Spoiling kids rots them
Film star Katherine Heigl can’t help spoiling her adopted daughter Naleigh.
“I’m aware of the fact my child will grow up differently than others but we want her to go to a public school in Utah and work for her first car,” she said in a recent interview.
“This will be tough for me because I like to spoil her. I tend to buy her everything, so I have to restrain myself!”
While not many of us can claim to have the level of Katherine’s movie-star income, there are plenty of parents enjoying tax-free expat lives who can relate to her fears of raising a money-grabbing horror. Who really wants to raise an expat brat?
We’re right to worry says Dr Saliha Afridi, a Dubai-based clinical psychologist who specialises in parenting and is also the director of The Lighthouse Arabia clinic.
“There is very little self-restraint being taught to our children,” says Dr Saliha. “When a family is coming to Dubai, they see they have way more money and can give their child everything they want.”
But this is a dangerous path, Dr Saliha warns: “Have some foresight, think about your system of parenting because if you give, give, give unsystematically, it is going to blow up in your face.
“[Parents] come to me when they have created their own little Frankensteins.” Bekky Britton, a mother of two young children in Dubai is determined not to raise expat brats. Bekky was brought up in Dubai and says that, even when she was younger, her friends were given surprising amounts of cash.
However, as a parent she says she is strict when it
comes to teaching good values to her daughter. “I try to explain to her that she can’t have everything that she asks for and try to explain to her that people are not made of money,” she says.
“We had to earn pocket money and had jobs to do in the house and that will be instilled in my kids.” If you’re worried your little darling is dangerously close to being an expat brat try Dr Saliha’s tips to restore parental bliss:
Define your values
“You have to be anchored in your own values,” she says. “When it comes to technology,” she says giving an example, “you may decide that you cannot keep up with having the newest thing every time something is launched. If something works, use it until it does not work any more.”
Follow the leader
“Children do as you do, not as you say. So, if you want to teach your children responsibility, self-control and balance then you need to make sure you are living it as well,” says Dr Saliha.
Curb the impulse
“Ask yourself, ‘what life lessons and values am I teaching my child if I give them this item right now’?
“Avoid buying it that very moment,” she says. “Instead refer to route values rather than impulsive decisions.”
Just the job
Teenagers can’t get part-time jobs in the UAE, so instead look to other ways to teach value for money.
“There is an economic alternative to everything - so aim to teach your children the value of money creatively and not just through a job,” Dr Saliha says.
“I know the value of money, I never worked [as a child] but I know the value of money because my mum used to lay out our grocery list and take us through it and how she made her decisions.”
Maid to matter
Many families opt for in-home help in the UAE, meaning maids can fill a part-time parent role. Dr Saliha says the onus is on parents to instill their parenting values in their maids. “That child is under the care of either the teacher or the nanny for some portion of the day so we need to make sure that we are all on the same page,” she says.