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by
Rhonda Robinson

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September 16, 2011 - 3:46 pm

Have you ever noticed that children born to parents without spines often suffer needlessly from overindulgence? It’s a startling epidemic. Overindulgence can come in many forms, from lax bedtimes to finicky eating habits, too much video gaming to an obscene amount of toys — but the outcome is always the same. It creates an entitlement mentality that can last a lifetime.

You can take a tour of this mindset in action anytime after midnight at your local 24-hour grocery store. My first peek at this particular parenting underbelly was after a late night movie. My husband and I stopped to pick up some milk for the next morning. I expected to find the typical sub-culture of teenagers that only come out late at night to roam the store aisles. What I didn’t expect to see were the families.

Moms and Dads with young children were actually out shopping after midnight. I first noticed that there seemed to be a different sound in the air. Rather than the usual chorus of beeps emanating from multiple checkout lanes, the few that were open were drowned out by a symphony of cries mingled with spurts of sugar-induced, high-pitched squeals.

I couldn’t help but notice that the little girl behind me was in the middle of a complete meltdown. In an attempt to calm her down, her mother was promising her the moon with ice cream. On the next register over, a five-year-old little boy with a sheepish grin had succeeded in pushing every button within reach. I couldn’t tell who his parents were; no one else seemed to notice him but me.

When did bedtimes go out of style? Conquering bedtime is one of the first achievement badges young parents earn.

Children haven’t changed over the last millennia. They still come to us naked, toothless, and hungry with a few other very basic needs. Not the least of which is nutritious food and a full night’s sleep. Fail to enforce these two and you’ve got a whole new set of issues that range from real medical problems to a severely distorted perception of entitlement.

A child that feels he is entitled to stay up and play games to all hours of the night is no worse than the adult that drags a tired, screaming toddler shopping in the middle of the night. Both are self-indulgent.

Every generation has their share of headaches they have to deal with. Parents today have to raise their children in a very different world than previous generations. The perils seem to be endless at times. There is little we can do to eradicate from the world child predators, violence, gangs or drugs. But we can give our children a solid foundation to stand on.

Some of the simplest things in life can bring the most joy. A child tucked in bed with a story read aloud may sound like a quaint, old-fashioned ideal. But it is his chance to meet heroes of old, visit exotic places, and soar with eagles.

When you can do all that and have a good night sleep, why go to Wal-Mart?

Rhonda Robinson writes on the social, political and parenting issues currently shaping the American family. She lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Middle Tennessee. www.rhondarobinson.me Follow on twitter @amotherslife
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