Spoiled Kids

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Overindulged Children Among Our Brethren


Overindulged children exist in all religious groups but perhaps more often among our Jewish people.  Jewish parents want to make up for all of the suffering that occurred during their growing up years, those of their parents, and that of their ancestors.  It is possibly an overcompensation for anti-semitism and an attempt to give their youngsters strength to face the hostilities that may await them in their adult years. 

Overindulgence for children does more harm than help. The outcome of the practice creates disappointment, anger and resentment.  The child thus indulged expects the special upbringing with all of the extra attention and goods that he was used to enjoying.

Children thus indulged become over dependent and isolated.  Over dependency has been labeled the “cancer of love.”  Parents who are bottomless cornucopias will protect their child even when the child is wrong.  They may insist that a coach give their child a trophy for a poor performance, which can have lifetime consequences.  The child grown into adulthood puts forth little or no effort to excel, since he or she is surrounded by adulation and lives in a cloud of  magic hallucinatory omnipotence regardless of any exhibition of acceptable performance.  Rejecting flaws of the child and exaggerating his strengths does not ultimately help the youngster to grow into a mentally strong and healthy human being.

Sometimes overindulgence can be a cover for abuse or a substitute for mentoring or nurturing.  Giving a child too much permission too soon is a poor practice. One example is allowing a child to drive before he is sufficiently responsible to do so. Another example is a child who at five years of age is in charge of activities that he is not mature enough to handle.

The overestimated and/or overindulged young persons will make excuses that are shallow and flawed.  They expect total acceptance for unacceptable behavior.  They will be late to class during their high school or later years by insisting they could not find a parking space on time, rather than getting up earlier to meet their schedules.  The teacher of such children is chastised for reprimanding a student for lateness,  for plagiarizing, or for wearing inappropriately provocative clothing.

Children thus overprotected and allowed or not discouraged when they do unacceptable things become self centered and narcissistic and overestimate their ability or their entitlements.  Their characters become distorted. “Normal” and disciplined children are much more bonded to their parents than those where the “sky” is their limit.

Happiness comes from loving parents who understand and nurture their children, who teach them how good it is to have “derach eretz,” to enjoy giving as well as receiving, to appreciate the good things that they have and their accomplishments, to recognize other people's worth as well as their own, and to  follow the ten commandments!


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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