The surest way to ruin your child’s prospects for a happy life is to indulge their every whim, teach them that the world ‘owes them’, cultivate in them a sense of entitlement, under no circumstances allow them to ‘work by the sweat of their brow’ and experience the satisfaction that comes from discipline, sacrifice and a job well done.
In the classic Little Women, Mrs March tells this story to her daughters: ‘Once upon a time there were four girls who had enough to eat and drink and wear, a good many comforts and pleasures, kind friends and parents, yet they were not contented. These girls made many excellent resolutions; but they were constantly saying, “If we only had this,” or “If we could only do that.” So they asked an old woman what spell they could use to make them happy and she said, “When you feel discontented, think over your blessings and be grateful.” They decided to try her advice, and soon were surprised to see how well off they were. One discovered that money couldn’t keep shame and sorrow out of rich people’s houses; another found she was a great deal happier with her youth, health and good spirits than a certain fretful, feeble old lady who couldn’t enjoy her comforts; a third that, disagreeable as it was to help get dinner, it was harder still to have to go begging for it. So they agreed to stop complaining and enjoy the blessings they already possessed.’
The question is: ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?’ The answer is: gratitude!