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:

 motherhoodismessy


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.

how to have the best 10 minutes with your family

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.


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.


15 Ways to Teach Kids How to Work Hard

It was the first day of summer in 1984. He was 14 years old.

His dad woke him up before work and said there’s a load of sand in the driveway and shovel. He told him by the time he got home from work, he wanted the low spots in the backyard filled.

There were similar projects all summer long.

That’s how my husband was raised.

(I was raised scooping dog poop in the hot Texas sun, so don’t feel too sorry for him.)

There was also summer fun for both of us -bike riding and baseball playing,  But there was also a lot of hard work. We didn’t sleep until noon or play video games until the middle of the night while mom fixed lunch everyday and did all the laundry.

We have come along way, huh? Maybe it’s time to backtrack.

Because when I declare it’s yard work day at my house, it’s like the End Times around here. We ignore the groans and moans and wailing and push through). Because hard work is good for kids. Not only does it teach them to be grateful for what you do all day long, it creates a work ethic in them that will carry them into adulthood.

Pile of dirty washing in bathroom

Here are 15 ways to teach kids how to work hard:

  1. Don’t do everything for them: It sounds simple, but kids will let you do everything for them as long as you do everything for them.
  2. Require them to take care of their own space. They won’t clean it up you say? Try the age old “you can’t do or have this (fill in the blank) until you clean up this (fill in the blank)” and I bet they will.
  3. Make them sweat a little. Like literally get their hands dirty picking up the busted trash in the street, washing the car, or the bottom of the trash can. It’s okay. They will survive.
  4. Start early.
  5. Make work part of your family routine. This is just something we do. We take care of what God has given us.
  6. Let them learn from their mistakes (don’t jump in to fix or redo everything they try to do) Let it go.
  7. Make work fun (chore roulette).
  8. Be an example of hard work-Let them see you working hard.
  9. Serve as a family (perspective is everything). This has been huge for us.
  10. Be an encourager (and not a control freak).
  11. Let your kids be in charge of dinner (from grocery shopping to putting it on the table). Last week my son prepared dinner for the family. I needed his help and he did a great job. He doubted at first, but ended up really proud of himself.
  12. Give them a chance to earn money, so they can learn how to handle it. This has been the single best thing to eliminate the gimme gimmes.
  13. Teach them to save and give a % of their money.
  14. Give them projects that require time management skills (like dirt on the driveway)
  15. Be consistent

I married a hard-working man. And I need to tell his parents thank you.


9 Things We Should Add to Our Kids Lives to Help Them

The day after my husband and I got matching tattoos, we told our kids over breakfast.

And my straight-laced, rule-following, good-girl first born daughter burst into tears.

I could see the confusion etched on her face as she tried to fit the parents she knew loved God into her framework of right and wrong.

Right then and there, I knew we had made some mistakes.

And getting tattoos wasn’t one of them.

Somewhere along the line in an effort to teach our kids right from wrong, good from bad, we had inadvertently taught them that people who love God don’t get tattoos or don’t (fill in the blank). We had made faith about a set of rules.

More than I want my kids to live by a set of do’s and don’ts, I want them to follow Jesus and from that relationship, they will know what is right and what is wrong. Of course, we teach absolute truth to help guide their moral compass, but living life by strict black and white lines leads towards legalism, guilt and bondage.

And there’s no freedom in that.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote 9 Things We Should Get Rid Of To Help Our Kids. And crazy enough, it was read by 3 million people.

I think I hit a nerve.

But for everything we get rid of, we leave room to add something. I’ve been thinking about things we should add to our kids lives to cut out entitlement and produce well-rounded, grateful, God-loving children who put others first.

9 things we should add into our kids lives to help them

Here are 9 things we should add to their lives to help them:

  1. The words “It’s Okay” Because it is. And if it’s not, we will figure out a way to get through whatever tough spot we find ourselves. Knowing that there is grace to learn and fail is half the journey. Because our kids are going to mess up. And so are we. And at the end of the day, we just need to know that it’s going to be okay because love wins.
  2. Hard work: “A little bit of hard work never hurt anyone” as the saying goes, but it’s the lack of hard work that is crippling this generation. Kids who have never done physical, hard work are missing out on the pure exhilaration and satisfaction of completing something challenging. It’s okay for them to sweat a little. We are one of the only cultures in the world who pays other people to do all our hard work. Save some for your kids. It’s good for them!
  3. Perspective: Without a doubt, this word more than any other, changed our home. When we pull back the curtains and expose our children to different ways people live or struggle too, we don’t have to say much. And this can be done right in our own cities or across the globe. Exposing our kids to the needs of others will not only shift their perspective of what they think they need, it will also remind them of what they already have.
  4. Absolute Truth: I believe there are absolute truths that should guide our lives. I find mine in the Bible. In a culture that is constantly redefining truth, we need a standard that does not change. If we don’t teach our children absolute truth, they will be tossed around with every new wind that blows into their lives. Give them something to hold onto that does not change.
  5. Compassion: When we choose to live and abide by absolute truth, we are going to meet people who don’t. We  need to teach our kids tolerance for those who believe and live differently than we do. Love is more important than being right, even if we don’t agree with other people’s choices, especially then. We can stand for what we believe in without hating those who disagree with us.
  6. Jobs: We have regular chores we all share around the house, but we also have occasional jobs that pay a bit of money. It’s good for kids to understand the value of money because then they will begin to understand how hard you work for yours.
  7. A Bank: Give your kids a piggy bank or bank account or envelope marked “savings” and another one labeled “giving.” Start teaching them the value of saving for something they want and giving some of it away. It’s a lesson that will shape their future.
  8. Opportunity to serve: There is something beautiful that happens when children serve. Find tangible, practical ways to do something for someone else. Here’s a few ideas. It will touch your family in ways you can’t imagine.
  9. Their Own Laundry Basket: When kids start reading in my house, they get their own laundry basket. If you do it all, they will let you. Don’t. It takes a family to run your home, so put your family to work. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be completed.

It’s okay to add these things, go ahead and try it!