Maybe We Should Stop Entertaining Our Kids So Much

15 hours. One way.

That’s how long it took us to drive to New Mexico on Spring Break. Getting there, my children were delightful. On the long drive, they occupied themselves with reading, drawing, watching a couple of movies and asking questions about the change of scenery, and they got along well.

Clearly, we were amazing parents.

And then we piled in the car a few days later to come home. We arrived in the Land of Enchantment with one set of children and discovered they had morphed into entirely different ones for the long road home. Because all their books had been read, movies watched, pictures drawn.

There was squabbling and bickering and mostly, a lot of boredom.

While I wasn’t looking forward to the drive home either, the getting home part is sort of unavoidable, you know?

The complaining heightened to an all time high and at some point a kid from the backseat actually demanded, “Give me something to do.”

In other words, entertain me.

And this is the price we pay when we constantly entertain our kids: They cannot entertain themselves.

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Remember when we used to play outside for hours?

Now we have half a dozen screens to choose from between ipads, ipods, iphones, iii-yii-yii

Remember when kids used to use their imaginations?

Now we over schedule them with extracurriculars. .

Remember when going to the park, zoo, circus, playplace, you-name-it-in-kid-entertainment used to be reserved for a special occasion?

Now we do something every other day because our kids aren’t the only ones who are bored. Parents are too.

Maybe we should stop entertaining our kids so much.

Maybe they will start creating fun instead of depending on us to manufacture it.

Because it’s really way more about entitlement than entertainment.

Now, I have done it all. I’m a guilty parent entertainer. But I’ve realized the more I do, the more they want and the less they do for themselves. 

We live in a culture that thrives on entertainment. We crave the thrill of it. And that’s great for special days, but maintaining it constantly is doing more harm than good.

If we stop doing it, they will stop expecting it.

Because sometimes we have to wait.

Sometimes we don’t get our way.

Sometimes we are bored.

My kids ended up surviving the road trip. There was sleeping and made-up-game-playing and just old fashioned car-riding imagination.

Life isn’t always entertaining.

And the sooner our kids realize that, the sooner they realize they have the power to change that.

Use Words When Necessary

Her name is Bipana and every time I see her she wears a bright yellow shirt that matches her personality. She has the kind of smile you can’t ignore.

Bipana is an ethnic Nepali. She is 26 years old and spent the first 20 years of her life in limbo in a refugee camp in Nepal after her family fled Bhutan for racial discrimination.

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The refugee camps didn’t have electricity, the conditions were very cramped and the outbreak of fire was always a concern. Bipana attended a makeshift school within the walls of the camp. As she got older, she became a self-taught beautician.

Life in a refugee camp was very harsh.

Bipana resettled in the United States just one year ago as my neighbor with her toddler daughter and husband and she picked up English easier than most.  Her husband works at a factory 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

And while she dreams of being a beautician in America one day, she spends her free time knitting beautiful items to help buy diapers and other necessities for her family.

My first day with the refugees was her first day in the new Art Business Class that my friends asked me to help lead. We were drawn to each other –with her willing heart and my need for a translator.

Sometimes you don’t need to speak the same language to be able to understand each other.

When she walks into the room with a bag full of knitted items, she looks for me. We hug and grasp hands. We are connected. We are friends.

Someone asked me why I haven’t told her about Jesus yet.

How could I not share Him with this Buddhist woman?

I was hungry and you fed me.

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.

I was homeless and you gave me a room.

I was shivering and you gave me clothes.

I was sick and you stopped to visit.

I was in prison and you came to me.

They reply, “Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, I’m telling the solemn truth:  Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked and ignored, that was me—you did it to me.” –Matthew 26: 36-40

I’ve spent the last six weeks loving this woman. My friends and I have taught these beautiful refugee women a few things and learned much more. We are helping with their basic needs and with navigating this new culture. We are building relationships.

“There is such an emphasis on church buildings in the United States that we sometimes forget that the Church is the people-not the place where people meet… The church –a group of believers-is God’s ordained place for the discipleship process to take place. God’s Plan A for the redemption of the world is the Church, and He has no Plan B.”” K.P. Yohannan

My new friend may never step inside a church, but that doesn’t mean the Church can’t go to her.

Because we are God’s plan.

We are the Church.

Every week, new refugee women join the Art Business Class and something amazing has happened. Instead of us teaching them, faltering with the language barrier, they teach each other. I’ve watched Bipana countless times show a new woman how to get started.

I hope one day we can talk about what compels me to drive two hours a week to be a part of her life.

But really, I hope that as I follow Jesus, Bipana will follow me and find Him. And then she will teach her friends about Him.

This isn’t just a social gospel –doing tangible things like sharing our wealth with the poor. It’s more. It’s a life-changing Gospel that makes dead people alive. But it’s not one or the other. It’s both.

Sometimes we use words to share the Gospel.

Other times we just live it.

The Reflection in the Mirror

I used to hate mirrors.

I avoided them as often as I could. I would get ready in the morning for school—squinting and inwardly criticizing my reflection and then I would avoid looking again until the end of the day.

It wasn’t the mirror I hated, really. It was the reflection.

It was me. Because all I could see was imperfection.

I spent a lot of those teen years wishing I was taller, curvier in some places, thinner in others. I longed for my boring brown hair to be less wavy, for my skin to be clearer, for more beauty.

I wanted to be beautiful. But, really, I wanted others to think I was beautiful.

It wasn’t just outward approval I longed for; I wanted to be liked. Loved.

But it’s a futile journey-this self-loathing and it leads to ugliness that runs deep.  And no cosmetic magic makeover can ever repair the broken reflections. We won’t ever be enough in those mirrors.

People spend millions of dollars in lotions and potions and peels and injections trying. It’s artificial.

“Until you are convinced of God’s incredible love for you, you will continue looking for replacement love everywhere,” Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes.

I found true love for myself and mostly others when I accepted God’s great love for me.

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I put away the mirrors that compare and contradict and condemn and I traded them for something pure and holy. I may never understand its depths, but in that deep pool of unfathomable love, I saw myself as a reflection of Christ.

It changed everything for me.

The overwhelming, ever-present need for approval lessened. I realized it was okay to be unapproved by others because I was preapproved by God. Nothing else required. Just like I am.

I remember the first time I saw a picture of myself and thought, “She is pretty.”

It was startling because I realized that she was me.

I was being transformed from the inside out.

I still had the same unruly brown curls and average face, but I saw a different reflection.

And it had absolutely nothing to do with what I looked like.

 

I dare you to trade in the mirrors in your life that crave approval. It’s time to exchange them for always-sent preapproval in God’s eyes. Love Idol by my friend Jennifer Dukes Lee will help you find the acceptance we long for. I loved this important book and you will too!

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Today, she is graciously giving away two copies. Please leave a comment to be entered.

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And if you really want to know how God feels about you, click here now.

WFWM: “Honest”ly, Something I Love

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I’ve become one of those people who lives by a list. If it’s not on my list, it isn’t happening.

This has nothing to do with me being over 40. Thank you very much.

It never fails, I always leave something off my grocery list and I have to run back to the store for important things like soap. Because you can only ask your family to bathe with shampoo as a substitute once or twice really.

My friend Jessica told me about Honest Company that delivers these necessities to your front door every month and even better, they are affordable and organic. She wrote a killer review that shares the pros and cons of the products.

I recently started off with a free trial of the Essentials pack (there are also Diaper and Wipe and Health and Wellness options, plus a lot of other products). FYI: Shipping is $5.95 and you are signed up for a monthly delivery when you join, but you can cancel it if it’s not something you love.

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I might just be hooked.

I like the Honest Co. because:

  • I don’t have to add these basics to my grocery list every month.
  • I don’t have to leave the house to get what I need.
  • The bundle option saves money-35% off retail.
  • I can customize what I need for each month.The Essentials option comes with 5 mix/match options. And only order when I need it.
  • It’s quality product I feel great offering to my family
  • Every purchases gives back to a charity that support families and children with needs.

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Honestly, my favorite is the hand soap and the healing balm (works amazing on dry skin).

I honestly think this might be a good option for busy moms!

The Honest Co. works for me so far (click on my affiliate link to learn more).

9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help Our Kids

She borrowed something from me.

And then she lost it.

Accidents happen.

But it was the whole “It only cost ten bucks-you can get another one” attitude that I couldn’t let happen a moment longer.

So, I gave her a job that required hard work and gave her the $10 she earned and then I made her pay me for what she lost.

Child counting money (Shallow DOF)

Listen, when I realized I was more than half the problem in this whole entitlement parenting challenge, it was a wake up call. Kids naturally want what they haven’t earned, especially if we are handing it out for free.

But what we have is an entire generation of young adults who got everything they ever wanted with little or no work; we have a cultural norm and it’s a problem.

Because reality is, life doesn’t give us everything we want. We don’t always get the best jobs or a job at all. We don’t always have someone rescue us when we have a bad day or replace our boss just because we don’t like them. We can’t always have what we want when we want it. We aren’t always rewarded in life.

Here are 9 things we can get rid of to begin eliminating entitlement in our children:

1. Guilt: Often we give into our kid’s requests out of guilt. We need to stop feeling guilty for not giving our kids everything they want. It’s hard to swallow, but we foster the attitude of entitlement in our homes when we are ruled by a guilty conscience. It’s okay to ask kids to be responsible for what they lose and to require consequences for actions.

2. Overspending: I think it’s good for our kids to hear us say, “We can’t afford that” Or “We will have to save for it.” Because that’s real life. We don’t have All The Money to Buy All the Things. I’ve known families before who are working multiple jobs to keep kids in extracurricular activities, when honestly, the kids would probably be happier with more family time.

3. Birthday Party Goody Bag (Mentality)-I’ve been guilty of this like most of us. But, really? We take our kids to parties so they can give a gift, but they take a small one home so they won’t feel bad? It’s not their birthday. This concept of spoiling kids (which usually goes far beyond goody  bags) is temporary fun. It’s okay for them not to be the center of attention.

4. Making our day-week-month, our world about our kids-Working in the non-profit world has redirected our extra time. We simply can’t center our lives around our children when we are centering our lives around Christ. Child-centered homes don’t help children in the long-run.

5. The desire to make our children happy (all the time). If you visited my house, you’d find out pretty quickly that someone’s always unhappy. It’s not our job to keep our kids happy. Don’t carry that impossible burden. Typically when our kids are unhappy, it’s because we are standing our ground. And that makes for much healthier kids in the future.

6. Made Up Awards: You know what I’m talking about. Rewarding everyone who participates in every area only fosters an inflated self esteem. Kids don’t need rewards for every little thing. It’s okay to lose, they learn through failure as much as success.

7. Fixing all their problems: I don’t like to see my kids struggling. There’s a part of every parent that longs to make things right in their child’s world. But it’s not healthy to create a false reality. You won’t always be there to do so and not only that, if you’re doing it all for your child, why would they need to learn to do it themselves? Fixing all their problems is really only creating more challenges in the future.

8. Stuff: We could all probably fill a half dozen trash bags with just stuff. Excess. Try it. Bag it up and get your kids to help you and give it to someone who needs it.

9. Unrealistic Expectations: My girls are always asking for manicures. I didn’t have one until I was married, pregnant and 27 years old. I’m not opposed to the occasional treat, but it’s the attitude of expecting it because you as a parent or others have it. Just because I have an iPhone, doesn’t mean my children will get one. We don’t have to give our kids everything we have. It’s okay to make them wait for things in life.

It’s okay to toss out these things. Go ahead, give it a try.