Recently, the girls and I went shopping for our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. Several days prior, I shared with them a new rule.
From the middle of November until December 25th, we spend money only on essentials. No new toys, clothes, books, or music. Of course there can be exceptions, but the point of the rule is (1) to learn self-denial and (2) to thank God for providing all we need.
However, no matter how many times we discuss this rule, children 5 & under don’t always get the message, especially when surrounded by Disney princesses.
So, when my three-year-old threw a temper tantrum in the Dollar Tree when I would not buy her Sofia the First crayons, I knew it was time to sit down and talk.
“But, Mama, I need them.”
“No, Cora, honey, you don’t need Sofia crayons; you want them. Today we are shopping for your friend, not you. Remember our rule: Nothing new until after Christmas.”
My child honestly believed she deserved those crayons and that I was being mean for denying them to her. Where would she get such a notion?
Why is a rule like mine necessary?
This time of year every store is mailing out its Christmas Wish Books in hopes that children like ours will circle everything they want Santa to bring: Legos, Doc McStuffins toys, iPods, and tablets. And the truth of the matter: they will get all or most of them.
Because of our disdain for self-denial.
We don’t like to be told no, and we also don’t like saying no to our children. When our daughter does poorly on her college exam, what do we do? We call the school and demand answers from the professor (source)!
We are teaching our children that they deserve everything — new gadgets, good grades, the best jobs: Hard work not required.
But what our children (and many of us, I dare say) haven‘t grasped is that all the trinkets in the world will never satisfy our desire for more. There will always be something newer, shinier, faster that we need.
Not until we are filled with the Spirit and drink the water of life (John 4:13-15) will we know contentment, gratitude, and peace. Only then will we be able to say no to more and yes to Jesus.
So what do we do?
First of all, we teach our children self-denial. Self-denial is one step we can take to help our children cultivate gratitude and contentment.
Denying my girls new things for 6 weeks out of the year is hardly sacrificial, but it’s a start. In this “get-what-you-want-when-you-want-it” culture, we parents need to start saying no when our children ask for more.
I want my daughters to desire Jesus more than Dora, to thirst for the living water more than Sofia, and to hunger for the bread of life more than Doc McStuffins.
How are you teaching your children self-denial today? Are they learning to deny themselves and be content with what they have? Or are you giving them everything (or most of the things) they want?
Do you have a rule like mine, or am I just a meanie?
For other posts on Entitlement.
Blessings to you, sweet Mama,