What To Say to Your Kids When Their Friends Get Everything They Want

I tucked her in bed and pulled up the cozy pink comforter to her chin. “Mommy?” she whispered after prayers were said.

“Yes, honey?” I waited.

“I am sad.”

“Really, why?” trying to remember what would cause this statement.

“I’m sad I don’t have my own iTouch like my friends.”

SAY WHAT?

“A lot of my friends have them and iPhones, too,” she said as she rattled off half her first grade class.

“Why do you want one?” I asked, even though I could have guessed her answer.

Because my friends have one.

what to say to your kids when their friends get everything they want

And then I went on to tell her this wasn’t right for her at seven years old. But this wasn’t about technology (although- really?)–she could have asked for a purple pony named Lucy or a giant stuffed marshmallow that all the kids must have now. The point is, we cannot give our kids stuff just because their friends have it.

And we cannot give in to giving our kids stuff because our friends are giving it to their kids.

It’s a dangerous cycle that is hard to break.

These over-the-top two year old birthday parties are more about the moms competing with their friends than the cake-covered baby having a meltdown due to exhaustion. I watched a mom at my daughter’s tumbling class tap on the glass and give her little girl a stern look and whispered through gritted teeth to “stop having fun” and then I overheard her comparing her daughter’s skills with another mother.

That little girl flipping on the mat just wanted to have fun. Her mother was the real competitor.

We cannot make our parenting choices based on what others are doing. We have to purpose our lives with intention or we will just end up being like everyone else, caught in a trap in our culture that demands we fit in.

What do we say to our kids when their friends get everything they want?

1. We don’t do what everyone else does. We will not try and keep up. Sometimes we just need to say no.

We must choose what is best for our own family today, so that when the latest fad or must-have is hot on the market, we have a plan that isn’t tossed around by the gimmes or the pressure to give in because everyone else is.

2. We remind them about perspective: Not everyone has this or (fill in the blank). It may seem like you’re the only one in your class or in your grade or on this planet who isn’t fitting in or keeping up. But if we are going to compare ourselves to others, let’s also compare ourselves to kids who live in poverty. That way we will live in the middle of those who have everything and those who have nothing.

3. We have to plan for what we say yes to. We are intentional. Saying it too often only fans the flame of entitlement.

4. We are more concerned about who you are than what you have. I love seeing my kids happy. But keeping them happy all the time isn’t my number one priority. Parenting is a marathon and we have to remember our longterm goal of raising beautiful people who love God and others.

Sure, your kid might end up with the latest technology that you require them to save their money for and you may throw that one over-the-top 13th birthday party you’ve been planning all year. There isn’t anything wrong with these things when they are a part of your plan.

Because here’s the thing: When we parent with intention and moderation and our kids end up getting something they really want or have worked for–That gift will be intentional and not just another thing to add their pile of stuff. It will be appreciated.

Because we have to balance the natural desire to give our kids the world without giving them over to it.

Motherhood is messy.

But we can say yes in the mess and live a life that is making a difference in our world and most importantly, in our home. Because families who choose to live different do.

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Read more about the twelve things we are doing to try and raise our kids different from our culture in my new book:

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How a Dying Man Changed the Way I Live on A Good Friday

He has Stage IV cancer.

Our strong, healthy friend is dying.

This killer invaded his body quietly. It’s wild to think of the silent battle we don’t even know we could be fighting. How close we walk to death in life…

We can’t answer the when’s and how’s, we can only hold onto the truth that God can do anything.

Because we are people of the Resurrection. We believe in the impossible. We hope for the improbable.

I have watched our friend give even more of his time and energy to others in his sickness.  He is kind and generous. His actions are life-giving.

He makes me want to say all the things that are left unspoken. He makes me want to cherish others every day. He makes me want to love freely and live in wild obedience. He reminds me he might not have a tomorrow.

He reminds me that I might not either.

A dying man is changing the way I live.

Because he understands the power of Resurrection, too. He knows his life–a vapor–is not the end. Instead it is the beginning.

The way he chooses to live points to another dying man on another Friday so long ago.

It looked bad. The sky was dark, the deed was done. The enemy gloated.

It was time to wait.

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And we wait. It’s the hardest part of Good Friday-the waiting.

The hours ticked by. The buzzards circled. The blood dried.

But then.

This was no ordinary man who would be held by death or the grave.

The earth shook and we see that the moment God died, He gave us life.

He is alive. Death cannot win.

We are people of the Resurrection. We believe in the impossible. The improbable.

No matter what may come in this life–hardships, dark days, a diagnosis or even death.

Jesus’ death changes the way we live.

His Resurrection changes our eternity.

 

Happy Easter, dear friends. 

He is risen.

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What Scares Me More Than Being Inadequate

I used to think my greatest fear was inadequacy.

I believed these words for a very long time.

You could never do that.

You aren’t good enough.

You cannot make a difference.

You will fail.

But the day I said yes to something bigger than my capability, I discovered being inadequate -not having all the answers, not being successful, not being enough–these weren’t my deepest fears.

My deepest fear was rooted in the unleashing of my yes. I realized the unbelievable, unspeakable power of that little word would thrust me into an unknown world of faith-walking and desperation for Jesus.

And that terrified me.

Because I’m still inadequate. No matter what I do, what I learn, there’s always something I don’t know.  We cannot rescue or save or even get our kids to listen half the time. How dare we have the audacity to help another human being?

I live in that place.

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But when we hush that voice and step out anyway, we aren’t depending on ourselves. We are trusting the God of the Universe to act through us.

And that is where our fear lies. What if He asks me to something that is hard? What if I have to give up something I love? What if He uses failure instead of success to reach others and change me?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -by Marianne Williamson

Incredible.

We were created to shine. We were born to make His glory known. We were fashioned to unleash the power of God.

Being inadequate is scary.

But never saying yes is far more terrifying.

WFMW: The Golden Tote

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I spent 10 minutes looking for my denim jacket the other day. I looked everywhere–in my closet, car, laundry room. I finally gave up, scratching my head in wonder.

It turned out my teen daughter looked quite stylish that day at school.

Can anyone else identify? I’m just glad we aren’t the same shoe size anymore.

A friend told me it was a high compliment–that my teenager thinks (some) of my wardrobe is cool enough to wear. I’m honored. Sort of (because I was also a bit cold without my jacket).

But I have to admit, my daughter knows the latest fashion trends way before I do and helps me look cute when I’m “looking my age.” When  The Golden Tote asked if they could send me a tote of clothes to try, we were excited. I say we because we both know it’s not just for me.

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I’ve been a big fan of StitchFix, but I wanted to see how this was different. Because while I love the clothes they send me, it’s expensive. If it weren’t for referral credits, I wouldn’t shop there very often.  The Golden Tote asks a couple of questions and then let’s you choose an item (or two) based on the option you choose and they surprise you with the rest.

Here’s how The Golden Tote works:

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My tote came in a few days and the best part? You don’t have to choose what to keep, you get to keep everything in your prepaid tote. And I loved my grab bag with a super cute dress that I’m going to call my Easter dress, three tops and a cami

Here are my favorites:

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1. This little floral tank is so colorful. It looks great with my favorite cardigan that I already had.

2. I love the pink and green top/dress. It looks cute over jeans or tights or by itself.

3. My hubby is going to love this little slip dress. I’m saving it for our next date.

4. And my favorite is probably this soft white top. It’s simple, but classy. I love it.

and guess what else was in my Golden Tote?

A new denim jacket.

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I think we love it.

The Golden Tote works for us! (Click on my affiliate link to check it out!)

How to Have the Best 10 Minutes of Your Day With Your Family

I get it.

I know just how hard it is to get dinner on the table and five people around it who are all going five different directions at five o’clock.

Mondays my oldest has church youth group and Tuesdays my son has after school honor band practice and Wednesdays we meet with other families for Bible Study and Thursdays, we have dental and eye appointments or –well, you get my point. Some days the window for all of us to be together is so small, it would be easier to just eat on the go or at least separately.

And other days when we have long moments to linger –that’s when the big kids irritate each other until an argument erupts and the youngest is picky and cries in her dinner and we have a big fat mess spilled all over our good intentions.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.

Because this isn’t really about food.

It’s not about dinner at all. It’s about pursuing intentional, meaningful conversation that your children will never forget. It’s about building relationships and communicating purpose and goals. It’s about going deeper. It’s about breaking Real Bread together.

It’s about the best 10 minutes of your day.

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Practical Ideas to Make it Happen:

  • Plan a weekly crockpot meal so you aren’t overwhelmed once you get everyone at the table.
  • Keep a large family calendar in the kitchen and make sure at least 3 nights a week are free (even if it’s different every week.)
  • Keep a basket of Bibles near the table. Read them together.
  • Make the window of time interactive: My new ebook Saying Yes to God As a Family: 30 Lessons for the Table from Rhinestone Jesus was created just for this precious 10 minute window. Each short  lesson has a suggested Bible passage and 3 questions to promote interaction and deeper-thinking. (It’s totally free right now when you buy my book -offer expires April 30).
  • Have fun. Painting our kitchen table with chalkboard paint was one of our best decisions to keep our kids around the table longer. Printing out paper placemats for drawing will also keep little hands busy (there are ones included in my ebook). Celebrate great nights together with ice cream!
  • Keep it short. Because kids.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Some nights I want to go straight to bed after dinner because it’s THAT BAD. But we do it all over again the next day. It’s worth it. Don’t give up! Make #sayyesinmymess your mantra.

When we persevere through the mess and stick a yes in it, we discover beautiful moments together, sometimes sandwiched between really bad ones. (That’s life, huh?) If we choose to be intentional, we have the opportunity to connect on a deeper level. We uncover glorious tidbits that carry us through the hard days. We giggle and laugh. We hear about one another’s day and learn more about each other.

We often find the best 10 minutes of our day when we look for them.

The Two Words That Can Absolutely Change Your Marriage

Sometimes I don’t even know I need to hear the words.

Until he says them.

And then I’m like a sponge and I soak them up like my life depended on hearing them.

The whole family spent the entire Saturday knocking down dead trees, pulling up weeds and pulling down thorny vines tangled in our trees. We turned up the earth and planted tiny okra, pepper and tomato plants, already dreaming of summer. If it sounds exhausting, that’s because it was, but it’s my favorite kind of day. We were all working together and accomplishing something we all wanted: a garden.

We were dead tired and covered head-to-toe in filth, dirt in our hair and under our nails. I walked in the kitchen and that’s when I remembered my forgotten trip to the grocery store. I sighed because I had to go to the store and I couldn’t wait another hour.

I scrubbed my hands and put a clean shirt over my-not-so-clean body and my oldest and I headed out. I left my husband and other kids chopping wood to carry off.

I still had groceries to get and unpack, dinner to start, laundry to turn and a half dozen other tasks that keep our family of five running all week long.

The kids helped me unload food into the pantry and I hurried dinner along. It was nearly dark as we sat down to eat, and I stifled a yawn. And that’s when my husband leaned over and looked at me long and hard and whispered the words: thank you.

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And I patted his arm, his face ringed with the weariness of hard physical work and I said them back. Thank you.

Because sometimes? We just need to hear the words. Deep down we know our family is grateful–our kids appreciate the little things, especially when we don’t do them and our husbands and wives see more than we think they do.

But to hear the audible words–some days it’s the jet fuel we need to keep going.

And the words aren’t really dependent upon what we do–because sometimes dinner is a flop and the laundry spills over and the kids meltdown and husbands run late and life has a way of being perfectly imperfect.

But when you overhear him tell your daughter she looks beautiful on Sunday morning or watch him put his briefcase down, loosen his tie and read Junie B. Jones for the millionth time — stop — and thank him.

When you realize she turned off the alarm so you could sleep a few more minutes or remembered your dry cleaning for that important business meeting and changed the cat litter because she knows it’s the chore you hate the most–stop—and thank her.

Sometimes the very thing you need to hear the most is what you need to say to someone else.

When she’s impatient. When he’s angry. When she’s tired. When he’s busy. When she’s down. When he’s not…

When she’s up all night with the baby and you have to step over baskets of unfolded laundry, when you can see the stress of his job weighing him down–these are the messy moments when we feel invisible, unappreciated, overlooked.

These are the moments in our marriages that need a thank you the most.

Because they aren’t just words. Thank you sends a lifeline. It says:

I see what you do all day long.

It matters.

It’s important.

You matter.

You’re important.

I don’t see the mess.

I see your yes in it.

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Click to read more of our marriage story….

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Dear Parents, Let it Go

There are problems.

And then THERE ARE FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

Like these real comments left this week on Disney’s Facebook page by irate mothers who can’t find Frozen merchandise for their children (source):

I have been staying up late every night checking the site. I didn’t think the site would refresh during the day. SO irritated! My girl has been waiting for a classic Elsa doll since Christmas. She can’t understand why Santa didn’t get her one since it was what she wanted most. Now she is hoping that the Easter Bunny will put one in her basket. She has been so patient. I really think this might be what stops her believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny. I can’t afford to spend over $100 on eBay for a $16 doll. This whole situation makes me so sad and angry. Thank you Disney for killing the magic for my 6 year old.”

And there’s this gem:

WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS THE HOLD UP, DISNEY? ARE YOU STAFFED ENTIRELY BY SOULLESS. DREAM-CRUSHING MONSTERS??[…]UGH. I AM FURIOUS. HENCE ALL THESE CAPITAL LETTERS. […] UNACCEPTABLE, DISNEY. YOU’RE LITERALLY RUINING LIVES WITH YOUR EVIL WAYS. FOR SHAME.

These are just a couple of the hundreds of complaints against the mouse-magic-makers. And parents are in crazy bidding wars on ebay trying to buy $150 deluxe character dresses for over $1000.00 and $30 plastic dolls for $300.

Not to mention the speculation about how Disney is meeting this demand in some factory in another country…

So, this is what it’s come to, huh? Blaming a huge money-making empire for ruining Jesus’ birthday and His Resurrection because we can’t give our kids more stuff?

Y’all.

This is the culture we live in–we are waisting time and money on nothing. That doll or costume or whatever it is we chase and pursue and spend so much of our attention on won’t last. It’s embarrassing.

In an effort to create a magical childhood, we are forgetting what our kids really need: an intentional one. This isn’t about making our kids happy. That’s not even our job.

This is about the competition to keep up and the guilt that drives us to think that more stuff will make our kids happy. This is about winning some game that’s not worth playing. This is about scoring the latest fad or being the highest bidder that might fill some void in us.

I know most of you are probably like me and would never pay outlandish prices for the latest must-have thing. My 7 year old got some Frozen merchandise for her December birthday.

By the way, they are now for sale.

We can let them go… Kidding.

I get it. I really do—this urge to give our kids what they really want or what we really want for them.  But what price will we pay? How far will we go to create “happy” kids.

Because this isn’t just about stuff. It’s about making disposable things more important than they are.

How often do we freak out over the mess on the kitchen floor or try to control our children (impossible, ask me how I know) or waste hours on trivial things that are temporary.

Seriously, let’s remember what really matters–

And let the other stuff go.

Saying #Yes In My Mess

I’m a mom.

I have a lot of messes.

Currently: there is a science fair project involving 1000 paper clips most of which are scattered under my dining room table and an entire package of broken Girl Scout cookies on my kitchen floor. (One of these is more fun to pick up, by the way).

But there’s always been an internal mess too… struggling with who I am, what I’m supposed to do, wondering if I’m a good enough wife and mom…

After years of wondering if I was enough, I decided to say yes in my mess.

You just never know where your yes might lead.

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In 2010 when I introduced my family to the young African girl who I’d met on a Compassion Blogger Trip in Kenya a couple of months earlier, I didn’t know what God was going to do.

My life was a mess.

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And I’m not just talking about under the beds.

I was a home decor hoarder, I was ruled by mom guilt, my marriage was on the mend and I’d stopped dreaming.

I didn’t know God was going to take the broken pieces of my life– the inadequate and fearful me- my big mess- and ask me to say yes in it.

But He did.

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He didn’t wait for me to have it all together, to clean up my act, to finally arrive before He asked.

He looked at my wreck and asked me to obey anyway.

This is my story.

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And you know what’s crazy? More than two dozen rescued moms and miracle babies later — my life is still a mess.

My kids still misbehave, I still lose my cool. My husband and I still argue over stupid things, I still eat all the Easter candy I “put away for the kids” and there is still junk under my bed.

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I still get it wrong. I still have to apologize and ask forgiveness.

I am still messy me.

But I still keep saying yes.

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Because it not only unleashes other people to join me, but I’ve never felt more alive than when I say yes. We were made for more than just existing in our mess and complaining about it.

You have a purpose. You are destined for more.

You can say yes in your mess, too. Because life is messy. It’s imperfect and if we wait until we have the perfect family (picture) we will wait forever.

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If we wait until we have it all together to say yes to God, we won’t say it.

What is He asking you today? Call that friend, send that email. Visit that neighbor. Start something. Say something. Step out. Take a risk.

Saying yes is the hard part. He does the rest.

Join me in saying yes in your mess today.

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To download the free, full size printable to add a “yes to your mess” click here. Add (hashtag) #yesinmymess and/or #rhinestonejesus and join the YES MOVEMENT on Instagram.

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