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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Are We Teaching Our Kids About "Stuff?"

It has become known as Black Friday. It's the day after Thanksgiving when so many get up in the middle of the night or don't go to bed at all so they can shop for all the sales. For some it's a holiday tradition while for others a chance to seriously save some money. Who knows if they really save anything but that's their sincere goal in many cases.

And frankly, enjoying family time in a fun, unique way or saving a few dollars both have their merits.  But this year a woman in Los Angeles peppered sprayed ten people in line in front of her so she could be first. Another man experiencing a heart attack was walked over. And a lady grabbed as many two-dollar waffle irons as she could as her pants began to slip down off her bottom.

Sure, these are extreme examples. Not everyone who engaged in Black Friday shopping was so rude or crude. But it's worth considering whether we're sending signals to our family that stuff means more to us than it should. While we may not even shop on Thanksgiving weekend, we can still be teaching things about our possessions that will be harmful in the long run. How might we do that?

First, we may have a habit of always wanting one more thing or the next best one. Companies have a way of coming out with new products within months sometimes of the last one. That's fine but do we always have to have the latest one? If so, we teach our kids that appreciating what we have doesn't matter.

Second, we may tend to get things NOW rather than later. We can't wait, we won't settle for keeping the old one and we fear the embarrassment that others will have something that we don't.  If we're not careful we can subtly teach our families that waiting and saving are not that important. In fact, this perspective can lead to significant credit card debt and overspending.

Third, we may simply talk more about getting than giving. We may help out our token charity, give to the church or serve once a year but giving to others isn't a regular part of our home life.

You get the idea. We don't have to be a Black Friday fanatic or do something wildly absurd or unkind to send all the wrong messages. We teach our families by what we do the most and how we live our lives from day to day.

You want to teach your family members how to keep your "stuff" in perspective? Live your life in a way that it wouldn't matter that much if you lost it all.
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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