Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Parenting: Helping Your Kids See Themselves Appropriately

There is one key concept that too many parents these days are neglecting in their parenting. The world (or universe) does not revolve around them. Now I love my kids (and grandkids) with all my heart. I get tears in my eyes everytime I think about how terrific my grown children are and when I have to leave the grandkids and return home.

And we've desired with all our hearts to help our kids develop their gifts, spread their wings and learn to be productive, godly, fulfilled adults. There were of course many years where they were a high priority and we gave them, as we should have, much of our time, love and other resources. There's nothing wrong with that.

However, it's possible that blended into our best intentions and passionate love for our children is the wrong message. They can start to believe if we're not careful that everything, including all of mom and dad's time and energy, should focus on them. In fact, they can subtly start to think that others should also give them the same status and priority wherever they go - school, church, community activities and the like.

What are some of the symptoms? Parents who always give in. It's wonderful to give our children opportunities to develop their skills, interact with others and make decisions and choices. However, some parents let their kids do and have everything they desire. The whole family's schedule and use of resources begin to be determined not by what mom and/or dad think is best but because the child wants to do one more thing, attend one more activity or play one more sport.

A second symptom is extreme selfishness. We're all selfish to some extent but children who think they're overly important and deserve all the attention go to extremes. Whatever they want they get and when they don't get it they throw a fit. Some parents will unwisely let their tantrums go, too, and just brush them off as "that's the way Sean is and how he handles conflict."

A third outcome is when children always have to be asked to do something for others. Now granted most children need to be reminded about chores, helping out and the like but a maturing child should begin to develop some desire to help others if he or she has been groomed to do so.

So how do we help our kids to give as much as get and not become self-centered? One way is to help them learn early on that they don't get everything they want. As I've said in earlier posts you don't need to be an ogre or the wicked witch of the west to do that. Sometimes choices are helpful for children old enough to choose. "You know, Erin, you can pick one of those activities to do this summer. Which one would you like to do?"

For younger kids, we'll simply have to say "no" and lovingly, but firmly, let them know that there's no more discussion about it.

But on an even more positive note, we can start our kids early learning to serve and give to others. We used to do Christmas caroling in our neighborhood when our children were smaller. But what we did was tell them that we weren't going to the neighbors to get anything, but rather we were going to sing for them and take them something. And we did. It was great fun.

When they get their first job, even babysitting or a paper route, require that they put some aside for savings, some for God or the church and some for others. We were really proud when Tim announced after he started making money with his paper route that he was putting aside ten percent to give to church!

As the old saying goes, more is caught than taught. Think about what you might do to help your kids this week, this month , this year to give more away than they take and in the process help them to see themselves in a healthy, godly way.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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