Indulge if we can afford it?

What are we teaching our children when we indulge them even if you can afford it?

We can all acknowledge that children today get a lot more than you or I ever did as kids.  We tell ourselves that is because we are wealthier and the communities we live in (our friends and acquaintances) are doing the same.  I would like to take a look at the developmental issues when we indulge

What are we teaching our kids when we indulge them even if we can afford it?

What are we teaching our kids when we indulge them even if we can afford it?

kids more than they need or expose them to “more” than they need to be exposed at their ages.   I am talking about everyday items, such as: should we give our kids a limit of data usage on their cell phones (because, yes they will have a cell phone) or should it be an open line? Should we take them to five star hotels on holidays and should they fly business class when they travel with us?  Should they be getting top of the range, branded goods as young teens?  I want to address what this does to our childrens’ psyche and outlook of life, regardless of whether we can easily afford it or not.

Researchers have found that through indulging our children, we are breeding a generation of youth with narcissistic tendencies.  Teens are growing up with little sense that hard work reaps benefits, with little self-control and greater impulsivity.  Having little self-control has a profound impact on everyday life and affects those around the individual.   Indulgence prevents new skills being learnt, such as decision making, planning, strategizing and taking initiative.  It prevents a generous spirit and a sharing nature.  It increases impulsivity, entitlement, and a lack of drive and initiative.   Research has also shown that in youth who have been indulged the incidence of depression and anxiety in later life is that much higher.  If they have experienced most of life that is good and they haven’t had to set goals and work for them, what is there to look forward to later on?  Are children learning to base their level of happiness on how much stuff they have or do they have self-worth from a sense of their own achievement?  We rob our children of developing their own self-worth if we indulge and we are inadvertently teaching them to value their extrinsic worth more than their intrinsic worth.

My advice as a parent of three teens and a clinical psychologist is to be okay to say “no” and sometimes even if your child is upset.  Talk through the issues with them.  As they grow older they will begin to understand and have a greater sense of who they are in the world and what part do they want to play in their community.


Child Development 2003: 74 (6) : 1581-1593. The culture of affluence: psychological costs of material wealth.

National Council on Family Relations Report – June 2014.  Raising children in an age of overindulgence.