by Kristen Welch
How do we walk in obedience to God and also expect it from our kids? How do we swim upstream against the strong current of excess? We do the same thing in our parenting that we do in our home when we recognize we have too much stuff. We clean house and get rid of it.
A couple of years ago in December, I got behind with all the holiday busyness, and when I finally had a chance to sit down and wrap a couple of Christmas gifts, it was already late in the season.
“Mom, when are you taking us shopping to buy gifts for you and Dad?” one of my kids asked.
“Do you have money to buy gifts?” I asked.
As a part of our family’s economic plan, we give our kids money every month if they complete their assigned chores. After they give a percentage into their savings and tithe, we stress that this money can be spent however they want. When I reminded my daughter of this, she said, “Oh, I wanted to buy a cute Christmas shirt with my money.” Ah, choices.
When I polled my other two kids, they were also short on funds and big on expectations. Now, I didn’t want to rob my kids of the opportunity to give gifts to others. But I also refuse to rob them of the privilege of hard work because that’s when the joy of giving is revealed. I hired them for some jobs around the house, and when they shopped and used their own money, it made all the difference.
If we hand out money freely, most kids will take it, and it won’t take long for them to acquire the habit of keeping their hands out for more. If we require a little sweat and hard work, we are beginning to do away with the “you owe me” mentality.
It’s natural from the beginning of our parenting journey for us to see ourselves as the rescuers and our kids as the rescued. We want to take care of our children.
Part of our job is to reassure our kids that we will be there for them, and we are, but the rest of the job requires that we walk away. Kids will continue to let us rescue them if we continue to rush to their side.
As hard as it may be, we have to let our kids fail. It’s the only way they truly learn how to succeed. Self-sufficiency is as natural as those first baby steps. Don’t be afraid to let them take these steps, and when they fall or fail (they will do both), it’s okay to let them stand back up by themselves. It starts with saying no and following through, and then backing away and letting them learn how to navigate the world on their own.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.