Google+ Authentic Parenting: Bebe Choco And The Spoiled Child (rerun)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bebe Choco And The Spoiled Child (rerun)

I wrote this one way back when we were living in Ivory Coast, it sure brings back memories!

There seems to be a bit of a conflict about what makes a spoiled child.

When - in Belgium - people talk about a spoiled child, they most often are talking about a child that gets a lot of material things (and often is void of parental time or affection) - the 'my super sweet sixteen'-kind of girl or boy (strangely though, this is most often used to designate girls).

Yet, when people warn parents they might be spoiling their child, on the contrary, they are most often talking about affection, attention and time spent with that child. Apparently, parents are spoiling their child when they cosleep, breastfeed on demand and tend to their cries. Or when they practice gentle discipline.

This is quite the paradox, because if we put the two together, then none of the possible behaviors leads to an unspoiled child. Give them attention - they'll be spoiled, devoid them of attention and bathe them in material things - they'll be spoiled just the same.
Must we then deduct that we shall restrict attention and material things? Maybe lock them up in an Ivory tower unti they're 18?

I rather prefer the Ivorian concept of a spoiled child.

Here in Ivory Coast, a 'spoiled child' is called 'un bebe choco' or 'un bebe choc'. But it does not hold the negative connotations 'spoiled' holds in Industrialized countries. A bebe choco is a child who is cared for, happy and healthy and who likes nice things and good food and play. It is not a spoiled child in the sense of 'gone rotten, or bad', yet a well tended to and comfortable kid. 
A spoiled child, in the sense that Westerners use the word, simply doesn't exist here - in the sense that there isn't even a word for it. (among the rich I think there must be some - materially - spoiled children, since they tend to be seriously Westernized, but they are only a very few and the general population has little or no connection to these ultra-rich Africans)

Image: 'The Spoiled Child' by Jean-Baptiste Greuze



  1. I'm happy to call my daughter spoiled by those standards ! You can never spoil a child w/ love , affection, caring & attention !

  2. From now on, I will refer to my children as "mes bebes chocos"! Love it! Jolene =)

  3. Our family's phrase began when my sister and niece were living with us, so the infant had 3-7 caregivers present at any given time. My mother hated the phrase "spoiled" (b/c of its negitive connotation).

    "She's *not* spoiled," my mother said. "She's very well taken care of." And it's stuck.

    When my firstborn was getting, ahem, more attention than someone else thought was necessary, he pick up the baby and said so I could hear, "If you ask me, I think you're well-taken-care-of."

  4. I love this expression and all it stands for. I have never felt that I am spoiling my children by caring for them in this manner by I know that there are many who think I do.


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