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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Overindulgence: Where Do You Draw the Line? (Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

    Both my husband and I agree that we do not want to overindulge our children. We foresee the problems overindulgence can cause.  You eat too much junk food, you become unhealthy. You watch too much television, your brain becomes dull. Moreover, we do not want to cultivate a lifestyle that fosters greediness, narcissism, seeking happiness from external factors, financial irresponsibility, etc.  However, a point of contention rolls in when we cannot agree on where to draw the line. 
    To be fair, we are consistent with each other when it comes to setting limits with junk food intake, tv time, computer/video game time, but when it comes to toys and clothing we are little baffled.  We are not a family who owns ten pairs of jeans for each family member nor do we have mountains of toys in our home.  At times, it still feels a bit much. I would love to come up with some kind of formula or guiding principle to tackle this parenting issue. Furthermore, I would love to hear from you on how you decide how much is too much!


  1. It's very challenging in a world where you are getting targeted marketing with all the information they have captured from the daily routines that you perform. Companies know so much about you and your kids that they know how to get to you and your kids to spend money.
    It also doesn't help when you keep hearing that to help the economy grow, you need to spend. It's the consumer spending that props the economy! What do you do?????

  2. Anonymous: This is very true. The emphasis on consumerism in our culture makes it so much easier to fall into the overindulging pit. However, it is still up to us whether we decide to fall into this pit or not. To answer your question, this is what I suggest.

    Overindulgence is a human behavior and like any other human behavior, there is a purpose; however maladaptive it may be. First, we have to ask ourselves WHY we are doing the overindulging. Here are possible reasons people may overindulge: it makes us feel good, status symbol, give their children the best of everything, the pressure to "keep up with the Joneses," etc. After we figure out the WHY, then we have to ask if we are okay with the WHY or do we want to make a change. If so, take necessary steps to make the change. Thank you for your insightful comment!

  3. I think it is not only how many things we have, but how we perceive our things. Why do we give our son (age seven H/H) 7 pairs of jeans? For us it is to make life easier - less laundry, etc. But we set the example by focusing on time spent together as a family. We cook together, go outside together, play games together, eat together. We must recognise that when we overindulge it is to fill a void. What is missing? And how do we fill up in a healthy and loving way.

  4. Susan: Good point! Our perception is important indeed. I agree that generally speaking, overindulgence is an attempt to fill some kind of void. Gaining insight into this and finding healthier ways to fill this void would be key in empowered parenting. Thank you for your feedback!