Parents love giving their kids good gifts. And kids love receiving them! As we explain in our Entitlement Fix Online Course, the gift-giving experience can be an exciting dopamine burst (our body’s reward/pleasure chemical) for everyone! It can be fun at first, but over time the joy can quickly give way to a sense of entitlement.
Add to the mix a highly sophisticated advertising industry aimed at shaping the values of kids in order to influence their buying habits. One study reportedthat children under 14 influenced as much as 47% of American household spending.It is estimated that advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year to reach the youth market and that children view more than 40,000 commercials each year. These figures represent dramatic increases over those from the 1970s. They communicate a subtle and troubling message: “You need this toy (or food) to be happy.” These advertisers gauge not only how to shape your kids’ buying habits, but their identity: “You’re the coolest when you have our product!”
Thomas Edison often tops the list of the world’s greatest inventors.
We have him to thank for (among other things) the phonograph, the first motion picture camera, and the lightbulb, about which he famously said of his many failed prototypes, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
But we’re interested in a less famous quote of his: “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me: and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”
You see, as a child, “Tom” Edison was seen as a difficult child with a learning disability (dyslexia). His strict teachers didn’t understand why he couldn’t memorize and recite his lessons like the other children, and referred to young Tom as “addled” — a catch-all term at the time to mean that he was mentally incapable. This caused Tom to storm out of class one day, heading home to his mother.
I love baseball. Before I ever even thought about marriage, I dreamt about the day I would teach my own children to play baseball.
The first time I went into the backyard with three-year-old Daniel to teach him the game, I was ecstatic.
I vividly remember that first wildly swinging “fat-bat” hit that connected with my well-timed pitch, sending the ball over the garage and into the alley beyond. His first home run gave way to a wild celebration as he ran randomly around the yard and then jumped on the Frisbee placed as home plate – just the way I’d taught him. My dream was coming true!
The only problem is that as the years went by, in spite of my encouragement, it became clear that Daniel didn’t have the patience for baseball. “This is dumb! I stood in the outfield for four innings and never touched the ball!”
One former NFL player, James Harrison, sent out an Instagram message regarding his two sons receiving “participation trophies” even though they didn’t win anything.
Harrison, the youngest of 14 kids and a two-time Super Bowl winner himself, struck a chord with many who believe that trophies should be given to those who “earned” them and not simply to those who “tried their best”.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)
I remember the sign on the men’s dorm wall during my freshman year at a Christian college.
A spiritual disciplines checklist was posted for us to keep track of our “progress” (monitored by a well-meaning resident assistant). I am wired for variety, not daily routines, and I felt ashamed every time I missed checking off the boxes in the “Jim J.” section: daily devotional time, prayer, fellowship, witnessing, tithing. (At least I got tithing – 10% of 0 income.)
I felt ashamed that I wasn’t measuring up, even to the point of checking boxes just so no one would know that I wasn’t making very good Christian progress. Good thing there was no check-box about honesty.
I’ll never forget her statement. I was speaking to a grade-school teacher in a Christian school about behavior problems with her students. In the context of the conversation she actually seemed more upset about the obedient kids than the defiant ones.
She declared, “I can always tell the kids parented by strict parents who follow parenting programs that demand first-time obedience. They do what you say but take no risks. They won’t give answers unless they know they’re right.The kids who fight back, they are usually the bold ones, the creative ones, the energetic ones. Many of them are leaders. I love the chance to shape these kids!”
Jim here. I’m really excited about our Discipline That Connects Online Course! There’s one idea in it that we’ve developed over the years that we just love to share because it has helped so many parents. So here it is!
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Here are some additional blog posts about a few of the topics I mentioned:
As many of us prepare for our annual Christmas gift exchanges, it can be easy to be caught up worrying about making sure that everyone has the perfect gift, or that all the kids get something they wanted, or that all the gifts are fair.
It can be easy in all the rush to forget that we in the United States are already rich in comparison with most of the rest of our world-neighbors. The most alarming of the many statistics is that nearly half the world lives on less than $2 per day per person. That’s not just for food – that’s for everything!
It’s one thing to know this and talk about it in passing from time to time. It’s another to illustrate it and talk in depth about it with your kids. Let it sink in. Discuss and pray through what you want to do about it.