Friday, October 7, 2011

Holiday Attitude is a Parent's Responsibility

Go to any store and you are bombarded by the signs of the upcoming
holiday season. How do you combat the lunacy of the commercialism &
stress of the season? How do you teach your children to not get caught
up in it?

Mashed toes alert! If you are the sensitive type who takes offense
easily, be warned. The following comments are my own opinion and it may
not be one that is shared by others. This is a topic I have been
praying over for quite some time. It is my prayer that others will read
it and be given cause to stop and think about my words. See if any of
it rings true in your heart.

Each year, I read emails or have conversations with other moms who
lament about the stress of the holiday season. These ladies are
familiar with my family's ideas on simplicity and express a desire to
adopt a more simple way in their own families. The primary reason given
for not adopting it is always the same - their kids are so used to
pricey gifts that the kids would not be willing to get more simplistic
gifts. Really? Is that truly the reason? Alright everyone, if you
think you may be getting your toes mashed, now is the time to follow a
suggestion our pastor has given the congregation in past sermons and
tuck your toes under your chairs.

Why do we, as parents, allow our kids to dictate how expensive the gift
giving will be? I see several reasons for this. First, we want to
avoid feeling guilty for not giving our kids everything that they want.
It is much easier to give in to them than to say "no" and listen to
their displeasure. Heaven knows, some kids are quite brutal in letting
their parents know just how angry they are to not get the video game or
other gift they expected. But who's fault is that? Who gave the kids
the idea that they could get away with that? Sadly, the guilt-trip is
extremely effective with single parents who already have guilt issues
after a divorce.

Second reason that I have seen is the parent who wants their child to
have everything they never had when growing up. This is very common.
You hear parents use that same approach in their discipline and
household chores. The most common 2 phrases you hear are that they
don't want to be as strict as their parents were and that they want
their children to be a kid and not have to worry about chores. Problem
with this is those same parents will lament later on when they can't get
their children to help with any tasks that need doing or their child has
become the "ruler of the roost" due to lack of discipline.

The last reason is likely the most common one of all, if we are honest
with ourselves. In our human weakness, we want to be the "good parent"
and we buy our children's affections through giving in to their whims
and fancies. We don't want our child to think harshly of us. We want
them to love us and be happy with our decisions. In doing this, we can
actually be causing them great harm.

Who is the parent? Does not the Lord give us stewardship over the
raising of His children? How many times do we think of the birth of a
child being a blessing from the Lord? Yet, when we are raising these
children we often forget that blessing. Are we honestly doing our
children a great service by catering to their demands? If not the
parents, who then will teach our children that you have to work for what
you have? Who, if not the parents, will teach them to be grateful for
what the Lord has blessed them with? Who, if not the parents, will
teach them the principles of it being better to give than receive? Who,
if not the parents, will teach them how to gracefully accept
disappointment? I tell you in all truth, it is a much harsher lesson to
learn as an adult than it is as a child.

Stress at the holiday season can be greatly diminished when we take a
step back and quit trying to please everyone else. Most especially, it
can be lessened considerably when we stop trying to out-do our gift
giving with our children each holiday & birthday. If we allow our
children to pitch a fit because they didn't get what they wanted, we can
only blame ourselves. Allowing them to display that kind of attitude is
a trained response. We have trained them, through lack of consistent
discipline, that such behavior is acceptable in our eyes.