What Really Spoils Children

When you give to your children abundantly, from a place of pure love, they learn generosity and kindness. When you give to your children from a place of guilt or fear, children learn to buy love. This is an important distinction between two intentions in giving and one reason why people believe that giving to children will “spoil” them. When a parent doesn’t know how to give love freely, they use things outside of themselves to *replace* loving, authentic connection. The results are the “spoiling” of children when the intention isn’t pure and from the heart.

Somehow, in the evolution of humanity, we lost our way. We were told that only bad will come as the result of giving our children an abundant life. Those who were used as the example of this idea seemed to have bad results because of giving to their children. However, the examples were set for us from those who didn’t give true, compassionate, connection-based, love to their children. Instead, they replaced *presence* with presents. They bought their kids things when they couldn’t be there, through replacing themselves with material things in their child’s desperate need for connection.

When a parent tries to buy their child’s love, it is space and time apart from their child that they are really buying. The child is confused by this dynamic and begins to learn that love isn’t an emotional feeling, it is a material experience. The warping of the human condition and the cycle of dysfunction begins when a parent does this. The concept of giving to our children is observed and judged through this common, dysfunctional intention. Parents then become fearful of giving their children an abundant life and children lose out on both connection, presence, and the tools they desire for joy, expansion, and learning.

Giving in itself isn’t what “spoils” children. It isn’t through receiving toys, trips or new clothes that a child learns to expect such gifts, selfishly. It is the intention of the giving that creates healthy expansion or dysfunction within the child. One replaces real love and one enhances it. One “spoils” (which means it hurts the child) and one provides growth, tools, and experience.

Giving in presence, instead of in place of your presence, should be the goal when giving to your children. We live in an abundant world and parents don’t have to deliberately deprive their children in order to teach them that life is hard and they can’t always have everything they want. Children will learn this naturally through discussions about finances and by observing how we deal with money. Many parents do not talk about money, bills or finances with their children. I feel that they are missing a great opportunity for children to learn in a real-life context about how money works, how to save towards a common goal and how to give to others, generously.

Open up your financial life to your children when they show the interest in learning about it. They learn through your relationship with material things, money, spending, giving and saving. You never have to withhold giving or intentionally deprive your children for them to learn the lessons that you wish to teach them. It is through connection, love, and vulnerable discussions about money and materialism that children will remember and learn from the most. If children learn what they live, when you give generously to them and to others, they learn how to be generous. When you withhold to teach a lesson, they learn greed and fear. Live with love, generosity and kindness and the lessons will simply be a side effect of how you live your life. The lessons we wish to pass down to our children are simple when we take responsibility to live authentically and honestly in our intentions with them.




Dayna Martin is an author and speaker who is known as, the UnNanny. She has dedicated her life to educating others through her writing, television appearances and speaking on the topic of facilitating educational freedom for children. Dayna is the most renown voice on the subject of Radical Unschooling and peaceful parenting, worldwide. She educates and empowers people to become self-directed educational facilitators and their children’s partners in life. She inspires parents and educators to let go of learning limits and instead, give freedom for internally motivated learning, peace and freedom to flourish.


  1. Forest Eastwood says

    I had both love and “things”.
    My mother was there, cooked delicious food, did not criticize me.
    She cleaned my room.
    We had little money, but an aunt did and she bought me toys and clothing and took me to restaurants.
    I learned as an adult, that my cousins thought me spoiled.
    I am not certain why, as I liked them all.
    I reared my 3 biological children with no limits on food choices, bought them what I could afford, and cleaned their rooms. Now, my unschooling teen (adopted from Cambodia when she was three) enjoys the same.
    I owe my deep connection to all of them, as well as my grandchildren, to my mother’s love.

  2. Family members and friends have questioned why I spend so much time and energy doing things that they see having little or no value. These things include cooking nutritious meals, being very health conscious in other aspects, breastfeeding, researching many aspects of health and parenting, including my kids in conversations and decisions. There is little that I can say to make them understand and so I hold onto what Gandhi has said,” all I can do is show them a better way”. And so as I go about my daily actions, humbly aware that others can simply learn from the proof that what I do works, I am comfortable and confident in myself and my kids. Those who have eyes to see will see. There is nothing that can ever replace the true love we have to give our kids. When you think it, believe it and do it…you shine 🙂 What I find interesting about one such encounter with my aunt’s and cousins is that they seem to believe it’s OK to let a baby cry it out and not hold them too much but yet when the child gets older- they buy them all kinds of material things. It seems the focus comes down to values and specifically the value of time. I’ve heard many people say ” I don’t have time” in reference to aspects of raising kids. I say, all we have is time…as time is a proven illusion existing only in our collective mind so that we may heal our separation and return to our source.

  3. @Jessie I love your comment.Especially your view on time.This is so true.

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