Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is it Possible to Recover from being a Crappy Parent?

My children are spoiled.

                                  (Shea in 2010, already with more toys than a baby needs)

And not a cute, "everyone loves them and showers them with gifts" kind of spoiled. We're talking, "expects a toy every time we enter a store" spoiled and "screams like a mad man" otherwise kind of spoiled. It's seriously out of control. It's our fault - totally, completely our fault. So let's break it down, problem and solution, CSI style...

Exhibit A -

At the dentist...Shea is a little nervous....the hygienist says, "If you're a big brave boy you'll get a special prize when you're done!" Shea, "Ok, but make it a spider with a squishy tummy that sticks to the window. That's what I want." Later, she offers him a toothbrush. Shea: "......... I don't like those. Will you get me one that has Buzz Lightyear on it?"

Exhibit B -

At our grocery store, the butcher gives out string cheese to the kids to keep them busy while mom and dad are shopping. He noticed my kids eyeballing him and ran right out with two sticks of cheese. Shea took it, looked at it disgustedly and said, "I'd rather have a cupcake." The butcher laughed and said, "Well, I'm sorry all I have is cheese." Shea: "Well, next time you should probably make one for me."

Exhibit C -

My parents came to visit and we picked them up from the airport. We got in the car, buckled up and Shea looked at his grandma and said, "So did you bring a lot of money so you can take me to the toy store?"

Exhibit D -

Shea saw a Jake and the Neverland Pirates Pirate Ship that cost almost 50.00 and begged for it for MONTHS. We kept telling him that it was a little too expensive for a "just because" purchase and that he would have to wait. For his birthday we took him to Toys R Us and let him buy the pirate ship. We took it home, he played with it for 25 minutes and then said, "Can we go back to Toys R Us and buy that Dinosaur I saw." Us - "No, Shea you just got a very expensive pirate ship toy." Shea - "Well let's take it back then and get the Dinosaur, I'm done with it."

I could go on and on with more stories but as I type them it's getting more and more painful for me to relive these. Why is my kid such a brat? We don't act like that, we certainly model good behavior for him when it comes to receiving gifts and being grateful for things we are given. Where did he learn this behavior and how do I stop it???

Matt and I decided that we need to lay down the law.

 (Jedi Style)

Things need to change around here AND fast. The toy buying is getting crazy. I hereby admit that we use shopping for toys as bribery. We told Shea that if he would STAY in his own bed all night, he would get a gold star and at the end of the month, he can cash the stars in for a trip to the toy store. In theory, this sounds fantastic. In practice, it failed miserably. Yes, he sleeps in his own bed now (but still wakes us up 2-3 times a night demanding that Matt go sleep WITH him in his bunk bed), however we have somehow accrued WAY more toys than the "once a month" stipulation and I'm not exactly sure how that happened. When he's getting a new toy once a week, the gold star incentive loses its luster.

So the problem becomes that WE are in more need of discipline than Shea is. WE need to stop buying toys. Ok....sounds simple. Let's do it. Uh oh... Christmas is coming quickly. Hobby Lobby and Wal Mart already have their Christmas "gear" out and we need to start thinking about our game plan. You can't NOT buy your kids toys for Christmas? Can you.....? We've been juggling this around and trying to think of ways to have a toy-free or at least minimal-toy Christmas. Maybe one toy each and the rest books, movies, clothes... I don't know. We're still planning this out and have plenty of time to think about to suggestions!

And today I had to do what I always said I wouldn't do.... enforce TV rules. My parents had TV rules for us. They blocked certain channels, including Mtv which actually did kill me..... and we weren't allowed to turn the TV on until after dinner. When I became a parent I said, "That sucked! I'm going to let my kids watch TV whenever they want...." I know why my parents did that to us. It made us actually have to be human beings. When the TV is on in my house, my kids are vapid, brainless zombies. I could (and have) screamed FIRE!!!!! at the top of my lungs and received absolutely NO response from them. My mom and I call this the "Piper trance," as all males in the Piper side of the family seem to have the ability to focus so intensely on TV that the world could be ending all around them and they'd be oblivious to it. And the moment I decided to put my foot down was today actually.... when I was trying to teach a homeschool lesson to Shea and he was flopping around and rolling his eyes and being just weird. I asked him what his problem was and he said, "I don't want to do school because I'll miss Doc McStuffins....." THAT.WAS.IT. I  immediately informed him that as of RIGHT NOW, there will be new rules in this house, young man. The TV  doesn't get turned on until 6 pm (if at all). And right now, my kids are actually laughing and playing with each other rather than laying on the couch like zombie blobs.

So here I am, declaring publicly on the internet for the whole world to see, I AM A CRAPPY PARENT! I have let this be my life. I have let my children become this. But I am going to change. WE are going to change. I wonder though, if you can ever recover from this? Will my kids always be ungrateful spoiled little brats?? I really hope not. I hope that we can turn this around in time to prevent any lasting damage. There's plenty of hope for Kellan, but Shea...I'm not too sure. I'll keep you informed of our progress!


  1. I so needed this. Rachel use to see a play therapist and she would give me ideas for rewards and what not for good behavior and she always said to never ever buy her something as a reward...this was hard for me. Rachel has never been the kid who throws fits if she doesnt get a toy at the store and honestly she rarely gets toys, but her behavior has been out of control lately. Our latest battle is her sleeping through the night and not waking me up a gazillion times (yes she is 7 with the sleep schedule of an infant). I created a sticker chart and put it on her door to see and also put the rewards after 7 stickers. She can pick out her own popsicles at the store (I'd buy them anyway), she can play angry birds on my kindle for 30 mins, she can rent a movie, I cant remember what the other options were. Anyhow, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for this. I've been feeling like a crappy parent too.

  2. Awe! I'm flattered. It's hard to admit when you've screwed up your kids, lol. But you and I are NOT the only ones, we're just the only ones who will admit it ;) (and i don't think you are a crappy parent at all!)

  3. Is there anyway you could take Shea somewhere for Christmas instead of getting toys? Like, spend the day somewhere he really wants to go and tell him it's part of his Christmas gift.

    Or, I know this is a stretch, but tell him that he needs to pack up some of his toys and donate them to children who aren't lucky enough to have toys to play with. That Christmas is right around the corner and those children would love to play with the ones he no longer uses. Then he will have more room for new items....Not sure he would buy into that though.

    I don't think you are a crappy mom Nicole! Everyone does things there own way and you never know how it's going to turn out until it's done and over with. I don't think you've permanently damaged them quite yet ;)

  4. I certainly don't think you're a crappy parent! But trust me when I say, If you were to go thru the back closet in my parents house, it would still be full of toys from when we were little. Oh, should I also mention the "boys" just turned 19 and 20 and I'll be 23 this month? lol! My Mom did used to go through our toys, clothes etc. every year and have a yard sale. If there is stuff they don't play with much, giving it away, donating it or selling it won't scar them for life. I do remember when we were little my Mom would reward us for being good at the grocery store with gummy lifesavers in the checkout! :) And of course the occasional McD's happy meal. We literally had an entire toy box of happy meal toys! We also got time limits on the computer, video games and stuff like that, plus being involved in boy scouts/girl scouts and 4-H and doing different community service projects helped us have a sense of how lucky we were and sharing with others. However, I won't pretend we weren't spoiled and I 'suppose we all turned out alright.....for the most part. haha! I've also had an idea for awhile of making teddy bears and taking them to a children's hospital or something. I found the pattern on pinterest but have yet to try it out. Something like that might be a humbling experience for the boys to share with those less fortunate, especially at Christmas time. Good Luck! You guys are doing great, I love reading your blog and facebook page! Love you all and miss you lots!! :)

  5. Awe, thanks you guys! lol. And I actually have thought about those ideas. We usually do something charitable around Christmas time, like Toys for Tots or the Angel tree, but the boys are so young right now they don't fully understand what we are doing or why. But in the future, I'm sure they will and they'll take that with them when they are adults.

    As far as the garage sale thing - happening this weekend! :D The problem was that as I was trying to sort and price things, Shea would sneak out and claim that he was just coming out to tell me he loved me and then I'd catch him sneaking "old" toys back into the house... But one thing that my MIL Sherri told me to do, was to buy a couple bins, divide the toys between them and cycle them out, so they would have one bin of toys for a few months and then when they seemed bored with those, I would put those in storage and bring the other bin out - "new" toys! It does seem to work when you remember to do it.

    And Kayla - we love and miss you too! Hope to make it up to Michigan sometime soon! Shea will frequently ask, "Who's my cousin?" And we'll start naming them and when we say "Adam" he goes - YEAH! That one! I love my cousin Adam! lol