Joey & Carla Link
At Christmas time, it’s easy for kids to get out of control and their weaknesses of behaviors and self-control to be more apparent. Our phone has been ringing off the hook with people calling with parenting questions. That’s a sure indicator of this. The results at such a joyous time of the year either causes parents to yield and be frustrated with their kids, or parents crack down even more on their kids trying to deal with every behavior that can be the result of too much “me, me, me”, crazy schedules, lots of parties and overdoses of sugar.
While there is always something to work on with our kids, here is one quality that I (Joey) distinctly remembered my mom trying to teach me one Christmas morning. After I had opened several gifts I asked “Are there anymore gifts for me?” What child doesn’t love opening presents, and what parent and grandparent doesn’t love seeing their kids open the treasures they specifically picked out for them? My mom, frustrated with my “how many gifts are for me?” versus “Look what I got!” attitude told me I needed to be content with what I had already gotten and the disappointment that there were no more surprises under the tree for me settled in.
The Apostle Paul talked about contentment in Philippians 4:11-12 where he says,
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry whether living in plenty or in want.”
While this is a tough lesson for all of us to learn, it will help your children in life with a lot of selfish motives and wants if you can find opportunity to teach this principle to them at an early age.
In the world we live in, it’s easy to skip this principle as our kids are so spoiled with all that they have and get to do. It’s called “entitlement”. For kids to learn to be content, they need to be able to look at something they want and say “I don’t have to have that.”
How can you teach this? After reading the verses above to your kids (6 yrs. and up) ask them, questions like what does it mean to have plenty and what does it mean to be in want? Ask them if they have ever truly been in want, and what the difference is between needing something to survive and wanting something for fun. Here are some ideas you could talk about:
- Could we go without eating out for a week to save up money to give to someone in need and be content?
- Could we go without desserts, treats or snacks for a month and put that money in a jar and give it to someone who could use it more than we do?
- Could we stand in front of the ice cream aisle in the grocery store and think about our favorite flavors but not buy it and not whine about it?
- Could you see a toy you really want (name the toy) and be willing to buy that for a friend or sibling and never get to play with it? Would you be content with that?
This is when you want to ask them to really define what “contentment” is. Every night the week before Christmas have each share 3 things they are grateful for at the dinner table. Be sure and praise them when you see them being content.
On Christmas, before anyone opens a gift, ask each child if they will be content with what they are given, and ask them why they should be.