6 Secrets for Teaching Your Kids Contentment This Christmas
If you think it’s tough to catch a glimpse of Santa at Christmas, try finding contentment.
Your kids want to add “just one more thing” to their wish lists. Nonstop commercials are trying to sell you more stuff. Your neighbours are in a full-on Christmas lights competition. It’s merry madness!
This re-posted article has some great insights. It was originally published on the ministry website of David Ramsay HERE.
We all want to focus more on gratitude and contentment during the holidays, but it’s hard putting that into practice. As a parent, it’s your job to set that tone for your kids. Begin by setting some realistic expectations for Christmas, and then teach them what contentment looks like. We know what you are thinking. That’s easier said than done. And you’re right. But let’s look at some practical ways to make it happen.
Giving is a huge part of Christmas. As parents, we love to see the joy on our kids’ faces as they tear open their gifts. However, you have to consider where you are in your Baby Steps before you begin buying. If you are super-focused on getting out of debt, you may choose to scale back this year.
As tough as that decision might be for you, talk about it openly with your spouse and kids. Start by sitting down with your spouse, setting a budget, and agreeing to stick to it. Once you have your budget on paper, call a family meeting with your kids and begin setting the expectations for Christmas. There’s no need to tell your kids how much you plan to spend. Just let them know that things may look a little different this year while you are working toward your goals.
Here are some other ways to guide your kids to more realistic expectations:
1. Put it on paper. Have your kids create their wish lists. They can simply write their list on a sheet of paper or they could make a collage using pictures from toy catalogues, paper and glue.
2. Tell them what is doable. Look over the lists with your spouse. If there is something on the list that is too expensive, let your child know that it isn’t in the budget this year. The longer they anticipate a PlayStation or playground set, the more disappointed they’ll be if they don’t get it.
3. Make the big choice. If that big item is in your budget this year, explain to your child that choosing something more pricey may mean fewer presents under the tree. This is a good opportunity for them to consider their choices. If they’d rather have more presents under the tree, they might revise their list.
If you are scaling back this year on Christmas spending, then you have a great chance to teach your kids about contentment. “Stuff” is fun, but it won’t make you happy. When a child learns to give to others and not be attached to their stuff, they are filled with a spirit of gratitude. And gratitude leads to contentment. So how do you get there? Here are some ways to teach this to your child:
4. Volunteer. Spend a day with your kids at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or other type of charity. Your kids will see the faces of people who have little. And hopefully they’ll be less likely to complain about the gifts that don’t show up under the tree on Christmas morning.
5. Pass it down. This works best with younger children. Odds are that clothes get passed down. So why not do that with toys? Have the older sibling select a couple of their old toys that they know the younger one likes, wrap them up, and place them under the tree. The younger child will love the presents. Even better, the older child will get to see their little brother or sister’s reaction. This will help them understand the power of giving.
6. Get one. Give one. Encourage contentment while reducing clutter. Tell your child that for every toy they receive, they’ll give one away. They’ll learn to not hold onto their stuff too tightly. But, more importantly, they’ll learn to share.
The most important key to setting expectations and teaching contentment is communication. Talk to your spouse and kids often throughout the holiday season. You might even choose to tell the grandparents, extended family and friends what Christmas is going to look like for your family this year. When everyone knows what to expect, you’ll all have a merrier holiday season.
This is a re-posted article that was originally published on the ministry website of David Ramsay HERE.
With the shockingly tearful news from Ottawa yesterday, fear is making headlines again in Canada and whether or not the incidents today are related to the ISIS terrorists, it still was a terrifying day for our nation. My eldest son who is presently in Law School near the Ottawa core was in lock-down for a good part of his day. When I heard the breaking news a phone call and a number of texts brought assurance to this dad that he was both safe and sound. Take it from me it is easy for fear to rear it’s ugly head.
I hope this following letter from Erik Raymond will be an encouragement to you in raising fearless children in an age of fearfulness.
Dear Fearful and Tearful Parent,
As Christian parents we are called to help our children to think about, interact with, and evaluate current issues from a biblical perspective. Cultivating a Christian worldview is one of the main components of child training.
Besides the news of late, in the last few months ISIS has been increasingly in the news, we have had a few discussions as a family about what has been happening. Our daughter like your child is aware and our children who range in age and maturity need us to appropriately address the concern. So there needs to be thoughtful care given to the details of our discussion. However, it is quite near impossible to tame down the atrocities of ISIS to a general discussion.
Our children have become quite concerned—and with good reason. The barbaric beheadings speak of ancient tribal savagery rather than modern military battles. Most of the conflicts they have heard of have involved airplanes, ships, and soldiers. Now these guys come along with a fearlessness that is only matched by their thirst for blood. Of course our kids are concerned—we are concerned.
In talking with our children who may or may not admit concern, they may even fear about them taking over the world, which my daughter did express. I gave her the following advice.
1. ISIS is a group of very evil and bad people. They don’t love God or want to honour him. This is why they are doing these things (Col. 1:21;Titus 3:3). Remember that this is what comes out of an unbelieving heart. All of us have sinful hearts and need to turn to and trust Jesus (Eph. 2:1-3). Not all of us do the same wicked things as ISIS but we all need a Saviour, we are all suffering from the same problem: sin.
2. The world has a lot of bad guys in it who love to do sinful things for the same reason (John 3:19-20). Even in Canada there are horrible, unspeakable things happening every day (murder, abortion, abuse, etc.). This is because we live in a fallen, broken world (Rom. 1:18-25, cf. #1).
3. This type of thing has been going on throughout history, and even throughout your young life. There have been lots of bad guys and terrorists doing evil things since even before you were a baby.
5. God has given you a Daddy to protect you and I will do it with all of my strength and resolve.
6. The Bible tells us to pray for our leaders and all of those given charge over us that we may lead quiet peaceable lives (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
7. Pray that God would save some members of this terrorist group. Remember the Apostle Paul, he was basically a terrorist, like ISIS, who killed Christians. God saved him and used him very powerfully for the gospel.
8. Pray for the Christians being persecuted. Pray that they would be comforted by the Holy Spirit and that they would be faithful, even if it means unto death.
9. Remember that Jesus is coming back again. He will punish all evil and set up his kingdom and reign forever. He will make all things new and there will be no more tears, suffering or death. There will be no more bad guys there (Rev. 21:1-5).
10. Jesus told us to pray that God’s name would be honored, his kingdom would come, his will would be done (Mt. 6:9-13). Let’s pray for this with confidence and anticipation because we know this day is coming. Maybe even soon!
I hope this is helpful to you and encourages you and your family as you raise fearless world changers in a fearful and ever changing world.
I want to give a special thanks to Thomas Weaver from theresurgence.com for this gut check on how to make your kids hate church. Having kids is likely the biggest responsibility one can take on in this life and sometimes we do it so flippantly.
FIVE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR KIDS HATE CHURCH
1. Make sure your faith is only something you live out in public
Go to church… at least most of the time. Make sure you agree with what you hear the preacher say, and affirm on the way home what was said especially when it has to do with your kids obeying, but let it stop there. Don’t read your Bible at home. The pastor will say everything you need to hear on Sundays. Don’t engage your children in questions they have concerning Jesus and God. Live like you want to live during the week so that your kids can see that duplicity is ok.
2. Pray only in front of people
The only times you need to pray are when your family is over, holiday meals, when someone is sick, and when you want something. Besides that, don’t bother. Your kids will see you pray when other people are watching, no need to do it with them in private.
3. Focus on your morals
Make sure you insist your kids be honest with you. Let them know it is the right thing for them to do, but then feel free to lie in your own life and disregard the need to tell them and others the truth. Get very angry with your children when they say words that are “naughty” and “bad,” but post, read, watch, and say whatever you want on TV, Facebook, and Twitter. Make sure you focus on being a good person. Be ambiguous about what this means.
4. Give financially as long as it doesn’t impede your needs
Make a big deal out of giving at church. Stress to your children the value of tithing, while not giving sacrificially yourself. Allow them to see you spend a ton of money on what you want, while negating your command from Scripture to give sacrificially.
5. Make church community a priority… as long as there is nothing else you want to do
Hey, you are a church-going family, right? I mean, that’s what you tell your friends and family anyways. Make sure you attend on Sundays. As long as you didn’t stay up too late Saturday night. Or your family isn’t having a big barbeque. Or the big game isn’t on. Or this week you just don’t feel like it. Or… I mean, you’re a church-going family, so what’s the big deal?
You are not an accident of birth. God doesn’t have accidents! The fact that you are here at all is the result of divine providence, God’s hand guiding history. The fact that you are called to be a Christian and set apart for God’s great plan, proves again that he is very deliberate with you. Now that you’re living for him, the Lord wants to declare, even to people that come from afar, that he formed you and set you apart.
God gave you a name before you were born. That means that he was involved in shaping your nature, your destiny and your calling, before you were born.
In fact Isaiah 49:1-2 says it clearly. ‘… Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.’
He’s fitted you with the nature you need to fulfil the purpose he has for your life. You were born for the work he has you doing now and the work you will grow into over time. There’s nothing accidental about your life at all. There is purpose in your existence. Even when it seems that nothing much is happening for you, there’s a purpose in it. There are times when he will hide you in the shadow of his hand. He will put you his quiver, like a sharpened arrow awaiting its appointed task and time. Yet even then, when you’re itching to go and wondering why God is working so slowly, you can remember that he’s keeping you close to himself. You’re not in some storeroom somewhere, momentarily forgotten while God attends to more important matters, or helps more important people. No, you’re in his quiver; you’re on his person and carried by him at all times.
Prayer: ‘Father, I know that you have a very deliberate purpose for my future. Shape the nature that you’ve given me into something that really hits the mark for you. And help me to remember that, even in the slow times, you don’t forget me.’
The world can be a cruel place for children. From their earliest years, children pick up messages about their value from their environment. The younger they are the more they rely upon their parents for those clues as to their worth. Charles Cooley gave us the concept of the ‘looking glass self.’ He said that children come to resemble the image that the most important people in their lives have of them. They trust the perceptions of their parents and care-givers. So their behaviour and attitudes will often reflect those perceptions.
If you are a parent, your words to your children and about your children carry great power. Of course, we send out powerful non-verbal signals, too. Through our words and actions, we consciously or unconsciously impress a picture into our children’s minds, an image of who they are and what they have to offer that the big, wide world. When you consider the incredible influence we have in the development of our kids, it should make us rely on God even more.
Matthew 19:14 ‘Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”‘ (NIV)
In His strength, with His wisdom, we can avoid the poison of negative, short-sighted or self-serving words and actions. He can help us to control our actions, especially when we’re under pressure. Above all, when we commit our children to God in daily prayer, we receive his special covering for their minds and hearts. The world can be a cruel place for children, but our God is bigger than this world. He loves children and will protect the little ones entrusted to his care.
Prayer: (for parents) ‘Father in heaven, help me to say positive things to my children today. And to act in the way that shows them how valuable they are to you.’