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

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Problems With Too Much

Most of us parents would love to give our kids some of the things we never had. We look forward to providing for our offspring and ultimately helping them to find happiness and fulfillment.

Unfortunately many moms and dads think that giving them pretty much what they want or that everyone else has is the answer. Can I say it simply? It's not.

When kids get too much stuff, attention or an abundance of accolades that are really undeserved the kids don't blossom they bloat. They get weighed down with entitlement, ungratitude and confusion. I've seen a recent situation where the kids continue to get so many gifts from their grandparents and other close relatives that they don't even know who gave them each gift.

The presents all simply get thrown together into one big pile, sadly a mountain of things that are soon forgotten if even played with much at all. And yet the family thinks this is what these kids need and should have. It makes me wonder who the gift-giving is for in the first place.

The results?

First, a lack of thankfulness for what they do have. Instead of saying thank you they tend to say or at least be thinking, Where's the next one?

Second, a focus on what they have versus others. You will often hear from these children, "I just got a . . . ." or "My parents bought me a . . . ."  They never have enough but it always needs to be more than others got.

Third, a waning of social skills. Some might argue that this result depends upon the kinds of gifts the kids get and there may be some truth to that. But given too much of anything most young people will want to spend more time with the stuff and less having meaningful interactions.

Fourth, little desire to help or serve others. Yes, thankfully there are some exceptions where kids have a lot and find the passion to give it away in some form or another. But the majority of kids I've been around simply make life more about them because their parents did just that.

Each family will have to decide and determine what too much is but my advice would be to always err on the side of too little. I've written some other posts about holiday giving that might help here with other practical ideas about how to do some gift-giving and stuff slimming from your home.

Whatever you do remember the adage that is true in so many other areas: Less is more!

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Five Greatest Gifts For Your Kids This Year

Is your Christmas shopping done? Probably not unless you're one of those really organized people. Like most you are probably running from place to place, checking list after list while trying to find the best deals that will maximize your Christmas budget this year.

And while gifts for each other are great and yes can still remind us of the incredible gifts God gave us in sending His Son to earth, I wonder if there aren't some other less tangible, yet more valuable gifts we might give this season. Let me suggest a few, ones that can last and be enjoyed all year long.

More of you. No, I don't mean that you will show up at more of their events or drive the kids to more places in the family taxi. Rather, give them more of you when you're not exhausted, more of you at your best, more of you in casual, relaxed times when they can just be with you and you with them. Let go of some of the usual demands and obligations you've placed on yourself and family and leave some time and energy to just enjoy one another.

Surprises. What if this year instead of doing the same activities, going to the same events, and spending your money on the usual things, you found a couple of special, unique things to do with them that they will never forget?  It will depend on your abilities, interests and resources but you can do a special trip or getaway, visit or invite someone they haven't seen for awhile or attend an event or show they've wanted to go to. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Serve together. Consider finding not just a holiday commitment but a year-long opportunity, perhaps once a month or several times in the next twelve months to care for other people together. The gift?  The blessing of doing something for others and together. Plus you'll be modeling for them how real life and joy are more often found in giving not getting.

Slow down. This is necessary for most good gift ideas but what if this year it was simply more obvious that the whole family is going to be less busy than past years. And while kids might balk at first they will most likely see and reap the benefits of not living in the angst of running ragid and meeting the demands of others all the time. You may take some flak from outsiders too, but so what?  Try it.

Deepen your family's faith walk.  When we make significant changes in other priorities we open up our options for growing spiritually too. Parents will have to set the pace on this but think about some ways that you all can grow more spiritually, both individually and together. One size doesn't fit all here and chances are you're not looking for a program or course to do this. It might start with just praying more, adding more spiritual growth options at home or talking more about spiritual things.

You might serve this year on a missions trip or at a local shelter or other organization.

Whatever you do this season and subsequent new year, be sure to include some gifts that won't ever be under the tree but will shine brightly for months, even years, to come. And once they're opened I'm pretty sure they will be enjoyed long after the boxes and other gifts are set aside for something else.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

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