The World Doesn’t Revolve Around Your Child (Or Mine)

 

I’m going to say something that flies in the face of everything our culture stands for:

The world does not revolve around your children.  Or mine.  Or you or me, for that matter.

There, I said it.

I read an article on Friday that really made me think.  This article claimed that modern American children are, as a whole, the most indulged, spoiled children in all of history.  Prince Charming and I were talking about this and we both tended to agree with this statement, but we also recognized that we (the adults) are indulged and spoiled as well.  It’s no wonder that our children are when that is the standard that we have set.  And it certainly is hard not to be self-consumed and over-indugled when everything around us screams “IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU.  GO ON, PLEASE YOURSELF THIS VERY MINUTE.  YOU DESERVE IT”.

(One of my biggest struggles is selfishness and self-consumption, so this post is really just me processing through all of these thoughts swirling in my head.  After all, need this lesson more than ANYONE!)

The trends in parenting are so interesting to me.  Less than 100 years ago the parenting pendulum was more on the “children should be seen and not heard” and border-line neglectful side of the pendulum.  One-hundred years ago, children were expected to work on the family farm or at the family business.  Life didn’t revolve around them, in fact young children were probably sometimes seen as a hindrance to the work that needed to be done.

Fast-forward to 2012, where our society tells us that we aren’t “good parents” if our entire lives don’t revolve around our children. After all, it is our responsibility for ensuring they are happy, smart, and well-adjusted with a room full of toys at 2, a car at age 16, and fully-paid college tuition at 18.

As with everything, there needs to be a balance.  We need to recognize that our children are gifts from God, priceless treasures that should be loved and nurtured, molded with loving discipline and guidance, and showered with our love (not things).

But that doesn’t mean that we need to entertain them for 8 hours of everyday and base everything in our lives around their needs, wants, and desires.  We most certainly need to spend time playing, teaching, and reading to our children but we also need to teach them to be thoughtful of others and outwardly focused.

There’s a problem with this “theory”, however.

We can’t just go on, living life normally in the way society tells us to.  You see, our children get their cues from us.  They model what they see us do.

If we are constantly feeding our own desires, that’s what our kids are going to think is “normal” and “right” to do as adults.  So we need a reality check on our own hearts before we start making any progress towards raising thoughtful children.

The truth of the matter is, the world doesn’t really revolve around us or our children.  It revolves around the sun Son, just as it was created to.  

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”  -Psalm 150:6

God’s mission needs to be our mission and the mission of our families.  Rather than spending all of our time trying to entertain our kids and think of what other ways we can indulge them (and ourselves), we need to be thinking of how we can show our kids what it means to “Love the Lord our God with all our heart and love our neighbors” as Matthew 22 tells us is the greatest command.

 

What are some tangible ways that we can help our children be thoughtful of others, even while living in an indulgent society???

 

Photo credit (prior to the text)

Comments

  1. says

    I have sometimes thought about parenting techniques from 100 years ago, the techniques that produced “The Greatest Generation,” or our grandparents. They must have done some things very right if the majority of them turned out to be hard-working, dedicated individuals who then raised the baby-boomers, where it all kind of went down-hill.

    Anyways, when I think about life on a farm/family business, I think about how kids from a very early age worked side by side their parents, and parents did not cater to their child’s every whim, because business had to be tended to first. Kids had to learn to wait (i.e. the world did not revolve around them). A parent spent a great majority of their day doing laundry, cooking, dishes, sewing, housework, etc. Most people didn’t have electricity still in their houses at this point. So, with that in mind, I actually try to keep myself busy during the day. I don’t wait until nap time or when my kids are asleep for the night to clean or do laundry. I do it when they are awake. Sure cleaning while kids are awake is like brushing your teeth while eating an Oreo (totally stole that), but it shows that my world doesn’t revolve around theirs. I don’t entertain them all day. I ignore my children (note: NOT neglect them) and let them figure out what to do when they are bored.

    Also, we watch very little TV as a whole family, or my husband and I wait until the kids are asleep to watch any movies/TV shows. And my kids often watch educational movies we own, or an animated movie. We don’t have cable (or any basic service, so there is no mindless TV show watching. And I also find it is best, to watch the movie WITH your child when they do watch anything. Makes it feel more like a family event. (Though I’m not saying I always do that, but just feels like that’s the ideal way).

    I think as parents the amount of time we spend engaged in various medias/mediums and how we spend out time and energy will greatly affect how much our child do so too. And when we give small children too many screens, it is teaching a very real message that it is not okay to be bored. It is not okay to not be entertained. We don’t need “entertainment” or constant stimulation. We need to remind ourselves and our children of the beauty of the mundane, or quiet moments, or being bored and figuring out a way to fill it with MEANINGFUL activities.

    • says

      Katelyn, I love everything you said! As I think about Biblical times and how parents raised their children then, it is very similar to how our world looked 100 years ago…the family WORKED together because that is what they had to do to survive. :)

  2. says

    I got a big world map posted on our wall to teach my son, and self, where all of God’s people are- and to think about the bigger picture. I read “The hole in our gospel” recently and this theme came up too regarding our culture and how God would really desire us to be in our world mission field.
    Thanks for reminding me too that I don’t need to buy into the hype and guilt of being all about my kids and a bad mom if they don’t have everything they want.

  3. Ashley S says

    Thank you for this! So wonderful!
    Just yesterday my three year old and I went to Walmart to pick up some snacks for a family whose son is staying at the children’s hospital for a couple of weeks. Some of them happened to be some of his favorite snacks too, which made him upset that they weren’t for him. We talked about how we were obeying God by helping people who are sick. He’s only three so I know it didn’t completely register, but continuing activities such as this will eventually help him understand that we need to always be helping others and not just thinking of ourselves.

  4. says

    I completely agree with this post and this is something my husband and I have really been thinking and praying about lately. We don’t want to go back to the day where kids where “to be seen and not heard” but we also don’t want our children being spoiled like this current generation. For me the hardest part is trying to figure out how to make the change. How to go against the flow of our modern culture. It’s hard to find friends that feel the same way. Most of my friends do not and you go to their houses and the kids have piles and piles of toys. We just don’t do that here at my house. My kids have had a lot of tv time lately (I’m in an overwhelmed mommy rut) but they are also EXTREMELY limited on what they can watch. They also get plenty of play time inside and outside. It’s also hard to stay consistent in this battle. I think it’s definitely worth the fight though.

    Thank you for this post!

  5. Lisa says

    One of the many ways we have taught our only child that the world does not revolve around him has been to help those in need. Not just donate something to charity or volunteer at a food bank, but welcome them into our home. We are a host family for Safe Families for Children (SFFC). Since our son was 2 we have had other children/parents living with us at various times. These have all been children/parents who have come from hard places. We provide a safe, loving, secure environment while they are in crisis. It is a beautiful program based on the biblical principles of hospitality. Each placement has shown us our weakness and has made us kneel at Christ’s feet. Of course we still struggle with everything you mentioned in this post, but volunteering through SFFC has made us go out of our comfort zones and provide a daily tangible lesson for our son in what it means to “lay down our lives and take us our cross.” You should check to see if there is a SFFC branch in your area. The needs are immense and anyone can help. One placement we had was merely being a “family friend.” We did fun activities together and picked him when his mom had a doctor’s appointment or the weather was too bad for her to get on a bus to get him home from school. The rewards have always outweighed the challenges.

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