When I grew up we had just enough to get by. I'm so glad we weren't rich.

Spa for kids? How lovely.

I read an article (sorry I had it linked but the link no longer works) about St. Patrick's day in 2012, in London, ON, where teenagers set ablaze cars, attacked police officers and firemen for no particular reason. The article is trying to find an explanation why this riot happened. And this is not an isolated case. Another example is the riot after the Stanley Cup finals in Vancouver, BC.

Is this because of violent video games? Because of the prospect of unemployment? Isolation? Generation gap? What is it? Sure, these are all factors but the article argues that the real problem is a spoiled generation of kids. I agree.

Let me quote from the article above:

"Canadians have no natural geopolitical enemies. We live in a country rich in resources and mostly free of earthquakes, floods, volcanoes and other natural disasters. Our country is so vast and naturally wealthy, generous and free, by global standards, that it seems a paradise to most people who don't live here. It really is extraordinary, when you travel just about anywhere, to come home. You are painfully aware, especially for the first few days back, of how extraordinarily well the vast majority of us live, compared to just about everyone else. If Canadians generally are pampered, it stands to reason that our children are even more so and not necessarily by deliberate parental or societal intent. The generation of kids now in their 20s has been given everything, because their parents love them and they want for nothing. But the lack of any hardship can itself become a hardship, morally and spiritually. What middle-class hooligans lack, perhaps, is a hard challenge and the adrenalin that flows from overcoming it. Hence, the false allure of the riot. How naive, smug, insular and dull must a person be to brag, on Facebook or Twitter, of the crime they've just committed? Only someone who lives entirely in a bubble of comfort could be capable of such stupidity."

We must understand that just because some of us can afford to give (almost) everything to our children, we shouldn't. Don't starve them, of course, or anything extreme like that. But working for some posessions, contributing to family life by cooking, cleaning or paying a small percentage of bills can teach valuable lessons for life. When I was in grade 9 I really, and I mean, really wanted a certain kind of bicycle that was too expensive for our family. The solution my parents came up with wasn't to buy the bike using a credit card but this: If I really want the fancy bike, I have to work for it. I wanted the bike badly so I ended up picking sour cherries and raspberries for most part of that summer then we sold the fruits and from that money we bought the bike. I cared for it more than anything else I can remember - raspberry thorns do teach a sense of appreciation.

Nowadays kids expect to get everything, without delay. They feel entitled to everything they want. They want new phones, new clothes, new computers, new bicycles, new, new new. If something breaks they demand an immediate replacement. And the problem is that they will get it. There is no consideration for cost or practicality, needs and wants aren't separated, it's a constant flow of "getting stuff" for nothing in return. They are not very grateful for this either, everything is taken for granted. It's a sad and alarming trend. So please, even for young kids, don't give them everything just because you can or just because they wish for it.

Ever heard of the marshmellow experiment? A 4 year old is left in a room with a marshmelow. If he doesn't eat it for 10 minutes he gets another one. If he eats it then he doesn't get more. Two thirds of kids eat it as soon as they are left alone. The remaining third wait, becuase they understand the concept of delayed gratification, even at such a young age. After a follow up study 15 years later, the ones who didn't eat the marshmellow turned out to be succesful, independent, healthy young adults with a solid plan for life. The rest of them created the house market meltdown by taking up more loans against their houses than they can pay back. This story illustrates that "work" doesn't have to be employment-related work. In this case the 10 minute wait was the "work" these kids had to do to get what they wanted. For four year olds a 10 minute wait for a marshmellow is very hard work, actually.

So when you think that giving everything to your child is the right thing to do - as parental instinct dictates - think again. Do they need it? Do they want it? Did they work for it? What lesson does constant giving teach?