a common insult at our house was to be called a spoiled brat. which we got called if we didn’t express enough gratitude. so that’s what i’m thinking of. and how my dad has probably said something to that effect to my mom, or maybe to whoever will listen: that they clearly weren’t hard enough on me, because i’m an ungrateful, spoiled brat. i can see his lip curling now.
I hate this word, and I hate how it frequently gets used by the parents of children that are ‘misbehaving’ or being ‘demanding’.
Because when you’re the parent of a child that’s throwing a tantrum over not getting what they want, or being generally difficult and obnoxious, and you’re getting angry and shouting at them and shaming them and telling them they’re a spoilt brat, how do you think they got that way? A four year old that has learnt to get exactly what they want and refuses anything other than that, hasn’t become that way by him/herself. Children aren’t born spoilt, they don’t come out of the womb that way, it isn’t a part of their DNA, it is something that they have learnt through a lack of proper parenting. And so the anger and cruelty that you hear coming out of parents’ mouths whilst shaming their child for being a way that they have learnt to be under their own parenting, makes me crazy and so mad. Because it’s not a childs fault if they have gotten what they want so far in life, because they are the child, and it’s not their responsibility to set the boundaries for what they can and cannot have, and what oversteps the mark into ‘being spoiled’
Short sidetrack to google and find out what the difference between spoilt and spoiled is….nothing. Apparently Americans (here’s looking at you pocketcanadian) use spoilt, but we brits use both. Who knew? Not me.
The other thing is what does being spoiled actually mean? I guess I googled it because I was thinking about how over here I think we use the word spoilt more in terms of what someone would call a ‘spoilt brat’… someone who is demanding, and refuses to not get exactly what they want when they want. Someone not used to hearing no, and refusing to accept no as a reasonable response. A phrase generally used for kids…so yeah, just ugh to that. It bugs me.
Spoiling somebody isn’t necessarily a bad thing though is it? Saying you want to spoil somebody for their birthday, or because they’ve had a rough go and could use some love and support. Which just makes me think its such a stupid word to use, because doing something like doesn’t make somebody ‘harmed in character because of being treated too leniently or indulgently’, which is the definition google is giving me. I just think it is a dumb fucking phrase.
And finally, the personal bit….My mum in particular likes to tell me and other people about how I’m spoiled. So no shit I hate this word. And yet I have never been one to act in a spoiled way, I’m just not like that. When we were kids we didn’t just get pocket money, I used to work in my parents business, or earn money doing jobs like cutting the grass. We didn’t go without anything that we needed nor plenty of things that we wanted, not because of acting in a spoiled way, but because they were freely given. Private schools were paid for (whether you wanted to go to the local comprehensive with your friends like I did or not), Expensive gifts were given, whether you asked for them or wanted them or liked them or not. And you never said no to them, that was extremely rude and ungrateful. And that’s the thing…it’s a catch 22 with her. Because it doesn’t matter if you don’t want it, or how much you tell her not to, if she decides shes going to give you it (because she’s a narcissist and it makes her look good), you’re getting it. And I’m actually very grateful, and have always been grateful for everything I’ve had from them. I just don’t like the implication that because you are freely given things you never asked for, you’re spoilt.
Finally, (I promise I’m nearly done and will shut up soon), things in our house were given to make everything ‘okay’. I think there was a genuine and very kind and loving desire from my parents that we would never go without anything, but things were also given to placate and guilt you into forgiving and forgetting other things. You weren’t allowed to still be upset if you were given a gift, in fact you would have to show just how grateful you were. For example every single week my dad would bring back gifts for my mum and me from the airport on his flight home. For my mum it was for his own guilt over the women he was sleeping with whilst he was away, or simply to get a peaceful weekend, like the gifts for me were. But as it happened, I was happiest when I was just given a bar of milka chocolate (yum), when I didn’t have to express how grateful I was all the time, and when I could just spend time with my dad guilt free, eating chocolate.