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entirely materialistic. The net effect is that they will be powerless to deny themselves their every want, and to miss the pain and suffering that comes with this. In addition, you will have made them weak and built into them a sense that everything should always be fair (dis- cussed momentarily)—and that they are entitled to all that they have—to what previous generations earned—when this is not true of life.

You are also instilling into them, and this is often done by over- praising, that they are “special” and/or “gifted.” This thinking (a plain lack of humility) will make them very difficult or impossible to teach because they will not receive criticism. They will find it diffi- cult, or be completely unable, to admit they are wrong, no matter the offense. They will, however, be well able, and happily willing, to criticize the shortcomings of others.

After a while, such children in effect “own” their parents—and from a young age they realize this. This is because the parents have been more willing to cave in to—even constantly “make” over, if necessary—them than to deal with the exhausting aggravation and hassle of never-ending arguments and whining from the child every time it does not get its way! Ask: How often have you heard, or found yourself exclaiming, “I just can’t deal with them”?

Finally, the children who are the greatest candidates for being spoiled are often the “only child,” or the last born—“the baby”—and particularly the “late life baby” who either came much later than its siblings or after the parents were told that no more children were possible. (But this can also happen with a firstborn child.) When older, and having reached the stage of thinking more like grandpar- ents, such parents often find it difficult to discipline such children, and even more difficult to tell them “no.”

Be on the lookout for the natural tendency—a potential within every parent!—to run a popularity contest with his children and to take the easy path of “smothering” them with the best of everything. (I wish I had a nickel for every time my father reminded me that “I am not running a popularity contest here.”)

Make this a simple equation: spoiling usually equals ruining! Repeat often to your children that they are no better than any- body else, and that the measure of their value and success is solely tied to regular contact with God, strength of character, pursuit of the right goals, willingness to overcome obstacles in their path, real achievement, how much they give versus get, the amount of honor

Where Teaching the Basics Begins


extended to generations that have gone before them, and the volume of effort and sweat expended to earn what they have.

Instill these and other vital, related internal qualities with an un- ceasing relentlessness that your children cannot miss for their impor- tance!

There is no greater parental sin than spoiling children!

Teach Your Children They Cannot Always Have Their Way

Millions of parents now routinely cater to their children. The ways in which they do this are practically endless. It is as though parents feel they must satisfy their child’s every whim—and do this on an almost minute-to-minute basis.

Take just the matter of bedtime. Vast numbers of children, when put to bed, will get up for a host of reasons, offering a cre- ative variety of excuses—“I’m hungry,” “I’m thirsty,” “I can’t sleep,” “I’m scared” (in this case, said as an excuse), “I’m not tired,” “You didn’t read me a story”—and parents are trapped as real prisoners to their children’s inventions about why they do not need to obey their parents—and GO TO SLEEP! Worse, I have ob- served many parents who cannot put their child to sleep unless they take him into the car and drive him around, sometimes for long periods, until he falls asleep. This is costly, time-consuming, fa- tiguing—and ridiculous!

This kind of catering teaches children to grow up expecting to be catered to and sets them up for a rude awakening.

There are some things we just cannot have. Fair or not, that’s life—and your children must comprehend this. However, most par- ents have no idea that they should be instilling into their children even this most basic fact of life.

Try this experiment: The next time you are walking through a supermarket, listen to parents talking to their children (and try to notice if you are seeing and hearing yourself at the same time). Watch how parent and child interact. While it may not be obvious at first, you will notice that the child is getting what he wants and the parent is almost invariably giving in and obeying the child. Today’s children can be seen actually directing their parents.

For instance, a toddler may grab cookies from the shelf while his mother is pushing the cart down the aisle. When the mother takes the cookies and returns them to the shelf, the child often explodes into a

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