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Heck Yeah, I Spoil My Kid

Dec 13, 2018

Years ago, during Grade 1 curriculum night at my daughter’s school, her teacher invited the parents to look at self-portraits the students had drawn that were displayed on the wall. My daughter’s picture immediately jumped out at me. It portrayed her smiling, wearing a giant crown, with stars shooting out of her head. The parent beside me leaned over and whispered disapprovingly, “she must be an only child.”

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What I didn’t say to her then, but I would like to say now is — yup, she is an only kid. And you know what else? I spoil the heck out of her.

It feels good to get that off my chest. I confess to giving my kid (almost) everything her little heart desires. Her happiness is one of my greatest goals in life.

There is definitely a school of thought that believes that giving too much to children will ultimately make them miserable.

At Christmas time, I try to make sure that most of the things she wants are under the tree, at least the things I can afford. When it’s her birthday, we celebrate it on no less than three different occasions — once with her Dad and me, once with her friends and once with extended family. The Easter holidays are always complete with both an indoor and outdoor Easter egg hunt. And her summer is filled with endless fun things like bike rides, lake swimming and campfires.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even get her a puppy.

Does that make me a bad mother? Some might think so. There is definitely a school of thought that believes that giving too much to children will ultimately make them miserable. And to be clear, I’m talking not only about material things. I mean making your kid’s happiness a focus.

Another confession: I was a spoiled child. People who know me well likely won’t find this hard to believe. My parents did, and still do, almost anything that my brother and I ask (or don’t ask for that matter). They have always given us not just what we needed, but what made us feel happy.

When we were a young family, my parents were only in their 20s and didn’t have a lot of money. So instead of taking us on holidays or trips to the amusement park, they would pack a lunch and whisk us off to the local airport to watch the airplanes take off. I still remember eating a cheese sandwich, in awe of the planes zooming over our heads.

In middle school, they would throw us elaborately planned parties with fun themes like “come as you are” where guests had to dress in what they had on when they received the invite.

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Sometimes we had scavenger hunt events throughout the entire neighbourhood. One time, they cleared out the kitchen, table and chairs and all, to make room for a dance party. Of course, my mom was the first to hit the dance floor.

Years later, when we were older and my parents were more established, we did go on those vacations and trips to the amusement park, and that was fun too. But as an adult I realize, it was those special little things that didn’t cost a lot of money that linger in my mind.

Whether we had lots or a little, my parents always made life fun for us kids. If we were bored, they entertained us. When we wanted something, they pretty much always found a way to get it for us. They always had our back and worked hard to make our childhood special.

Sometimes when I see the mountain of presents almost eclipsing our Christmas tree, or when I’m watching my kid blow out the candles on her third consecutive birthday cake, I wonder, is it too much? Am I overdoing it? Am I spoiling her?

And then I remember that can we can never experience enough joy.  If I can help create a happy and fun childhood like the one I had, I don’t think I can go too far wrong. Happiness is contagious. And lately, I’ve been thinking, we can always use a whole lot more of that in this world.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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