“But Mom, I need that. I really nnneeeedd it.”
Do these words sound familiar?
I’ve been trying to help my kids distinguish between needs and wants for a long time. Some days in parenting we take two steps forward and one step back. Just last week, one of my kids stomped off in the store because I wouldn’t buy a new product they’d seen advertised.
I feel so defeated when entitlement rears its ugly head in my family.
I am more disappointed when I see it in myself.
But we live in a society that gets what we want when we want it. And if we can’t afford it, we can put it on a credit card. And if parents don’t let kids have it, research proves that after the 9th time of asking, we end up giving in to our kids. Because whining.
This mentality has not only imprisoned countless families in debt, it’s also trickled down to our kids, creating a spoiled culture.
We have a hard time distinguishing wants from needs. And we often place something that’s wanted in front of something that’s needed due to guilt. In our home, we talk budget and spending and saving. We try to figure out the difference between needs and wants. We don’t always get it right. But the more we expose this way of thinking, we see just how entitled we are.
We need food, we don’t need fruit smoothies from Smoothie King. We may want one and get one occasionally, but this isn’t a need. Deciphering the difference is important. And our kids are watching how we juggle the two.
I love giving my kids what they want. It’s one of the joys of parenting. But it’s not healthy for them to receive everything they want.
Because it only causes them to want more.
When we see a shift and our kids began to feel like we owe them more, we are on unstable ground.
Do you know what our homes really need besides obvious love and nurturing? It’s not necessarily more square footage or a newer car or certain brands and it really has nothing at all to do with stuff or money.
Here are 4 things we can add to our home for intentional living:
1. Homes Need Purpose: Of course,we all have the main purpose of loving one another and growing together to be better people. But when we dig deeper, I believe God has a specific purpose for every single family. He created a family in the beginning of time to bring Himself glory and He used a family to usher His Son into the world. Your family of freckled redheaded daughters or blonde-headed sons or lovely ebony-skin tones has a unique purpose that is as special as you are. He has placed you on your street, in your town, for a specific purpose. Who will your family touch that my family will never meet? We were made for more than just getting by. We were made for more than just the American Dream. We were made to leave an impact and we can only do this if we live intentionally with purpose. (Read more about parenting with purpose and writing a family mission statement in Rhinestone Jesus).
2. Families Need Time Together: I think this is why I’m such a fan of consistent dinners together. Everything is pulling your family away from each other and the older kids get, the harder it is to find time together. Dinner pulls us back to the table, to laughter and conversation and yes, spilled milk and a fair share of tears over it. Think back to your best most favorite childhood memories…they probably don’t center around toys or stuff. They are probably long road trips or camping in a tent or crazy family moments. Families were made to live and do life together. Because it’s in those moments where we laugh and talk and really love, that we grow. We argue and learn how to really get along with others. We hurt each other’s feelings and we learn how to empathize with others. We clean up each other’s messes and learn how to help others. We drive each other crazy because that’s what families do and we learn that life is messy. Don’t let busyness get in the way of time together.
3. Kids Need a Work Ethic: One of the best things we can offer our kids is the chance to work hard. Sounds fun, eh? A couple of weeks ago we planted a garden and then had a truck load of mulch dumped in our driveway. I’m not going to lie, I was more than tempted to ask the yard guys at my neighbor’s house how much it would cost for them to spread the 400 wheelbarrows so we didn’t have to. (I’m typing with a huge blister right now). But my husband and I wanted our kids to sweat a little, we wanted them to see the before and after of hard work. We wanted to spend the day unplugged, together, working hard, laughing some, chasing each other with manure and then having a loud meltdown in the yard because of it (that really wasn’t a part of my original vision, just a bonus). It’s part of God’s plan for us to work hard and in our culture of “I will pay to have it all done for me” what are we teaching our kids?
4. We All Need Perspective: In order to get true perspective, we have to look up from our own busy lives and look out into the world–down the street or across the ocean. It’s so easy to stay in our safe, comfortable bubble, even when it’s not easy. But something really powerful and transforming happens when we focus as a family on other people: we get a new perspective. Sometimes we discover we aren’t alone in our struggles. Sometimes we realize we can help other people in their struggles. But when we open our eyes to others, we always feel gratitude. Thankfulness is the gift that perspective gives us. And every family needs that.
So, while a whole host of wants may fill our Pinterest screens and our To Do Lists and our hearts, let’s shift our focus to some things we need that money can’t buy.