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.
Christmas, for many, is the happiest time of the year. But, for some people, it can be one of the hardest times of the year.
Maybe it is because they have false expectations. Or maybe it reminds them of a loved one who has died, or a divorce or separation they have been through. Whatever the reason, Christmas is the most dreaded time of the year.
But what is the essential message of Christmas? It is that Immanuel has come to us. “Immanuel” means “God is with us.” We read in Matthew 1:23, ” ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’ ” (NKJV).
Christmas is all about undoing loneliness. The message of Christmas is that you are not alone.
Jesus knew what it was to be lonely. He was probably the loneliest man who ever lived.
Yes, He always had throngs of people around Him, but on that final day, those multitudes were gone. Even His own hand-picked disciples deserted Him. And as He hung on the cross, even God the Father momentarily turned away, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?”
Jesus knows what it is like to be lonely. But He also says to us, “I am with you. I will never leave you or forsake you.” That is the promise to the child of God: you are never alone.
And that is really the essence of the Christian life: God is with us. All other religions essentially say, “Do.” Do this, and maybe you will be more spiritual. . . . Do that, and maybe you will get closer to God.
But Christianity could be summed up in one word: Done. Why? Because God is with us. It is not us doing something through God; it is God living His life through us. It is Immanuel, God is with us.
Without question, one of the most remarkable teachings in the Bible is that Jesus Christ Himself will actually enter and live in the human heart that puts its trust in Him. He said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23 NKJV).
That is an amazing statement when you think about it. Jesus also said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
It is difficult for us in the 21st century to understand the importance of having a meal together, because we are a fast-food culture. We eat on the go, and we are always in a rush.
But in the first century, dinner was the main event of the day. It went on for hours. It was a time to be with friends and family, a time to share the events of the day. It was very significant.
This is what Jesus is saying: “I want to come and have a meal with you. I want to relax with you, and I want you to relax with Me. I want you to bear your heart to Me.”
The message of Christmas is, “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father’ ” (Galatians 4:4–6 NLT).
Abba is the Hebrew equivalent for our contemporary word “Daddy” or “Papa.” The idea behind it is intimacy. This is why Christ came—that we might come into intimacy with God.
But do we want God with us, not just at Christmas, but all year long? We have a choice this Christmas: we can either have God with us, or we can be without God. There really are no other options.
If you put your trust in any human solution to save you, then you will be disillusioned. And even if you put your trust in religion, you only will be let down.
Our only hope is Jesus, Immanuel: God with us and God in us.