Indulgent parents

I am often taken aback by what children’s requests parents seem willing to indulge. Take this one.

If I had asked my parents for such a haircut they would almost certainly have refused, although they were quite indulgent parents. They would have viewed it as frivolous. But because of the way I was raised, I would never have dreamed of making such a request in the first place.

To a large extent, how I was parented influenced how I parented my own children. So if my children had made a request for a bizarre haircut, I would have flatly said no. It is not because of the cost or that there is anything fundamentally wrong with such things, which are quite harmless in themselves. It is that I would not have wanted my children to develop an entitlement mentality and think that any and all of their perceived wants should be met.

In many ways, our children were ‘deprived’ when compared to some of their peers. They did not get video games and expensive brand name clothes or the latest toys and gadgets that are massively marketed to children. The idea of getting something to make a fashion statement or simply because their peers had them or to make their peers envious was strongly discouraged. They were even limited to what they could watch on TV and how much so they were also a little deprived when it came to pop culture.

They are now adults and independent and can do anything they want. But I notice that they are unaffected by transient fashions and are judicious about what they do their time and what they buy.


  1. Mattir says

    I might have been tempted to allow the hair cut on the grounds that it’s temporary and amusing, but it would depend on the price of the haircut and would have involved what (to a kid) might seem a ridiculous amount of discussion of social norms, values, financial decisions, and housework. It’s amazing how much learning one can pack into something so silly.

  2. ImaginesABeach says

    Interesting. I would allow my children to get such a haircut (although they would have to save up for it and pay for it themselves). My theory is that they have very little control over their lives so they are mostly allowed to choose how they present themselves to the world, as long as they are neat, clean, and dressed appropriately for the weather. Neither my daughter nor my son pay much attention to fads, and mostly seem to choose clothing based on what is comfortable.

  3. Sunny says

    I agree but I suspect that it is increasingly harder to do. I don’t envy today’s parents.

  4. Frank says

    I agree completely.

    My parents were quite generous with things like birthday and Christmas gifts, but I was “deprived” when it came to pop culture. Television was generally limited to the news, Jeopardy, PBS, and the occasional sporting event. I never had a Nintendo. I’m sure they wouldn’t have countenanced a frivolous haircut like this. As an adult, I am very glad they took this approach.

    That being said, I have to express respect for the artist who did the haircut. Who would have thought that hair could be a medium for portraiture?

  5. Dhorvath, OM says

    I am pretty let down by this post. I am pleased for you that your children continue to make choices which allow you to validate your parenting style, but without some concrete numbers to show that parenting via your style correlates more strongly with adult’s who behave as your children do you are being a little self indulgent. I am only one, versus your two or more children, but I played games, watched all manner of TV, and had wild and crazy hair to boot. Yet as an independent succesful adult my parents tried to play the same card: “We did something well, other parents are indulgent.” It’s tough to imagine that you are both correct.

  6. herewegoagain says

    To me this hairstyle is just something a kid wanted to do to get attention. No big deal.

  7. Mano Singham says

    Actually, I was not being judgmental in my post, or trying not to be anyway, nor imply that there was a ‘correct’ way to parent. My point was how these behaviors are transmitted down from generation to generation.

  8. mnb0 says

    As an experienced teacher I totally agree. Kids who haven’t learned to take no as an answer belong to the most annoying and time-consuming ones. A little discussion of today:

    Kid from another class: can I visit X for a second?
    Me: no. You are disturbing and interrupting my class.
    Kid: but I am asking you politely!

    and this stretched for a couple of minutes, because one of his policies is just not leaving and keep on repeating: “can I visit X for a second?”, hoping that the no will turn into a yes.

    I literally had to push him (he is 17 or something) away.
    What a waste of my time.

    Trust me, it’s close to impossible to teach such egotistical kids some empathy.

    Fortunately I have managed to avoid such pitfalls when raising my son. He did play video games – on the PC only – but I never bought brand name cloths for him.

  9. mnb0 says

    As I explain underneath it is not so important whát you allow and what you forbid, but that you teach you children to take no as an answer.

    As for the transmission, even before my son was born I gave it a long and good thought what to take over from my parents and what to do different.

  10. says

    As long as the kid is otherwise nice to his parents and peers, does his homework, and eats his veggies, I’m completely indifferent to how he cuts his hair and all the rest.

    I don’t have tattoos, but a lot of younger people do. They’re “OK” most of the time. Some are spectacular. Couple of months ago, I saw a guy with a tattoo of his girlfriend’s face on his arm that was an incredibly realistic rendition (I know because she was sitting next to him.) Nice.

    Piercings? OK with me, as long as you keep them free of bacteria. Tongue and genital piercings are a little too “out there” for me, but if I’m not looking at your genitalia, who am I to tell you no?

    But that goddamm wearing your trousers half down your ass showing your underwear? NO WAY!!!! A man has his limits, and that’s mine.

    Every generation’s method of dress/hair/whatever bothers the bejesus out of the parental generation.

    Actually, the statement about the pants/underwear comes from my 25-year-old nephew, not me. I might think it’s stupid and potentially dangerous, but as long as I can’t see your genitalia (with or without piercings) — whatever helps you get laid.

  11. says

    If those kids with their pants halfway down their ass only knew what they were advertising…

    (Spoiler: They’re signalling that they’re available for gay sex, as the penetratee.)

  12. CT says

    a hair cut? really? dude, I save my battles for other things. That hair cut will be grown out in two weeks and the kid will have forgotten it. My kids do whatever they want with their hair, it’s *their* hair. I save “no entitlement” comments for things like buying useless iPads and wearing $200 jeans. Why? because unlike their hair, it’s *my* money that I worked for. Also, spend too much time on the little annoying things that bother you and you’ll run out of steam and arguments on the big things.

  13. anne mariehovgaard says

    You seem to be implying that there is some sort of cause/effect relationship here. Do you have any evidence for that?

    You teach kids to not take no for an answer by first saying no, and then changing your answer to yes when they ask again. Next time, make them ask a few more times before you give in. Keep increasing the time until you say yes and varying it in such a way as to make it unpredictable, but always give in before they give up! It’s not what you say yes or no to, it’s how and when you say it that matters.

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