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Monday, September 5, 2011

Too much love may corrupt your child.

Ron and I had a wonderful evening together.  I fixed coconut cream pudding, coffee and we watched TV.  It's always nice being with Ron. 

We both were challenged by an old 1962 movie, The Miracle Worker.  It won two Oscars and 17 other awards and nominations.  It's a fantastic movie about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan.  For those of you that don't know the story of Helen Keller, at 19 months she suffered "an acute congestion of the stomach and brain (probably scarlet fever) which left her deaf and blind.

Losing her hearing at such a young age kept her from doing more than making guttural sounds.  After Alexander Graham Bell suggested that her parents contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, Annie Sullivan was sent to be her tutor.  Annie found her in a terrible state.  At age 9 she was a spoiled wreck.  She ate off every one's plate, pitched temper tantrums and had no respect for anyone or their possessions.  Annie fought to teach Helen outward discipline so she could also teach her the discipline needed in order to learn. 
I sat on the edge of my seat when Annie Sullivan was talking to the parents and said, "Mrs. Keller, I don't think Helen's greatest handicap is deafness or blindness. I think it's your love and pity. All these years you've felt so sorry for her you've kept her like a pet. Well, even a dog you housebreak."   

And later.... "Pity for this tyrant? Is there anything she wants she doesn't get? I'll tell you what I pity... that the sun won't rise and set for her all her life, and every day you're telling her it will. What you and your pity do will destroy her, Captain Keller."

To be fair, my mother has often said..."I guess I just love you too much."  We all understand the great love parents have for their children.  It's that love that carries us through the most difficult times.  But...when that love only gives out and never teaches the child to also give - love then becomes a method of corruption.  Real love will search for the "best" ways to help a child succeed.  Yes, we protect them from harm -but we refuse to protect them from life.  Parents who want the "best" for their child will fight for the right of the child to learn, to be unselfish, to have the discipline to achieve.  Without fighting for those rights for your child --- you condemn them to a life of overindulgence, depression, loneliness and pain. 

After convincing them that she needed two weeks in a nearby cabin - alone with Helen, she was able to break the spoiled nature and help Helen see what discipline would do for her life.  At one point James, Helen's brother was talking to Annie at the cabin window.  Tears came to my eyes when he said... 
"Sooner or later we all give up, don't we?"  (He was trying to convince Annie to give up on Helen.)
Annie:  "Maybe you all do, but it's my idea of the original sin."
James:  "What is?"
Annie:  "Giving Up!"
Annie saw something in Helen that she felt was worth fighting for.  She saw her potential if only she could get through to her.  Annie believed in Helen when her parents didn't.  Her parents only saw Helen as a deformed child, a weakling, a child to be pitied.  Imagine what Helen's life would have been like if Annie hadn't believed in her.

I see this problem all the time.  Parents, teachers, governments, philosophies....everyone wanting to look like a saint and touting "I care"..."I love them so much".  They build elaborate philosophies or programs that give, give, give and ask for nothing in return.  They feed or give to people until they are lazy, overweight, weak, spoiled individuals who don't have a clue about how to have a successful life.  In their warped minds being rich or having everything they want equals some sort of life. 

As we celebrate Labor Day today, I hope someone will join me on the stage and be proud of the entrepreneur, the hard worker, the intelligent, the strict mom and the overachiever!  I'm sick to death of promoting the lazy, spoiled, overindulgent.  It doesn't matter if it's a reality so called star or if it's a lazy person who is capable of work but chooses to take welfare instead.  I don't care if it's a wealthy star or a single mom -if they require nothing of their child - it's wrong.  Like Annie Sullivan, I believe the spoiled life is torturous and as far as I'm concerned it's the worse form of child abuse!

Proper discipline isn't without compassion!  Compassion, understanding and a generous heart should exist in every one's life.  If that compassion or love interferes with determination, hard work, achievement or social graces - then your love and compassion will corrupt the soul.
The best thing we can do for ourselves and for our children is to insist that the only honorable life is one filled with hard work, intelligence and determination!  Even when you make it to the top, there is still more work to do.  If you are privileged enough to have a lot of money - then get busy working to set up businesses so others can work.  Don't selfishly blow $500,000 on a wedding that won't be remembered 5 years down the road.  Don't selfishly blow $50,000 on some classic car to collect dust in your garage or another $1,500 on one meal.  Instead use your talents and your money for good.  Get a life!  Going on TV and acting like a spoiled brat, cussing at everyone and thinking the sun rises and set on you....isn't a life.  Get busy and do something important with your life.  Fussing about who kissed who or whose going to go out with you is just stupidity - and unfortunately teaches impressionable teens to be just as spoiled as you are.  The same goes for the average family.  If you are promoting spoiled behavior within your family - you doom your children to a life of sorrow.
Sorry....there are several things I get really fired up about.  Laziness and spoiled behavior ranks near the top with stupidity following close behind.  
So what happened to Helen Keller once she learned a little discipline?  She finished school and graduated from the prestigious Radcliffe College - cum laude - in 1904.  She spent 25 years struggling to learn to speak so others could understand her.  She remained close to Annie for 49 years.  Unfortunately, Annie married a socialist and that influenced Helen politically (so sad). can't deny the great accomplishments she achieved. 
During her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments including the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and election to the Women's Hall of Fame in 1965. She received honorary doctoral degrees from Temple University and Harvard University and from the universities of Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Germany; Delhi, India; and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was also an Honorary Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.  She mastered five languages and wrote 12 books.
It is truly amazing what an individual can do when they refuse to give up, when they are determined to work hard and when they are committed to making a difference in their world!
Have a wonderful Labor Day,
God loves you,


Dr. Par Doanhue said...

What a great post!! Thank God I found you!
I do not believe you can love a child too much! Love is placing the good of another over your own. Helen's parents did not love her too much, they had too much pity and compassion for her and they felt sorry for her and themselves. They over compensated and "spoiled" her. But this is not love! All love is "tough" love, in that you need to discipline and train, as well as show compassion and affection.
Spoiling is not loving! Love does not spoil: love trains a child to be truthful, independent and kind (amoung other similar virtues.) And remember discipline means to follow. So to adequately love a child you must be the person you want them to become, and accept no excuses for mis-behavior either on their part, or yours. (Read more in Messengers in Denim).
Thanks for your great post. I look forward to more!

Debbie Jansen said...

Thank you for those comments! It's hard to get everything in to a short post. You are exactly right about the difference between love and spoiling. It's an important distinction. Unfortunately, many parents use the terminology incorrectly and that's what I was responding to. Thanks again for your comment and I hope to hear from you again.

Ty Lim said...

Thank you for this very insightful and wise article. I'm a father of a 6
and 1 year old.

My parenting philosophy is consistent with the writing here, my challenge is that my wife, their mother, doesn't seem to agree with this philosophy.

I feel she is spoiling our 6 year old son and setting him up to be lazy and ungreatful when he grows up.

I am resentful of this and have been unsuccessful in getting her to understand or agree with this difference between real love and poison love.

I will share this article with her in hopes she will see her parenting differently.

Thank you, Ty