I grew up on the old, country warning; “You’re gettin’ too big for your britches!” In other words; “You’re starting to think of yourself a little higher than you should be.” As children, this is a common occurrence. After all, a child is used to having life be all about them. From infancy, every need is met and someone is usually always there to take care of them. This is all well and good, but at a certain point in a child’s life they must start to realize that while they can (hopefully) depend on their guardian, many of the “extras” that life often affords them should be earned privileges- not rights.
I’m a mother of two, so I can speak from experience when I say that this is a tough ball to balance sometimes. However, I fully believe that teaching our children to not expect handouts and to earn certain things in life is a Godly and Biblical teaching. The necessities and needs of life should be given without question, but what about all those “extras” that we throw into the mix? For example: new toys/games/electronics, TV/computer time, brand-name clothes as soon as they’re asked for, etc. I think it is fine to give our children gifts from time to time, especially during the holidays, but I believe most of the generation that our children belong to right now are suffering from an extreme case of the “SPOILED ROTTENS”!
Do you wonder why most children now-a-days are not thankful for what they’re given, live in a constant state of personal expectancy, assume that they deserve all that they want, and are willing to do or behave in any way necessary in order to get what they want? It’s because OUR generation (yes, parents- I’m addressing us here) are so willing to dish out the desserts of life as soon as they’re asked for without any kind of earning on the child’s part!
Please, don’t think for a minute I’m judging here; I’ve made so many parenting mistakes that it would shame me and everyone who knew me if I even tried to begin counting. My point in shining a light on this issue is to show that, while I believe raising a child in this way (expecting life to give them whatever they want) is a huge mistake, we can counteract it by starting to instill in our children a sense of responsibility and hard work. Do your kids expect you to always give them what they want? THEN STOP! Have them earn an allowance and pay for something themselves, or maybe they could do chores in exchange for game or TV time. Show them through example and consistency that hard work reaps rewards while laziness reaps want and lack. This is Bible folks:
“Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
(Proverbs 10: 4)
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
But the soul of the diligent is made fat.”
(Proverbs 13: 4)
“Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.”
(Proverbs 6: 6-8)
And one of my personal favorites:
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.”
(2 Thessalonians 3: 7-13)
This is not saying that those who CANNOT work should be forsaken; there are direct instructions for helping those people right in Scripture… but that’s another topic. What the Bible is saying, is that true believers should not expect a handout! God instructs us to work hard for what we need and in order to help others around us. He wants us to enjoy the fruits of our labor, and gifts of generosity and celebration are encouraged! However, training our children that life will give them whatever they want simply because they are who they are- is a mistake and life will greatly disappoint them because of it.
It is not cruel to prepare your children for life and teach them the ways of God… it is the highest form of love you can show them.