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Spoiling Your Teen Is Ruining Their Life

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With Family Day fresh in my mind, I've been thinking about the way some teenagers are growing up these days. I see these kids all over. They're angry and frustrated, miserable and lost, and it's mainly the fault of their parents who've been letting them down.

These teens are spoiled, overly entitled, self-centered and averse to hard work. They expect to win at everything they try, despite putting in hardly any effort.

teenager new car
(Photo: Fatcamera via Getty Images)

They don't expect any real consequences for their lazy, selfish or bad behaviour, and they focus on the pursuit of comfort and pleasure rather than on creating a meaningful existence for themselves, now and in the future.

Perhaps the parents of these teens have been trying too hard to compensate for the harsh parenting they themselves received. Perhaps they were neglected as children and are so devoid of self-love that they look to their children for their sense of worth. They think that being "nice" will enable them to feel better about themselves.

Unfortunately, spoiling one's children doesn't make anyone in the family feel better. Neither parents nor children benefit from this approach. All it does is foster disconnection, disrespect, even contempt.

Overly "nice" parents are trying too hard to ingratiate themselves with their teens. They're excessively lenient with their children, allowing them to come and go at all hours of the day and night. They tolerate being talked back to with the utmost disrespect.

Their parents have set them up for a life of misery.

These parents demand almost nothing from their teens and instead reward them for ordinary activities that any parent ought to expect from a child; for example, keeping their room clean or doing their homework.

This fails to instill proper values into their children, whose characters are in the process of developing. It risks turning out a bunch of narcissistic, antisocial young adults who expect to laze about and have everything handed to them on a silver platter.

Too-nice parents are trying to please their teens and be their pal instead of guiding them, setting appropriate limits and teaching their children how to be good people in the world who are capable of living good lives.

They're not doing their children any favours, as their parenting style is backfiring, big time. When everything comes too easily and nothing is seen as important, wrong, or forbidden, nothing actually matters anymore.

teen ignoring parent phone
(Photo: Nicholas McComber via Getty Images)

The more these parents spoil their children, the more the kids go off the rails, becoming hedonistic instead of community-minded, lazy instead of imbued with a positive work ethic, and narcissistic instead of considerate toward other people and the world.

Spoiled teens live unhappy lives devoid of meaning. Their sense of self is fragile and unstable and their relationships with adults and peers are shallow and unsatisfying.

The more these "nice" parents spoil their teens by allowing them to do whatever they want, not demanding much of them and depriving them of appropriate consequences for their unacceptable behaviour, the more wretched these kids are.

Without guidance and limits, these young people flail about, seeking more and more external stimulation to compensate for the boredom and emptiness of their self-indulgent, meaningless existence.

We need to stop being their pal and start parenting them.

They amp up the partying, shirk their schoolwork, push their parents away, go off the rails. From being so spoiled, they've become fixated on the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of hard work.

These youth don't understand that what will make them feel better is being more responsible and thoughtful, as opposed to more self-indulgent and impulsive. Their parents have set them up for a life of misery.

If we're to save our teens from their current suffering and from a horribly bleak future, we need to stop being their pal and start parenting them.

It's not enough to love our children; we have to help shape them into people who'll grow up to live rich, satisfying lives filled with meaningful work, activities and relationships.

My new book, Be Kind, Not Nice: How to Stop People-Pleasing, Build Your Confidence and Discover Your Authentic Self is now available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

Sign up here for my free monthly wellness newsletter. March is all about creating success at work. And listen here to my latest podcast with Emily Esfahani Smith on living a meaningful life.

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