hiten, A good description of the ego's insatiable desire--thank you! It's interesting that among the commenters, some of us were spoiled and some weren't, and yet we have all learned the same lesson. Thanks for your comment.

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  20. Just loved this! Thank you for sharing your journey with us and highlighting what is most important in life!

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    1. Vrndavana, Thanks for your kind words.

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  21. Glalen, this was a beautiful post. I love how you withhold judgement on your parents and simply state all the lessons you've learned. You're a beautiful lady. Great post!

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    1. Leah, Although my parents did not know how to provide structure and accountability for me in my childhood, they were wonderful in many ways. I'm grateful to them and for them. Thanks for your kind words.

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  22. How beautifully written! Thank you, Kaylin

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  23. I loved the lessons that you have learned from your childhood. Thanks so much for sharing them.

    "I learned that giving and gratitude are both better than grasping, whether it is grasping things or people or circumstances." Yes! A lesson we all need to be reminded of sometimes. I wouldn't say I grasp at things too much but certainly circumstances...sometimes just being attached to time in solitude can keep me from being a source of love and compassion to those around me...Something I need to work on.

    I really like how you draw from different religious traditions in yours posts. :)

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    1. Jessica, Thanks for highlighting that we can be attached to many things, not just "things." As for drawing from different faith traditions, I find much wisdom and beauty in many different forms. Thanks for your comment.

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  24. I love the quote you share Galen;“He who knows enough is enough will always have enough.”LOL. You're speaking to the post I plan to publish on Monday, kind of.
    I wonder if it is possible to spoil a child in the way we grew up understanding the phrase. Seems you can't give too much love but at the same time set boundaries. I was lucky; my children were very easy to raise. My main mandate was to let them know how much they were loved.
    Lori

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    1. Lori, I actually have that quote framed! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on "spoiling." I look forward to your Monday post.

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  25. It's sometimes amazing how we develop and learn in spite of our parents ...and this is surely reassuring to those of us who are parents too... it often leaves me in awe that my son grew up ok, and in fact is a happy, balanced person, in spite of the mistakes I made as a mother!

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    1. Vivienne, So true! I figure we "correct" some of the things our parents did and then we make our own mistakes. Somehow the kids grow up and become who they are and we wonder what part we played in that. Thanks for your comment.

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  26. Any child that cute must be spoiled. It's the law.

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    1. JJ, The little girl in the photo is cute indeed. Thanks for stopping by.

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