Friday, August 8, 2008

Cultivating Contentment- Part 2


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.


  1. Great posts, Rebecca. We've done much thinking and intentional parenting about this, too. And we say the same thing: "We don't need that."

    I think one of the greatest things my mom taught me was to find joy in the simple pleasures, and we're trying to pass that on to our children, too. Hot cocoa (with marshmallows!) on a cold, blustery day... cozying up under a blanket for extended storytime, a picnic outside on the grass, or on rainy days- on the living room floor!... etc. Those experiences are the things they'll remember for years to come, anyway- not the stuff that might fill their rooms.

    Another thing I have noted is that since we don't watch TV nor get a newspaper (and hence, all those colorful flyers with the latest and greatest toys), our children never even know what they're "missing out" on. :) Everyone else is into these little fads but our children are happily clueless. :)

    Blessings to you and yours today,

  2. Hi Rebecca :) I am a new reader of your blog (a couple of months now) and wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying my visits with you here. Thank you for the way you share!

    This post was just wonderful! Blessings, Q

  3. Thanks Stacy! How encouraging to find that we are on the "same page" with this as well as our standards for books and other things. That's fun.

    Excellent point- we also don't do the TV/ newspaper thing and so our children are not marketed to in the same way as many children are.

    Advertisers spend billions each year to create a lack of contentment in our hearts- as if we need help in that area. : )

    Hi Quinne! Glad to have you here. Thanks so much for your sweet comment.

    Hope you have a blessed weekend!


  4. Again, awesome words of wisdom!! I find that some things I've been doing in some way and others I've not, but they would be a great thing to implement.

    I'd love to link to these two posts. Would that be okay?

    Lots of love,

  5. Thank you Sommer. That would be great! Iron sharpens iron. : )

    Blessings to you!


  6. simple words, lovely words. . . I'm looking forward to cheerfully telling my girls, "We don't need that." Thank you for for the encouragement. Looking forward to more.

  7. I so appreciate your wisdom. There is something so clean and fresh about your blog---thanks!
    I look forward to the upcoming homeschool posts.

  8. What a great post! I am seeing more and more, how my kids don't really need all that they, or I, think they do. It's a lot easier to keep a clean house when they don't have overflowing toy boxes in the playroom. = ) I recently put away 90% of their toys, and they seem to play with and appreciate more the ones that are out.

  9. Wonderful post. I realize that I had a rather simple childhood that lacked expensive pleasures and I am now very thankful for that. If we train our kids to have expensive taste, they may become very discontent spouses if the Lord doesn't provide them with the same standard of living that He's given us. Thanks for the encouragement.

  10. Hi Rebecca,

    It had been awhile since I took a peek at your blog. Boy! Have I been missing out!! You have such gems to share!! Thank you!!

    I look fwd to doing alot more reading here!!! God is using you Mrs. Rebecca!! To GOD be the Glory!! :)

    I'm out of time today. I've been busy catching up on sharing my own God-given gifts. But I am in much need of what you have to offer here.

    Thank you! Keep it up!!

    God bless you all !!

    Sincerely, Kt