Advice from a Supermom!

No, not from me, from Audrey,  the woman behind KaBoogie (I swear, I’m not on her payroll!)

When she sent me the link the guest post she wrote on 4BabyAndMom I couldn’t NOT share it with you.  I count myself lucky if I remember to leave the house with both of Jasper’s shoes and socks without forgetting my purse or cell phone.  Sometimes, when Monday rolls around I am actually RELIEVED because I’ve been home with Jasper three days straight and need the “break” that daycare and my office job provide.   And here is Audrey , mother of SIX who not only stays at home but homeschools. And not only homeschools but manages to find time to run a thriving etsy business and keep her marriage intact and even find sometime for herself.

I found her advice fascinating, particularly the part about responsibility and discipline.  It really made me question how I can instill that same sense of group responsibility into Jasper that Audrey does into her brood, and also how to avoid the  sense of entitlement that so often comes with being an only child.

When a child is your only child and the center of your universe it is a delicate art to instill a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence without crossing the line into spoiled rotten territory!  And I know because I WAS one of those children..

I grew up in a well-off family with a housekeeper, and yes some “chores” in high school, but prior to that I can remember going to a close friend’s house and trying to help them clean.. I’ll never forget the look on their faces when I confessed I didn’t know HOW to use the vacuum! And I wasn’t even an only child – though having one sister 8 years younger it sometimes felt that way.

Jeff and I don’t have the kind of money that my parents did back then, but in so many ways it’s less about the actual financial status and just as much if not more about values and attitudes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this – were you spoiled as a child or not? If so, how do you plan on avoiding the same fate for your child/children? What things do you plan on doing differently or the same as the way you were brought up?

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Lisa says:

What a coincidence! I’m one of six children and we were homeschooled as well (I went to boarding school for two years in high school, though.) My parents separated when I was a baby. My mother was working on obtaining her PhD and my tax protesting father would only work under the counter, so you can probably imagine that we didn’t have much money in those earlier days.

With five siblings and not much to go around, I don’t think my parents could have spoiled any of us even if they had wanted to. They didn’t have the resources or the time. We all definitely grew up with a pack mentality because of that. No one was special, everyone had to pitch in. It made us very close.

We were raised with a keen sense of responsibility. With two very busy parents, the older children were often put in charge of the younger ones. I was born second to last so I didn’t have as much work as my older siblings, but I always knew that my little brother was my responsibility and I looked out for him. We were all very capable, especially the older ones, so my parents felt comfortable leaving us alone with each other. It’s hard to act like an entitled baby when you know you have to take care of someone else.

Instead of paying weekly allowances for chores, everyone had chores that they’d do for nothing. I agree with my mom in that I don’t think it’s the best idea to instill in a child the idea that taking care of your family and home is something that you should get a monetary reward for. You should want to help out because it’s your house and your family, and for no other reason. But because she knew it was important to teach us how to handle finances, my mom would save special jobs for us that we could do outside the realm of normal home maintenance. She also encouraged us to work outside the home. When we were younger, that meant doing stuff like babysitting for family friends. I’ve been babysitting since I was eight, changing diapers and all.

I’m only nineteen and having kids seems a long way off, but I do want a big family some day and I plan to raise my children in much the same way that I was raised. Though unlike my parents, I don’t want to homeschool. Some of my best academic experiences were when I was going to boarding school, and I know it’s because I had friends and teachers who weren’t related to me or family friends.

Kath says:

Nine kids homeschooled? Sounds like a TLC show to me.
I was spoiled indeed when it came to chores, and then I married a man whose immaculate clothes closet made my mother’s eyes pop out of her head when she first met him (we lived in the same college dorm).
One thing my mom was strict about in my childhood was manners (esp table manners), and I am so grateful to her for this now. Thanks for the advice Ariana, and Audrey!

Kaboogie says:

Oh, and lest we forget, for all of our good intentions and efforts, we will screw it up. The woman I heard that from had 9 kids. And she homeschooled them until each of them went to college. My hat’s off to her and to all of you, for sure!

Kaboogie says:

lol! I love that you are all SO different, yet deep down, we all really want the same things. I DO spank my kids, but only for certain offenses, with warning, they know it’s coming. They can opt out by simply changing their attitude quickly. It’s not my first response and we must be careful not to spank just because we’re frustrated and angry. It’s for their offense, not to make us feel powerful.
Homeschooling does provide much more opportunity (you have to work at it like everything else) for social interaction, some weeks it gets to be TOO much interaction. Remember, there’s no talking in school, so it’s not really the place to socialize (IMO of course). As a caveat, I am putting my oldest 4 in a school with 28 kids in it this year. They want to give it a go. Mostly my 15 yr old wants more educational challenge from his also previously homeschooled classmates to be. He wants Air Force Academy and this will help him get it. HS’ing isn’t about a zealous desire to buck “the system”, it’s about the needs of my kids. I’m homeschooling the little ones. We’ll see how the year goes. I want the time with them that the others had, and to give my biz a go. Thanks so much for all of your well put comments, I see we all have more in common than we’d probably ever think! Wish me luck lol!

Jen says:

I was an only child (yes, was, I’ll explain later). My mom and I lived a few different lives – first she was married and very comfortable, later a broke single mom, then middle class again. And now she’s happily married and still middle class. So I can really say I lived it all. Sometimes things were a bit rough, but looking back, it gave me quite an education on living both with and without. And she did an amazing job of exposing me when I could handle it, and shielding me when it would have caused stress at an inappropriate age.

When it comes to your concerns about Jasper being an only child, yes, I’m sure I demonstrate some of the classic traits (I’m pretty darn talkative, and was perhaps a little precocious given how often I was around adults, etc.), but I think the single mom part offsets that a bit. Once I was old enough, it seemed that my mom and I developed more of a partnership, which made it hard to be ‘spoiled rotten.’ And, for the record, we’re incredibly close today. So perhaps Jasper won’t have siblings, but you will likely have an even more amazing relationship with him because of it.

Oh, and as an afterthought, you can never really rule out siblings… My mom tried to get pregnant for years after she remarried. She was told it was not going to happen without a lot of help. A couple of years later my sister showed up on her own. (My mom thought she was going through menopause!) I kept that in mind a lot when I was having issues of my own. A lot of times things are terribly unfair and don’t work out, but sometimes our bodies can shock us.

ariana says:

Lindsay, I don’t know how you got here, but glad you found your way!

Audrey does have a blog:

Thanks for your comment!

Kate says:

okay, well, it’s a moot point but it says “not JUST spanking” Though, I do agree it doesn’t mean she spanks them.

Kate says:

While I agree that there are isolated instances in which homeschooling is successful, the 3 moms I know who homeschool have playtime for kids with their church groups, usually accompanied by their parents. I really think it’s one thing to have your Mom there and to only be exposed to nice, friendly children and another thing to have to roll with the punches (not LITERALLY!) in an ordinary public school. I really think it builds strength of character- it’s okay to be picked on a little, once you move out into the big, bad world, it’s not all sunshine and roses! Anyway, obviously, you did not want this post to be about homeschooling but since you brought it up, I thought I should explain why I feel the way I do about it.

lindsay says:

Don’t know how I found my way here, but had a question.

Does Audrey have a blog about her family? Sounds like she really has her priorities straight and does a great job juggling life. I’m about to have #4 and enjoy hearing stories from big(ger) families – that can hopefully help with mine! :-)

Her post was GREAT! It’s so refreshing to hear someone with values like that. I really agree with what she said about filling your husbands love bank. I think the husband/wife relationship is the priority relationship in a family and THEN it’s the kids. It’s easy to make your children the main focus but your marriage will suffer, and so will your kids.

We are very committed to training our kids. I like the word training because raising good kids doesn’t happen overnight. It’s purposeful, consistent and with discipline. We really stress first time obedience in our house. Which is immediate, with a ‘happy heart’, and done right.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog too. Especially the photoshop tutorials (which is how I think I came across it).

Happy blogging!


Kimberly says:

Oh, and I think she specifically says “(Not spanking)” in her post….
I absolutely believe it is possible (and preferable) to have consistency, structure, and discipline without spanking, leading to very well-mannered, well-behaved kids.

Kimberly says:

That’s a great post she wrote! While I cannot for the life of me imagine having (and managing) SIX children, her tenets of discipline and consistency ring true with my philosophy and that I was raised with.

My parents were also well-off when I was growing up… we lived in beautiful homes (that my dad built) in an incredible area known as a vacation destination. I am the oldest of 3, and while we were “spoiled” in the sense that we had tons of beautiful clothing, homes, a boat, etc. and never wanted for ANYTHING, we were far from being “spoiled brats.” My parents were very consistent and “no” most definitely meant, NO. We weren’t given everything we wanted, and we were expected to pick up after ourselves and help around the house… with no allowance.
My parents backed each other up on discipline decisions, and we were never able to play one off of the other.

I, too, wonder WHO these people have become, who spoil my son and my niece into oblivion… my dad jokingly calls it “paybacks…” and thinks he’s funny. ;)

ariana says:

Kate, thank you for sharing your experiences! I do want to say for the record though that I don’t think she necessarily said she spanks her kids – I mean she’s welcome to, I just don’t want this debate to become about that (since we already had that one!)

Also, in my opinion homeschooling like anything else is what you make of it. My sister briefly dated a boy in highschool who was homeschooled and he was the most brilliant, social, outgoing and TALENTED kid ever because his mother made sure he participated in tons of extracurricular activities to make up for the potential isolation of homeschooling. He was an only child though, obviously with 5 siblings isolation is not an issue :) Plus, I know that many homeschool families regularly do educational activities with other homeschool families as a remedy to that situation as well.

It’s not a choice that I would make, but mostly because I’m too lazy :)

Kate says:

Wow! Audrey sounds pretty amazing, though I must draw the line at homeschooling. I really feel that children deserve to experience the ups and downs of the real world. Perhaps this situation is different- I am really only basing this on the home-schooled children I know, who tend to be insulated and sheltered.

And yay for a mom who’s not afraid to admit she disciplines (and gasp, spanks!) her children.
I could wax on and on about children with a sense of entitlement but mine isn’t due to arrive for another few months. My husband have been discussing this very same issue. I can, however, draw on my own experiences as a child and that of my husband’s.

I also grew up with a housekeeper, in a very “colonial” town in Africa. I was never expected to perform chores and the first time I ever cleaned a toilet was my sophomore year in college! (I didn’t know you were supposed to clean the inside of the bowl too, much to my roommate’s dismay) And even though we were never lacking affection, nice clothes, or toys, I don’t think my sister and I were really spoiled.

My parents were strict disciplinarians (ok, my mom was the disciplinarian; Dad played good cop most of the time but on the odd occasion that he got angry, we knew to watch out ;-) and we knew our place in the presence of adults. Even as a young toddler, I remember my mother would not let my sister get away with not saying “TA” (please/ thank you) when given something.

When my parents had company, we had to make ourselves scarce and we were not to interrupt an adult when they were speaking (you know, the type of child who tugs at her mother’s shirt yelling “mommmy, mommy” while mommy is trying to have an adult conversation). When we had visitors, we were to stand up and politely say hello- I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve greeted who did not look away from the television or put down their video games when I walked in.

Bedtimes were strict. We didn’t have to be asleep at 8 pm but we had to be in our rooms by then.
We didn’t always get the latest “must have” toy (castle greyskull was on many a Christmas wishlist).

I think part of this was possible because my mother stayed at home. I think it’s easy for children to become unruly when they have sitters during the day (especially a Grandma who spoils them rotten) and then have parents trying to over-compensate for their absence. This is in NO WAY a judgment against working mums- it’s become such a necessary part of life today that stay at home mum’s are becoming the minority. I’m only bringing it up because I can see how a working, single mum would be tempted to try to overcompensate out of feelings of guilt.

In my opinion, one of the most important ways a parent can avoid instilling their children with a sense of entitlement is by teaching them how to manage money. I never received an allowance as a child and I still don’t really appreciate the value of money (it’s just always been there when I’ve needed it!) My husband thinks my parents did me a disservice in this regard. He received a weekly (not outrageous) allowance from the time he was very young, in exchange for the completion of his weekly chores. When he wanted to buy a nintendo game and it wasn’t Christmas or Birthday time, he had to use his allowance money. When the standard hockey equipment was not good enough, he had to use his allowance money to upgrade. Though his parents gave him a hand me down car, he was expected to pay for his own gas and insurance, which meant getting a part-time job at 16 (actually, I think he started at 14, not sure how). Anyway, I’m bringing this up because of the blatant differences between our concepts of money management- his parents raised a more independent, less “spoiled” child as a result, I believe.

Sorry this has been such a run-on but this was quite the thought provoker!!

ariana says:

Interesting Grace, you made me realize that I wasn’t entirely spoiled, I too had to do certain chores etc and had a pretty good work ethic when it came to saving money and actually working and saving towards things (I began work at the age of 13) but I really didn’t know how to do the nitty gritty stuff like clean the floors. Maybe because my parents didn’t do it themselves, why would they need to show us how to do it? (and BTW, I am in no way implying that Audrey’s kids are cinderella figures, she made no mention of chores in her article, I’m just inserting my own experience here!)

I think what I was struck by in Audrey’s article is how children in larger families HAVE to learn that they aren’t in control (or be taught as Aundrey seems to have done so well.) It sounds like as you said because you had a large extended family you had a healthy dose of that. We never had or lived near large family so that wasn’t my experience. But also, as a mom who tends to hover and obsess about mothering in general (hello blog!) I fear I already have a tendency to feed into that cycle.

It will be an ongoing challenge for sure..

Grace says:

My parents had/have money, but I definitely didn’t realize it until I was much older. I think that was attributed to a few things:

-As a child, I always had real chores, and if those chores didn’t get done, I didn’t get my allowance.
-As I got older, if there was something more expensive I wanted, I had to save parts of my allowance until I reached a certain percentage of what it cost to get that item. Sometimes they made me save 100% of the cost! Doing that certainly didn’t scar me in the long run. ;)
-I had lots of family near by and my parents were always around other people’s kids. Seeing them dote on and encourage kids who weren’t my siblings made us realize that the world didn’t revolve around us.
-If I ever did something that hurt someone’s feeling and it truly was my fault, they let me know. None of that, “oh, they must had deserved it” silver spoon stuff in our house!

They, of course, saw to our basic needs and we took some pretty fabulous vacations and lived in a nice house, but we definitely were aware that we were to contribute on a daily basis the well-being of our family dynamic.

Now that I’ve given them a grandchild, though, those two are totally different! Who are those spoiling, doting, “my grandkid is perfect!” people and where did my parents go?!