I'm not sure who was more excited when I unpacked my latest purchase (a purple bounce castle): me or my 4-year-old daughter. My excitement grew as I realized the castle fit perfectly in the center of my kids' playroom, and I immediately sent pictures of my ecstatic daughter to friends and family. They wasted no time in chiding me for further spoiling my firstborn, and they're not wrong. I do spoil her. She has more toys than she knows what to do with and a closet full of dresses (in my defense, she refuses to wear much else at the moment). Now, while I can already see the look of disgust on your face as you are, I'm sure, imagining an insufferable brat, let me assure you that although she is "spoiled," my daughter is not at all what you're picturing.
I will always want to know where my children are and who they're with. And what better place for them to be than at home? That's why we want to give our kids everything.
It goes without saying that we love our daughter and simply enjoy seeing her happy. Those moments when her face lights up with pure joy take my breath away, and her laugh is my favorite sound in the world. Can I get those looks and that laugh without giving her something? Of course I can. And I do. My husband and I definitely don't give her every single thing she wants or asks for, and we don't reward bad behavior or bribe her with material things. She has rules she has to follow and doesn't have free reign over our house. We know how fortunate we are to be able to give our kids things they want and need, but we don't go overboard. We do, however, probably give them more than we should, but there's one very important reason we do it.
When I was growing up, my parents had to meet and know every single one of my friends and their parents before I was allowed to hang out with them outside of my own home, and getting to decide for myself whether or not I was going to introduce them to my boyfriends was not a luxury that I was afforded. I had no choice. Cell phones weren't a thing yet, so everyone I knew had to call the house (I was mortified on more than one occasion) and there was no hiding who I was talking to. Between that and the fact that I was the only high school senior with a curfew, to my teenage self, my parents were the worst.
It wasn't until I became a parent myself that I realized my parents weren't the worst — they were actually the best. They always knew where I was, who I was with, and that I was safe. Like my own mother, I'm also not a helicopter parent (I like to think my daughter's fierce independence and ability to entertain herself are a testament to that). But I will always want to know where my children are and who they're with. And what better place for them to be than at home? That's why we want to give our kids everything: the toys, the space, and everything else that's within reason. I want our house to be the one that they (and their friends) want to hang out at, because knowing where my children are, who they're with, and that they're all safe will allow me to sleep better at night. And I don't feel guilty about that at all.
I know that I can't keep my daughter under my watchful eye forever (or even every day, for that matter). She plays at school and goes over to her friends' houses sometimes, but for right now, when she's still little, I don't mind spoiling her so that I can keep her close to me. I don't even care about the mess, noise, constant play dates, and yes, judgmental comments from my family and friends. I'm just doing what I have to do as a mom.
My husband and I are also well aware of the monsters we have the ability to create with this, and we're very mindful to keep it in check. In our house, manners are a must and we're not afraid to discipline. After all, we're their parents and not their friends. We teach our daughter to be grateful for what she has, to always share with others, and to be mindful that not everyone is as fortunate. We also teach her that sometimes, the answer is no. She's only 4, so it's a work in progress and she has her moments, but I think we're doing an OK job.
So, yes, you can say that my children are spoiled, because they are, but they'll never be spoiled brats. And I'm more than OK with that.
Editor's Note: This piece was written by a POPSUGAR contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of POPSUGAR Inc. Interested in joining our POPSUGAR Voices network of contributors from around the globe? Click here.