The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children.
~ Edward, Duke of Windsor
His Royal Highness, Prince George of Cambridge, has arrived. Though he’s just a newborn, he’s still a prince and will be treated royally. This is a blessing and, at times, I’m sure he will consider it a curse.
Why? Because though much will be given to him, much will be expected of him — especially how to comport himself. He will be raised as royalty, brought up to graciously assume the duties, responsibilities and obligations of a future king of England.
Though he is a prince, he will not be allowed to do anything he wants. He will not have servants doing for him what he can do for himself. He will not get everything he wants just because he wants it. In short, as a prince he will not be raised to be a spoiled rotten brat.
Contrast that with the typical upbringing of many American kids who are treated as royalty from the day they are born. They are thought of as special. They are treated as exceptional. They are catered to as princes and princesses. What they need takes precedence. What they feel reigns supreme. What they desire becomes paramount. Which all sounds good – until you remember that there are other people in the family, other people in the world, who also have needs, feelings and desires that may conflict with what your “prince” desires.
Raising your kid as a prince by giving him everything he wants is the antithesis of raising a princely kid. How do you know if you’re doing too much for your child? Here are three scenarios that may make you blush:
- If you’re constantly begging your child to take care of his own responsibilities, you’re not raising royalty. When you spend 20 minutes every evening begging your 8-year-old son to take a bath, then, exhausted, resort to bribery, something’s wrong.
- If you’ve become a servant to your “princess,” doing for her what she’s perfectly capable of doing for herself, you’re not raising royalty. When your 9-year-old daughter drops her fork, then complains that she “has no fork,” do you run into the kitchen to get her a new one? If so, something’s wrong.
- If you spend the better part of your day doing stuff to gain the approval of your “royal” offspring, while he doesn’t much care if he’s earning your approval, you’re not raising royalty. When your 10-year-old son is bored, complaining that there’s nothing to do (despite having an abundance of toys, games and digital gizmos) do you feel guilty that you’re not keeping him entertained 24/7? If so, something’s wrong.
Some royalty, like the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty, were noted for taking self-gratification to an extreme. “What I want is what I want. Provide me with it or you’re off to the dungeon.” But today’s royalty, including His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge, are raised to be responsible, accountable, trustworthy, duty-bound, well-functioning people. Don’t you wish that for your child as well?
If you’ve got the financial wherewithal to indulge your offspring with royal accoutrements and princely experiences, go ahead and do so. But don’t forget that the most important aspect of raising a child is making sure he or she grows up to be a caring, competent, compassionate person who will be a well-functioning adult. Neglect this aspect of child rearing and don’t be surprised if your kid is 40 years old, back home in his old bedroom, sleeping till noon, getting high and still blaming you for all his problems.