Do you always give your kids what they want?
On a couple of occasions over the past year, I have mentioned or referred to anecdotes that we saw while reading through the Little House on the Prairie series with my kids. We are almost to the end of the stories and while a little simplistic and possibly over-romanticized, the books are a great way to develop a love of reading in young children. I have also been struck by the contrast between the 1800’s agrarian family life and modern lifestyles, especially in the United States. Children from that time period rarely went on vacation, typically received new clothes once a year and had extremely limited entertainment options.
Neither time period is necessarily better than the other, Matthew 6 says, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Every time period has positives and negatives, however, having worked with college and high school aged young people for most of the past two decades, I believe that one of the greatest challenges that we face in the contemporary world is how to raise children to be self-sufficient, patient and content in a time when their every want can be solved with money or credit in a relatively short period of time.
Recently, Mrs. Stew purchased a brand-new winter coat for my oldest daughter – who happens to be quite image/fashion conscious for a seven-year old. Our daughter loved the coat and was looking forward to wearing it when the weather grows cold. The coat had been hanging in our closet for only a couple of days when one of our friends called to say that she had a number of clothes to give us, including a winter coat. Our friend has girls slightly older than our children and often sends over bags of clothes after cleaning out their closets.
Mrs. Stew informed our daughter that if a free and perfectly usable coat was coming our way, it did not make sense to purchase a brand new one. Mrs. Stew is in the process of returning the coat to the store.
My daughter took the news well, she likes the clothes that she gets from her friends. However, it was almost harder for Mrs. Stew and I to make even this relatively insignificant fiscal decision because we want our kids to have nice things. This is such a small area of friction, yet our instinct was to use money to prevent our daughter from experiencing even a little bit of disappointment. I cannot imagine the pressure on parents who have the means to solve almost every problem faced by their children with money.
There is a desire on the part of parents to please their children. Christ recognizes this fact in Luke 11:
Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
This is not a bad thing. Pleasing one’s children is one of the great joys in life, however, too much of a good thing can be bad. How often do you say ‘no’ to your children?
Article by Stew
Photo by ant.ronald