Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coddling

Ok ladies, are you listening?  There's doing something special for the ones we love, and then there's coddling/spoiling.  Don't mix these up.

I'm not the most social person in the world, but I have one small social gift:  I can pick up personality types pretty quickly. There is a type of woman (men too, but I see it more in women) who loves to sacrifice, and sees that as part of giving and loving.  I have a friend, older woman in her fifties, who is married to a brilliant guy.  He's so brilliant that he hasn't worked in the thirty years they've been married.  Oh, he's held little jobs here and there.  He claims he has all sorts of medical ailments, and I'm sure some of them might even be real, but he has used these over and over again as excuses not to go out there like the rest of us and earn a living.  Rayna, on the other hand, works like a dog. Whether she's sick or well, she's out there every day, bringing home a paycheck.  Benjy, besides his ailments, is also a very large man.  He's about 6'3"  and weighs around 300 lbs. Many of his ailments are undoubtedly related to his weight.  But Rayna cooks for him all the time, makes his favorite meals, fattening as they might be.  She gently tries to introduce him to more veggies and salads, but Benjy is "not ready for them yet."  Coddle, coddle coddle.  They have a great marriage and have raised three delightful sons, who undoubtedly will expect their wives to coddle them as well. We'll see.

Then there's Olivia.  Olivia is in her sixties, and her husband is a Vietnam vet.  He has some major kidney problems but won't be eligible for a transplant until he drops thirty pounds. And yet Olivia continues to cook lots of special meals for the hubby, whatever he likes.  She doesn't like to pressure him, even though a little tough love might save his life.  Recently, I complained to her about how my husband was not a vegetable eater, and she admonished me for not serving him just the meats and starches that he loves.  I told her as gently as I could: I don't believe in raising a spoiled spouse.  She doesn't get it.  Her husband is also in charge of where they go, what they do, etc., and Olivia, not wanting to put any pressure on her fragile husband, goes along with whatever he wants.  

Then finally there is one of my sisters-in-law, Robin.  My nephew is 14 and chubby.  Perhaps that's because Robin only feeds her son what he likes, which is pasta, pasta, pasta.  I recently had their family over for a meal, and I had to cook an entire second meal for my nephew (at Robin's request) because he doesn't eat chicken unless it's done a certain way and only a certain part, and he won't eat vegetables or fruit, and he only likes bread toasted to a certain doneness, and of course he has to have pasta. etc. Then Robin complains about how the other kids tease him because of his "little extra tummy."  And she doesn't push him to do team sports because he's sensitive and she's not sure how well he would fare being in competition with kids who are more athletic than he. Academic competition is fine, because my nephew is very bright and can hold his own.

These women are raising perpetual babies.  They are making the world all shiny and bright and accommodating for their guys, but the problem is, the real world is not very accommodating at all.  One day, these women will not be around to protect them, and these men will be lost.   They are enabling unhealthy food habits and immature, controlling behavior, and each of them views what they are doing as love.

I get crazy when I see stuff like that.  Maybe because I was raised with so much tough love. Don't get me wrong, my parents did a lot of nice things for me, but my treats were special and rare, and I grew to appreciate them.  In our house, you ate what was served, or you didn't eat.  No one ever died from skipping  a meal, my Mom used to say.  My parents cracked the whip in both academics and sports, and I'm grateful to them for that, because I learned how to play with a team, and even though I struggle with my weight as an adult, I think I'm healthier for it. My husband and I will do occasional nice things for each other, but when we get lazy about stuff, neither of us can stand to suffer any fools. 

There is being nice and there is spoiling rotten.  Learn the difference.

2 comments:

SuperRaizy said...

Great post! Love may come from the heart, but it needs to be tempered by common sense.

AJ said...

Great to see you posting again, Webgirl!