Have you ever spent time trying to undo a wrongdoing?
Truthfully, my husband and I have spent the better part of the last few years trying to undo the damage of not teaching our kids the real value of a dollar. That old adage “money doesn’t grow on trees” tends to slip out of my mouth somewhat regularly these days and it’s often that I have to stop and wonder how I got off on such a bad foot.
The realization began when we started to notice a sense of entitlement creeping into the lives of our children. Asking for ice cream after we’ve already splurged on eating out. An extra costly event when we’re already having fun on vacation. What about the idea that backpacks must be replaced yearly regardless of any absence of wear and tear and beach towels need to be discarded when they’re slightly faded from the sun. The list of requests goes on…
I can point fingers and be frustrated all I want, however I am the one who created this.
And I’m going to be the first one to remind myself that there’s hope in reversing it. Before I say much more, please don’t think our family has remedied the situation, because we still have a distance to go. However, if you’ve been guilty of over-extending your generosity muscle toward your children I’d love for you to know that you’re not alone.
For many years now I’ve been an avid reader of We are THAT Family blogger, Kristen Welch. I’ve journeyed with her from the other side of the screen to get to know her successes and failures in this thing called parenting. Kristen, who is also the founder of Mercy Maternity House Kenya and Fair Trade Friday which provides jobs for women in oppressed nations, has a heart for sharing. She’s been my go-to woman and she doesn’t even know it.
If you follow me on social media I’m sure that you’ve seen some plugs for Kristen’s new book entitled Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned that Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes. Her book tells the story of their own journey through reversing entitlement in their family. It’s complete with successes and failures and promising little lights at the end of the tunnel. Each chapter contains practical steps of change you can work on together as a family, depending on the age of your children, that will help you turn ingratitude back into gratitude. Kristen believes the “cure to our kids wanting more starts with teaching them to be thankful for what they already have.”
What a concept, yes?
So after a lot of chats and modifying a few expectations – and much prayer – transformation slowly began to take place. I saw evidence from it this past weekend when I had my second born at the mall. She’d asked me to take her there so she could “spend some money.” While she had nothing in mind to buy I decided to give in and allow a lesson to take place. I took her to the mall.
If you know Henley, she’s honestly not overly materialistic. She actually thrives on giving things away and sharing whatever she can. But she also doesn’t understand the concept of money and what things cost and how much she should or shouldn’t pay for an item.
I stood back and watched her select her overpriced purchases and said nothing. She carried them to the counter and, after hearing her total, I noticed she hesitated as she counted the money. Henley doesn’t have an issue with counting her money so I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. So I stepped up to the counter to help her complete the transaction and she quickly took her small bag and headed out of the store.
I stayed silent to let her process whatever was going on in her head. And, as I suspected, about twenty minutes later she spoke up. “Mom. I’m going through money too quickly.”
Ok, I wasn’t expecting that.
“These little Shopkin things are such a waste of money. I wanted to tell the lady I changed my mind but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”
I had to stop her right then and there to get down on her level, Mommy to daughter eyes, and tell her that she should never feel the pressure of spending her money on something she didn’t want to buy. That she could always politely tell the clerk that she’d changed her mind.
In the end, Henley had felt pressured to buy something that many of her friends at school had. Even though she felt the conviction to stop the transaction she didn’t know how to proceed. …so she let go of all her money despite her desire to do so.
It was a good lesson for her. A lesson in remembering she doesn’t need to keep up with her friends or give in to the pressures to spend all her money. That she can be grateful right where she stands.
As my husband and I work to balance fun, responsibility, serving and spending we often find ourselves wanting to beat our heads against a wall because it doesn’t seem like it’s sinking in for our children. But it is. Even on the days we think we’re getting nowhere, change is taking place.
Entitlement is an easy thing to come by on this side of the world. We live on a continent that thrives on keeping up with those around us. And because we might not always make the best choices in how we spend our money, our children learn those habits from us. It’s a cycle. But it’s not a cycle we have no control over.
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World continues to minister what Kristen started in me several years ago. And while this isn’t a “how-to” book it truly is a “me-too” book. A reminder that I’m not alone in this and that her words go with me to support and encourage the lifestyle changes we are working toward.
Pick up your copy of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World today, wherever Christian books are sold. I promise. You won’t be disappointed…