Ask Caroline

Caroline Manzo tackles questions on spoiled children, gift giving, and handling learning disabilities.

on Jun 13, 2011

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Angie from Ramsey, NJ says: Caroline, how do you keep your kids so grounded and generous when you give them all they need? Like you, we live in a more affluent area in New Jersey. My kids do not want for anything, and I'm struggling with it and worried they won't appreciate what they have. Even things like dance lessons, singing lessons, camps, etc. They just seem to take all these luxuries for granted.

Caroline says: I think that today's parents are losing sight of the simplicity of childhood. What I mean by that is we put our children in every extra curricular program we can think of. You run from dance to gymnastics to hockey to singing lessons, etc, etc, etc. 

It's overload! Children need down time, and they also need to keep themselves busy and motivated by doing simple things; reading a book, playing jump rope on the sidewalk, going outside and playing with the dog. No need for constant entertainment.  

My kids had a great childhood, but they weren't involved in every activity under the sun. They were home a lot and were expected to do chores around the house. They came with us when we dropped clothes and toys off at shelters and we explained to them that others were grateful for receiving things that we had outlived our use for and were prepared to throw away.

As they grew older they each had to go work with their dad so they understood how hard he worked to provide us with the lifestyle we lived. They cleaned garbage pails, swept floors, washed dishes, and even cleaned vomit when necessary. No job was too small. We raised them to respect what they had by showing them the value of hard work and sacrifice.  

Giving your child too much without teaching them how to give of themselves is a mistake. They need to understand and appreciate their blessings.