Monday, July 19, 2010

A Parenting Question to Ponder

There has been a hot topic of conversation going on in our home over the last several months. It has come up often and we have actively discussed it as a family.

Is it possible to raise children that aren't spoiled? Does it really matter?

It doesn't take much to look around and realize that family values are changing. There are many people that are doing their best to go against the grain and are attempting to teach their children Godly values, but on the flip side it seems like more and more parents are just throwing in the towel and saying "whatever".

We live in a very affluent neighborhood, though we only lease our home and it's a townhouse/zero lot. Our home is nestled in the back of the subdivision and the kids jokingly refer to it as slumming it when compared to their friends home on the other end of the street. We love it & are amazingly blessed to be living here. Rentals just don't open up in this area very often, so we were extremely thankful when things fell into place for us to call this "our" home.

The majority of the kids in this area have ZERO clue about reality. They don't have any sense of what it means to wait for something, be told no, or have much value for their belongings. A movie AT the theater, is a 2-3 time per week trip....not the 2-3 times per year that our kids are used to. There is no such thing as 2nd hand clothing (but I'm thankful that we find their "castaways" in consignment stores/yard sales!). Family vacations aren't something that you dream about and save for months or years for. There is no such thing as giving up something in order to make it happen. Their passports are full of international travel and their typical "weekend" trips are our DREAM trips! Eating out is their norm, not their special occasion treat. Christmas and birthday gifts don't bring much excitement because they TRULY have everything in the stores!

It isn't the child's fault in most cases that they are spoiled. The majority of the blame lies on the parent. No matter what level of income you may have, no matter if you basically have access to printing your own money, isn't the parent's responsibility to still say no? Just because you TRULY have the money to say YES to everything, it doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. What is it going to be like for these kids when they are adults and real life hits them in the face? How are they going to learn the skills they need? What kind of pressure will be on these kids to have MEGA jobs or to find husbands that can maintain their level of living? Dreaming big and reaching for goals is GREAT, but what if they can't succeed at that level? Then what? What happens if a girl becomes a mother and decides she wants to stay home and her husband isn't a doctor or lawyer? Will she have the first clue how to make it possible? What if a child grows up and wants to be *gasp*...a teacher....a social worker....or any of those noble professions that don't pay nearly enough? What if they start a business that fails. What if their company downsizes?

We've really been looking around and being observant about those around us: in our neighborhood, at church, in the gym, in all of our social and work surroundings. We are struggling to find many parents that seem to be looking at the BIG picture. THEY ARE there, but in the minority.

Just this weekend, we were invited to go swimming at a home in our neighborhood. The home was GORGEOUS beyond belief. It was magazine quality. Let's just put it this way: you wouldn't have to leave that home for ANYTHING or go ANYWHERE for entertainment purposes. I asked some serious questions of the host (a relative of the homeowner). What do the kids have to look forward to or work hard for? How are the kids in social situations? Are they "grounded" or do they have no sense of reality? The answers were as I expected. Another friend of Adriana's, buys high dollar shoes to LOOK at....even if they are too small! Grow thing....too small, totally another. What is it that these parents are trying to accomplish?

That conversation with our neighbor, led us to serious conversations on the way home. These are the questions we asked our kids:

1) Is it REALLY possible to raise grounded children if you are financially blessed? Is it possible for those parents to not get caught up in keeping up with their neighbors. Maybe we can't fault them. Maybe they don't know how to end the cycle.

2) When you are in a home like the one we were in or when you spend time with friends, do you come home feeling "less" than or do you still feel thankful for what you have and blessed to be where God has placed you? Does it make you feel inferior or do you feel like God loves you less?

3) On the flip side, when you are in a home or with someone that doesn't have the things you have or drive through a neighborhood in a lower income bracket, how do you feel? Do you feel sorry for those people? Do you feel BETTER than those people? Do you feel convicted about having pride? Does you heart hurt for them or do you not give them a second glance? Do YOU treat those people any different?

I won't share the details of the answers the kids provided since they were spoken in an open conversation that probably wasn't expected to be shared "with the world". I will admit that some of our answers did make us think about our own attitudes and revealed areas that we personally need to focus on. I do challenge you to have similar conversations with your families or think about the answers you would give if asked the same. I know that we as a family are used to saying "no" and feel deprived at times, but tend to forget about the unbelievable blessings we have. WE ARE ALSO SPOILED! As we try to "flip" contentment as part of our church series a couple of months ago, we are finding that things aren't always what they seem and that our priorities are also misguided. We aren't sure exactly where God is leading our family or what he is asking us in the future, but I'm sure all of these "questions" he is revealing to us has a purpose. We do know that we tend to take things for granted and that is displeasing to God. We do know that we tend to lose focus on what matters most and that also is displeasing. So my question, "is it really possible to raise children that aren't spoiled", is a valid question that needs MUCH work to be able to honestly answer in the way that we desire.

1 comment:

Extraordinary Ordinary Life said...

Wow, definitely something to ponder since I personally don't know anyone that lives like that. I think we are all spoiled beyond belief. I personally feel more sorry for those people than the poor because as the Bible says, "It is more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle" (It may not be the exact quote but you get the idea.) Although, I have to believe that even affluent people have very difficult times in their lives and at some point will need to call on Jesus they just may not be brought to their knees as quickly or as easily.