Kids today: How much is too much?
If you think overindulgence of children by parents today is prevalent, there just may be something to it.
A group of psychologists including Hudsonite David Bredehoft, Ph.D., and colleges Jean Illsley Clark, Ph.D., and Connie Dawson, Ph,D,, have published an updated second edition of “How Much is Enough.” The new book is titled “How Much is Too Much.”
The subtitle suggests it will help, “raising likeable, responsible, respectful children, from toddlers to teens, in an age of overindulgence.”
“The first edition came out in 2004. This is sort of the 10 year anniversary edition that came out on Jan. 7,” said Bredehoft via telephone from South Texas where the recently retired college professor was on a bird watching and warm weather mission.
“In the first edition, we had three studies and sold about 25,000 copies. I was told that is good for this kind of book.”
Bredehoft and his colleagues determined through their work that, while a matter of degree and pattern, overindulgence of children is not a good thing.
Overindulgence has its roots in three basic areas: Too much, money, activity, material things, etc.; over nurturing -- doing too much for the child as children develop best learning certain things at certain times on their own; soft structure which includes no rules, no enforcement of rules, no chores and no responsibility.
Bredenhoft gave a personal example of a parent’s overindulgence by doing too much. A father called me last semester and berated me for giving his 22-year-old son a low grade in a course. I had to tell him I could not talk about the situation without the son’s permission.
So can we be saved doctor?
Bredehoft’s answer is yes, if the parents recognize overindulgence. “The book has lots of tools for what to do,” he said.
A four part test can determine if a parent is engaged in overindulgent behavior. 1) Whatever you are doing, is it for the parent or the child learning a developmental task? 2) Is a disproportionate amount of family resources being spent on one child? 3) Is it for the need of parent or the child? 4) Is there harm to others or the environment?
“The first thing to do is identify one area of overindulgence and target it for change. Work on that first before going on to the next area. One step at a time,” said Bredehoft.
The age of overindulgence may have some dire consequences for the future if the culture doesn’t change.
“In the next decades, the biggest transfer of wealth will take place,” said Bredehoft, “as the Baby Boomers transfer their money to their kids. It’s expected that 70 percent of those kids will blow it in two to three years.”
Bredenhoft, 63, was a psychology professor at Concordia College in St. Paul for 37 years, virtually all his academic career. He is a native of Oklahoma and earned bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Oklahoma in 1973, master’s degrees at the University of Oklahoma in 1974 and a Ph.D. in family social science from the University of Minnesota in 1983.
He moved to Hudson three years ago.