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