Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spoiled is what happens to milk

It always makes me sad to hear someone say that I'm spoiling my child by holding him too much, by rocking him at night, by letting him sleep beside me, or by staying home with him. It makes me sad because spoiled is such a rotten word. It means that you have failed, it means that the product is of no use, that it's bad, that it's a waste.  Like that spoiled milk in the refrigerator--it's disgusting and unappealing.

But I don't believe it.  You see, spoiled is what happens to something that has been left alone too long. Something that did not serve its purpose. Something that has been forgotten. Something you didn't care about enough to focus your attention on it.  Something that will never be what it could have become.

And the same is with "spoiled" children.  When we began our journey as parents, I wondered if our high-touch style of parenting would spoil him. And then I thought, "what do I think of when I think of a spoiled child?"  I think of children who have everything they want-- every toy they asked for, never have to help around the home, and can do whatever they please without considering the consequences of those choices.  But I don't think those things are love.  I've never known a child to be spoiled with hugs, kisses, closeness, contact, holding, or cuddles.  In fact, when it comes to what we think of as "spoiling," it's in large part things.  Things that have been used in place of love, time, and attention.

And so, if love be spoils, then I give them. But surely my child will not be forgotten. He will not be tossed aside.  He will not be made useless.  I'm on a personal mission as part of my "have a plan," to spend more time loving, comforting, cuddling, holding, kissing, and being with my child. Maybe, one step at a time, I can help him see that things are not the answer--love and people are.

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