Can you really spoil a child?


Last weekend I went to see my 91-year-old grandmother at the home. I thought even if she was sleeping, I just wanted to hold her hand. I walked into the TV room; took the blanket off of her face; she opened her eyes; she didn't know who I was. I reached for her hand anyways, confidently said "I'm Kayla, your granddaughter" (three times). All of a sudden her eyes lit up her face came back to life and she said "MY Kayla" with more enthusiasm then I'd seen in months. She then said "how are you dear" (she never did skip a beat) and we continued on talking for about 20 minutes and even though we had the same conversation in full circle about three times; I couldn't stop staring at her pure beauty. For those 20 (partially lucid) minutes I held her hands; I felt like I was the only person in the whole world. I know she's barley hanging on, half way between spaces. You see, my papa (her husband) passed about six years ago. I know she's waiting to join him. Every day is just another day that she doesn't get to be with him. 

The last few times we have visited this idea of "can you ever spoil a child too much?" comes up. We talked about many things, but she always circled back to my son. She would ask how much we all "spoil" him, but specifically how my mom "spoils" him. She would say "OH my, I bet she spoils him". In mid-conversation she seemed to go somewhere briefly, she came back and said "you know, you can't really spoil a child"; and we resume regular conversation.

As I'm reflecting on our visit, this was actually a common thread throughout my entire childhood. For example: I had chocolate chips for snacks, cheese whiz and crackers for lunch (daily), and blue (no name tomato) soup while drinking milk out of a sippy cup till I was about 7.

Can you ever spoil a child too much?? I want you to let that resonate... I want you to let that sit for a minute...really think about it... close your eyes... take it all in... 

Now I want to make a distinction, this isn't about the more modern physical material-type spoiling.

Her idea of "spoiling" was WAY before wifi, digital music, and binge watching TV.

This was in a time when we spent our summer days outside (and I mean ALL day outside). Along with ironing dishcloths and helping wash walls (for fun). TOGETHER, her and I made cookies, cut paper dolls from Sears catalogues, did puzzles and played cards (like everyday). She was always doing things around the house but I was always part of it.
She was folding laundry; I was playing dress up.
She was making lunch; I was colouring at the table.
She was picking weeds; I was making a bouquet for the kitchen table.

In addition to time, both my grandma and papa, gave an infinity of hugs, kisses, cuddles, rocking to sleep, snacks and water at 9pm in the kitchen (when I knew I should be in bed).

At the end of our visit I could tell she was slipping back into the space between. I said "grandma I should go so you can rest". She grabbed my hand with assertion and said with certainty "I will always love you.” Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked her in the eye and said "I love you too grandma.” This was the last time I saw her.


So, I will stand by her words. You can ask me over and over… “Can you really spoil a child?”
My answer will always be the same. NO, I don't think you can hold a child too much, give a child too much quality time, too many late night kitchen table talks or spoil a child too much. 


In my private practice in Regina, SK, I am passionate about helping mothers find their joy. I offer a free 30 minute in-person consultation to find out if I could be the right support person for you.