Overindulgence occurs with both permissive and authoritarian parents for a variety of reasons. It can stem from guilt so they compensate by spending too much on material things, or from a lack of structure – no rules to follow, no chores to perform. No matter the reason, the result of overindulgence is resentment and difficulties later in life. How Much is Too Much? Raising Likeable, Responsible, Respectful Children from Toddlers to Teens in an Age of Overindulgence (Da Capo Press) by Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson and David Bredehoft is an easy-to-understand guide, supported by science, that helps parents and professionals to not only recognize the problem but provides sound advice.
How Much is Too Much? is not based on the opinions of the authors but rather from 10 research studies through Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn., involving more than 3,500 participants. Regardless of the parenting style they were exposed to, all adults who were overindulged during childhood resented it. While the over-nurture taught them to be helpless and to expect others to do things for them, from the soft-structure they learned how to be irresponsible and they lacked skills, including relationship skills. As adults they feel entitled to more of everything, have trouble finding meaning in times of hardship and are not interested in spiritual growth. They are likely to be ungrateful, unhappy and unable to delay gratification. They may seek fame, wealth and image with no interest in helping others or making the world a better place. We know these are not the outcomes parents intended, but unfortunately overindulgence has become the new normal.
So, when is enough ‘enough?’ How can parents determine if giving, or doing, or allowing something is overindulging? If they can answer a clear “yes” to any one of these four questions outlined in the book, they are overindulging:
– Does the situation hinder the child from doing the tasks that support her development and learning at this age?
– Does the situation give a disproportionate amount of family resources (money, space, time, energy, attention) to one or more of the children?
– Does the situation exist to benefit the adult more than the child?
– Would this situation potentially harm others, society or the planet in some way?
Acting as a gentle guide to help parents identify the problems, the book outlines the risky outcomes of each and suggests sensible ways to resist the behavior – even including recovery suggestions for adults who are working to recover from their own overindulgence as children. Filled with examples, it lets readers know – in a no-blame, no-shame way – why they need to be concerned.
The co-authors of How Much is Too Much? are recognized for their ability to translate raw data and psychological theory into usable, easy-to-understand information for parents and caregivers of children.
Co-author Jean Illsley Clarke, Ph.D., CFLE, is an expert parenting educator and trainer of parent educators who presents workshops across the globe. She has written numerous books, including Self-Esteem: A Family Affair, Time-In: When Time-Out Doesn’t Work, and coauthor of Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children. The earlier book, How Much Is Enough, has been translated into nine languages. She is a nationally certified family life educator, and an internationally certified training and supervising transactional analyst.
Connie Dawson, Ph.D., is a therapist with adoptees and adoptive families. She sees clients at the Attachment Center Northwest in Kirkland, Wash., a facility that specializes in the treatment of children who are adopted following their first parents’ failure to parent adequately, both from the U.S. and internationally. She consults with agencies and treatment facilities, presents workshops, does adoption coaching and teaches for several universities. She also co-authored Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children.
David Bredehoft, Ph.D., L.P., CFLE, is a dynamic sought-after speaker and retired chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Concordia University. He is a licensed psychologist and certified family life educator through the National Council on Family Relations, with 39 years of experience in research and therapy. Named “Certified Family Life Educator of the Year” by the National Council on Family Relations in 2003, Bredehoft has published more than 100 articles for print media and has presented papers at national conventions relating to interests in psychology, parenting and families.
For more information on the book or the authors, please visit: www.overindulgence.info.