Monday, May 2, 2016

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Shattering Entitlement In Our Children

The last few weeks I have basically done my best to knock all of us entitled parents down a few notches (myself included). In summary, we all have more than enough, more than we ever deserve, more than the rest of the world has. Yet, we want more, more, more: More clothes, more trips, more luxuries, more everything, more STUFF. But here's the thing: The stuff doesn't matter. It truly doesn't. The stuff doesn't bring happiness at the end of the day, at the end of our lives. Our people do. So, we need to stop holding grudges. Quit valuing stuff over people. Appreciate family and friends. Recognize how blessed we are. Give back to others--we have more than enough!--and be grateful for what we have. Then and only then can we begin to drop the entitlement. If we want to raise grateful children, we have to lead by example. And right now, the overwhelming majority of us are failing. Big time. (Hi. My name is Lindsay. I am failing.).

So, we parents have some changes to make, huh? But along the way, I think we can also focus our efforts on trying to raise grateful children. If you haven't already, I highly recommend reading Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World (i.e., the book this blog miniseries has been centered around). Based on what I read in the book, as well as my own opinions, here are some ways I believe we can start to shatter the entitlement walls in our children: 

(1) Say NO. I think it's natural to want to give our kids more than we had as children. We want to leave them just a little better off. But. I don't think that means they should be spoiled with every new toy nor have every request granted, especially just to keep up with the Jones children (side note: our neighbors are ACTUALLY the Joneses. As in, their last name is Jones. Jones family, please know I am only using the phrase, not specifically referencing your family ;). The author of the book shared that she

...spent my early parenting years trying to give my kids everything because everyone else was. 

Anyone else guilty of this? 

We give our kids more because we think it will make us all feel better, but it actually places a higher value on things than on relationships.   

Yikes. That is hard to read. Hard but true. People are more important than stuff.
(2) Don't give them the world. We are parents. It is our natural instinct to want to make it all better for our children, to take away pain and make life easier. But. As the author says,

The temptation to fix all their problems, ease all their anxiety, give them everything they want, and make life easier is real. But when we do just that, we actually make life in the future a lot harder. 

If we do everything for our children now, they will never learn to be independent, never learn to problem-solve, never learn to make their own way. 

(3) Inspire creativity. I am certain that most parents out there can relate: when I was little, during those hot summer days, my siblings and I headed outside bright and early each morning and had to entertain ourselves. This meant hours of building stick-and-brick forts, creating pinestraw bike trails, going on nature adventures. What it did not mean was hours spent behind a screen. I also didn't have a parent who was constantly have to create my fun for me (thank you, Mom!). I was forced to be creative, to think outside the box, to build my own fun. Were there boring days? Absolutely! But so what.

Our children need to be bored. They need to be sent outside or to their rooms to play. They need to turn over the bag of tricks and find it empty.   

Now, I love being a very hands-on, involved, active momma. I am not one to sit my kiddos on the couch and let them watch cartoon after cartoon, movie after movie. I like scouring Pinterest for fun ideas and putting them to good use with my littles. Because they still want to play with me. One day, this won't be the case. But. Today it is. So, today we play! However, I also now recognize there needs to be a healthy balance of me providing them with fun ideas and them having to create their own fun. Otherwise, 

...too many fun days make the boring ones harder to bear.  

(4) Spend time. Related to the previous point, is something our pastor says all the time in church: Children spell love T.I.M.E. In other words, it is vital that we put down our phones and drop our to-do lists. Knock it off already. Seriously. It is critical that we spend time, real, quality time, with our children. And I'm not talking, spend 10 minutes with them, take pictures, and then post it on social media pretending to be parent of the year. Actually DO it. Both because you want to and because they deserve it. Make them more grateful for your relationship than they are for their stuff.

(5) Model gratitude. Do you remember the fierce desire you felt to be a parent? I do. And now, we must look around and be grateful that we have so many of the things we once yearned for. Some people would do ANYTHING to be in our shoes: to be a parent. So, let's be thankful. Let's  be grateful for our precious kiddos (even when they are driving us nuts ;). Let's be in the moment. Let's see our children, be with our children, appreciate them, and tell them so. Because you know what? They are watching. And learning. Let's help them learn to be thankful for each other and our time together. Let's start now, while they are still young and willing to listen to their parents. :) 

A person's worldview is primarily shaped and is firmly in place by the time someone reaches the age of 13; it is refined through experience during the teen and early adult years; and then it is passed on to others during their adult life.  

(6) Help them help others. As I mentioned in a previous post, according to the author, one of the best ways to shatter entitlement is to gain perspective. One of the best ways to gain perspective is to give back to others. We often look at those around us who have more than us--as do our children ("But Johnny has a new bike!")--but we must also look at those who have less than us--and teach our children to do the same. Now, I think we should do this not as a self-serving gesture--to force ourselves to see all that we have in the midst of those who have less--but to gain a serving heart that finds more value in helping others than getting more. How can we help our children develop such a giving heart? We need to help them discover a

...deep satisfaction in serving and loving people other than ourselves. 

I think that's a good place to start, no? 

Stop giving them STUFF. Give them YOU. Give them your undivided attention. Give them your T.I.M.E. Don't wait too long. NOW is the time. As in, TODAY. What are you waiting for? <3

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing this!