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 reported that 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.
When kids misbehave, often our default is to pray for patience or even for the misbehavior to go away.
But have you ever thought about thanking God for your kids’ misbehavior?
Check out the powerful way this mom of three looked for the gifts behind her kids’ misbehavior, and then thanked God for it!
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!”
We’re excited to share with you the story of Kyle*, a child who has struggled with perfectionism and explosive anger, and his mom, Brenda. After reading Discipline That Connects, and considering how she might approach Kyle’s behavioral challenges differently than in the past, Brenda decided to make a change in her discipline. Brenda was able to more effectively teach about grace and good behavior by looking at Kyle’s strengths–in the midst of his weaknesses. We were blessed to hear her amazing solution — and we know you will be, too!
Our son Kyle was an intense perfectionist – hard on himself and others. His big emotions would erupt in strong, hurtful, or colorful words. After such an explosion Kyle would be engulfed by a tsunami of remorse and shame. “I’m a bad kid! Nobody will ever like me. I’m going to hell because that’s where bad people go!” If we tried to console him by contradicting this terrible self-hatred he would yell “Shut up!!” and run to his room.
When God decided which of his children would be key leaders he avoided the step-in-line, shiny-looking ones. In fact, when we look in scripture at some well-known “Bible heroes,” we see that God chose some serious screwups to guide his precious people:
- Moses – Impulsively murdered an Egyptian man. Went on the lam for 40 years.
- Saul/Paul – Determined to destroy the church at all costs. Orchestrated the arrest, persecution, and even murder of Christians.
- Peter – A short-fused poster child for impulsivity. Biggest disciple screw-up. Told Jesus five times that he was wrong.
Two murderers and an ADHD poster child. Not exactly a crew that we would expect to give spiritual leadership seminars or impress the religious elite.
Why did God choose them? Because all the intensity and passion behind their “misbehavior” could be re-directed for Kingdom purposes.
Have you ever wondered what your family is “all about”? I asked this of coaching clients Ted and Dawn recently. They had come seeking help because their kids seemed ever more defiant, selfish, and irresponsible.
Eager to understand their family I asked them, “What would your kids say are the driving values you want to be sure they learn in your home? You know, how would they answer the question, ‘What is our family all about?’” Ted and Dawn weren’t sure. So I invited them to role play it with me. I played them and they played their kids. It went something like this: