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Anxiety Quest

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Indulgent Parents, by Ray Wm. Smith, Ed.D.

Last night, my wife and I attended the Spokane Symphony’s “Soiree on the Edge” at the Arbor Crest Winery overlooking the Spokane Valley. Their program began with the conductor telling us that we were about to hear the American premier of an opera that Felix Mendelssohn had written when he was 14 years old. The first time “The Uncle from Boston” was performed was for the teenager’s 15th birthday by the best musicians in the kingdom, who Felix’s wealthy father had paid to play it. The opera had been lost until the past few years, and we’re lucky it was found because the Overture was beautiful. The plot however seemed as outlandish as the birthday gift.
When my children were little, they had a few birthdays that were lavish for my budget: Strawberry Shortcake theme with matching tricycle, Chuck E. Cheese’s, and laser tag.
When I turned 15, I received the once per year privilege to choose the menu for supper, which I cannot recall, except dessert was probably homemade ice cream and red velvet cake. In my parents’ defense, probably the only thing I had written of any merit at age 14 might have been a thank you note for a modest birthday gift from another relative on a tight budget.
I heard another story of a wealthy father trying to please his son on his birthday. He asked the young man what he wanted and the son said he wanted a set of golf clubs. His busy father did not play, so he asked the son how many were in a set, and the son told him 14. The father scrambled and delivered the gifts to his surprised son: the deeds to 14 country clubs!
When I hear about such lavish gifts, I wonder what those sons received the next year to top last year’s gift.
I wonder how much is enough, or how such gifts might lead to entitlement or what my parents called “spoiled”.
If you, too, sometimes wonder about parenting limits, then you’re invited to participate in a new program coming soon from the Healthy Counseling Center called Parents As Pastors which will help you make decisions about what’s best for your children. Please give me a call if you have questions at 509.466.6632.

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