Friday, August 8, 2008
Cultivating Contentment- Part 2
WAYS TO GUIDE OUR CHILDREN IN CONTENTMENT
Do you find your children have become “more havers?”
Yesterday we talked about contentment and covetousness. Today I want to share some tips that have helped us curb some of that and encourage a spirit of contentment.
1. WE DON'T NEED THAT. One tip that I learned from a more seasoned mom years ago (thank you Susie!) was to use the simple statement, "We don't need that" and to make that idea part of my thinking.
She pointed out the damage we can do when we give this type of an answer:
“Oh dear, I'd like to buy that, but we just can't afford it. Your daddy just doesn't make enough money. We really need to do without...”
Who will become more contented with that line of thinking? Not us and not them.
Instead, we simply respond: “We don't need that” in our best cheerful, matter of fact way.
Because we don't. : )
Note: It is often helpful to prepare our children before we go into a store so they know our goals going in. We can prepare their hearts with thoughts like: if we work carefully to save our money we can help do this thing daddy wants to do___ or help this person ___. We can talk about how very blessed we are and model a spirit of contentment. This my friends, is a gift to their very souls.
2. THIS IS FROM GOD. WE CAN BE THANKFUL. When it's meal time and food is dished up, it's a great time to let them know that food was provided to them by God. If they are tempted to be picky, here's a chance to sweetly remind them, “No dear, we are thankful. This food came to you directly from God through your mommy and daddy. This is from Him and He wants us to be thankful.”
God has recently convicted me that He really does care that we eat our food with thanksgiving (remember the grumbling Israelites? Their complaints about food really did matter to God, didn't they?). Now, when I sit them down to a healthful but not their favorite idea of a meal I might remind them of that going in- before they are tempted to complain. It makes all the difference for us.
3. WE DO NOT CRY WHEN WE DON'T GET OUR WAY. Don't allow spoiled tears. Some tears are helpful, even healthful, but there are other tears that are not. Spoiled tears reinforce a spirit of discontent and self pity.
What are“spoiled tears?” These are the tears that come because the child is not getting their way. When they are thwarted or told “no” they should not be allowed to indulge in tears. Again, we can gently, but firmly let them know that they are being spoiled (ie. they are crying because they didn't get their way) and they need to stop. Not being spoiled is a rule. Enough said.
4. CULTIVATE A LOVE FOR SIMPLE PLEASURES. I remember my friend Christine saying once, "That's not good taste, that's just expensive taste." We can so easily be snowed by the world. Really it's the simple pleasures that satisfy the best. Cozy blankets under shade trees, splashing in a stream on a hot day, collecting leaves to tape to paper trees, surprising daddy with homemade cookies. Why cultivate expensive tastes?
5. BE A JONATHAN FRIEND. Teach your child to be a Jonathan friend rather than a Saul friend. Teach them to be happy for others when things go well for them.
"'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands'!" The women in the streets sing of David, but what of Jonathan, Saul's oldest and “rightful heir” to the throne? Does he become angry and jealous as Saul does? No.
It's hard to know when Jonathan found out that David would sit on the throne, but we know that Abigail knew of it (1 Samuel 25:30) while David was running from Saul.
Sometimes I am tempted to think that Jonathan was somehow less spiritually qualified than David. But we simply don't see that in Scripture (1 Samuel 14:6). Sometimes our children will be just as qualified- or more "qualified" than others- and yet be overlooked for things. That's okay.
If we guide our children to trust God and desire His glory rather that their own glory we will establishing in them a contentedness that circumstance cannot shake.
Love eliminates covetousness.
“For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not COVET," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." -Romans 13:9-10
May God help us to cultivate contentment in the hearts of our children.
NEXT UP: Starting the homeschool journey and examples of some of our past and present homeschool schedules.
May God richly bless you as you lead little hearts home.
Photo: Tom with his two littlest ones (Hailey is strapped on to the front, Lydia is holding his hand) at the beach in Newport, Oregon.