Christmas, Kids & Entitlement

I’ll never forget the year I told my husband not to get me anything for Christmas.

It was the year he got me exactly what I’d asked for.

Nothing.

I watched my kids open their gifts, snapped pictures of their excited faces, made a big breakfast feast and I waited. I knew he was going to pull out a surprise gift.

But he didn’t. And I was disappointed.

Inwardly, I felt like such an ungrateful brat. He was doing exactly what I told him, but the problem was I still had expectations. I still wanted…something.

A couple of days after Christmas, he brought home a belated gift and I said thank you, but I’d missed the point of Christmas and we both knew it.

A few months later, I traveled to Africa for the first time and my life–and my expectations– wrecked me.

There are expectations with Christmas. And with expectations, comes disappointment. And disappointment is the breeding ground for ingratitude.

We’ve had our fair share of all of the above in our house.
Christmas, Kids and Entitlement

You’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the parents who’ve “canceled Christmas” this year. In their words, “Here is why – we feel like we are fighting a very hard uphill battle with our kids when it comes to entitlement. It is one of the biggest struggles as a parent these days in middle class America. Our kids have been acting so ungrateful lately. They expect so much even when their behavior is disrespectful. We gave them good warning, either it was time for their behavior to change or there would be consequences. We patiently worked with them for several months and guess what, very little changed. One day after a particularly bad display of entitlement John said, “we should just cancel Christmas.” And, so that’s what we did.”

The reaction on the Internet to their decision has been epic and opinions split parents down the middle:

Jeannie Cunnion, who wrote “Parenting the Wholehearted Child,” told Fox News that Christmas gifts should not reflect a child’s behavior — in fact, an undeserved and unearned gift, like the gift of Jesus, best encapsulates the Christmas spirit.

But Ericka Souter, an editor for The Stir, told Good Morning America that Henderson is a “hero for parents with bratty kids all over the country,” encouraging parents and children to make a habit of volunteering and donating clothes and toys.

We all know how hard parenting is… we question our kid’s behavior along with our decisions on how to handle it regularly. But if I’ve learned anything in this parenting journey, I’ve discovered that entitled kids start with parents who entitle them.

I spent the first few years as a mother giving my kids everything I wanted them to have whether they needed it or not and I failed to see that I was creating an atmosphere that I would later try and change.

We live in a culture that thrives on getting what we want and our children are a natural result of that. And let’s face it, we are entitled ourselves. We may not always throw a fit like I did a few years ago, but we live with expectations.

While I understand the frustration of wanting to pull the plug on gift giving because of ingratitude, here are 4 ways to battle entitlement this Christmas season:

1. Give back on Christmas Day | Look for a way to do something tangible for someone else on Christmas Day. For 6-7 years, we’ve taken treats to the local hospitals that took care of our youngest when she was born premature. It’s always a great way to stop in the middle of celebrating and remember someone else. Invite a single person over for Christmas dinner or visit someone who might feel forgotten…

2. Don’t forget to create opportunities for hard work | Grace and salvation are free, but stuff we want isn’t. Sometimes this is more obvious at Christmas (especially if we don’t get what we hoped for). Here are 15 ways to teach kids about hard work. (Christmas break is a great time to start).

3. Look for the lesson -When entitlement rears its head, look beyond the demand. | When my kids expect more than I give them, my first reaction isn’t to look for the teachable moment. But I’m learning that’s often what I need to do. I understand I’ve created some of the problem and it’s to be expected in our culture in certain situations. Offering perspective is often a great way to remind kids how much they already have.

4. Make gratitude a way of life all year long | When we make gratitude and thankfulness a priority all the time, kids are more apt to show thankfulness when they get what they want and when they don’t.

Christmas and kids go together. And in our culture, entitlement right along with them. My family will be opening gifts on Christmas morning probably like yours.  Everyone might get exactly what they want or maybe they won’t. But we can start teaching our kids the true meaning of Christmas by making entitled moments teachable ones and thanking them for grateful ones.


Mercy House Exists Because 12 Year Old Mothers Do {Special Opportunity}

I don’t want to live in a world where little girls become mothers. 

I don’t want to think about how Stella and Cecelia got pregnant. I don’t want to see their cramped homes with dirt floors and the mat on the floor that serves as a bed for six people.

I don’t want to hear how Lillian was passed around in her village like garbage. I don’t want to imagine the horrors she endured without a chance at education or a right to dignity.

I have seen the raw video footage of her rescue.  And when she wiped away silent tears at the thought of leaving her hell, the world should weep with her. Because for the first time in her broken life, she had hope.

I don’t want Mercy House to exist.

But it does because 12 year old mothers do.

I don’t want to think about these things…especially at Christmas.

But I have a 12 year old child and I can’t forget how girls in our world live especially during this time of year.  He came in a cradle so He could endure the cross for us and for them.
mercy house exists because 12 year old mothers do

mother child sponsorship program

God wants you to see these faces, to  know these names. Mercy House depends on your knowing. It thrives on you not looking away, leaning into these hard, broken stories.

Three years ago, Edith was rescued. When she was discovered, her premature baby was starving to death because she’d been feeding her water dripped from a rag, not knowing her own body produced life-saving food. She hadn’t even realized she was pregnant until she went into labor.

She wrote these words for you:

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When you become a part of the story, you become a part of the success.

In the next couple of months, six residents will transition out of the residential facilities that Mercy House supports in Kenya.

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Today, we are excited to announce the brand new Mother Child Graduate Sponsorship Program.

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Every teen mother at Rehema House (supported by Mercy House) has a story. And although they are all unique, each girl has endured unspeakable trauma and unimaginable hardships.  But that’ s not the only thing they have in common: Every mother hopes for a better future for herself and her child and often that dream starts with education. From the beginning of every rescue, Rehema House’s holistic, Biblical approach works to transform each mom emotionally, physically, socially and economically in Jesus’ name, while simultaneously seeks to reconcile each girl back home or with a caring guardian when possible.  It’s a beauty from ashes story over and over again.

Our new Mother & Child Graduate Program will provide school fees, uniforms and books for four years to the graduates who are transitioning from Rehema’s residential facility back to their homes, supported by their families. The sponsorship program will also help meet any medical needs that might arise for their children. As part of the resident’s economic growth, every graduate will be able to pay for her child’s education from the account that has been set aside from the product she has made during her residential stay (No money will exchange hands, Rehema will facilitate these accounts). It’s a beautiful way to help a teen mom, help herself and her child. Sponsors will receive up to 4 letters a year via mail, along with updates on each sponsor page.

We need 60 people to step into six young mothers lives and go the extra mile to support her and her child. For as little as $20 a month, you can do just that.

I can’t think of a better way to spend Christmas.

We are so happy to announce that this program was fully sponsored within 48 hours! Please consider helping us bring in new residents for 2015:

 

WFMW: Yes to Grace

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I'm happy to introduce you to this week's guest poster, Sara, for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you. I’d been waiting on the call for four years, … [Continue reading]