The following was written for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].
Seriously, what do you mean by saying my daughter is spoiled? What does it take for her to earn this title? I ask because it’s something my mother says to me every so often. “You spoil that kid,” or “why do you spoil her so much?”
But I’m confused. What does it mean to spoil my daughter? I think what people mean when they say my daughter is spoiled is that I give her anything she wants. And more than that, I give her everything she wants without any expectations.
Well, if that’s the case, then neither of those statements are true. My daughter doesn’t get everything she wants and she certainly doesn’t get anything without some sort of expectation.
Confession time, though: It’s rare that I tell my daughter “no.” Now, I will excuse myself by reasoning that she really doesn’t ask for much, but the things she asks for, I do my best to make happen.
If I’m going to psychoanalyze myself, I’d say it’s because of our past. I was 18 when I found out I was going to be a father and was 19 when she came out screaming. I made the “wise” decision to drop out of high school before getting my final credit at night school and then accepting a full scholarship to a university in New York.
Being from Toronto, that meant 4 years away from my daughter. Needless to say, it was a tough decision, but I took the scholarship because I knew it would eventually lead me to providing a better life for her. I knew that, but it still hurt like hell when I jumped on that greyhound.
My decision worked out and I’ve been able to become the parent and the provider I set out to be, but the latter took some time. That meant birthdays where I wasn’t able to get her the gift she wanted. Christmas holidays that weren’t very merry. I went years without being able to get her what she wanted because I was building my career.
And she loved me through all of it. She smiled the same smile, was still excited to see me every time I walked through our front door, and she’s been one of the most mentally strong children I know for the way she’s dealt with all she’s been through.
So now that I can get her almost anything she wants, I do. If she asks me for a gold chain for her birthday, she gets it. If she asks for the matching gold Kate Spade watch for Christmas, she gets that, too. It’s not like she’s been a bad kid and doesn’t deserve it, but I know at least part of why I do this is because of our past.
So, am I spoiling her? Your guess is as good as my mom’s. But I’ll keep giving her what she wants as long as she stays a good kid. If the consequences are what they’ve been so far, I think I’ll be okay.