Fostering Contentment in Our Children

We live in one of the most marketed-to cultures in all of history.

For example, when my son Dilly was just learning to talk (between the ages of 2 and 3) he would see all the signs that are beside the highway as we travel into the city. Though he couldn’t read, he could tell which was Dairy Queen, A and W, Tim Horton’s, Etc.

It’s funny how he didn’t even know how to read, yet he could tell you what the signs said.

Now you might say, why does that matter? Well, it matters because the exposure does help shape his future ideas and even how he will behave when he grows up.

Sometimes our kids watch Disney junior online. Funny thing is, the commercials aren’t just for toys. Sometimes they even have commercials for cars. I don’t think it’s just because some adult might be watching. They are working to make the next generation brand loyal to their product.

Now obviously, we can’t change the society we are living in its entirety.

It is the way it is.

We can, however, help our children grow up to be the difference in a world where everyone wants to be the same.

President Andrew Jackson said, “You must pay the price if you want to secure the blessing. If you do not pay the price of intensity, momentum, attention span, and initiative you will pay the price of mediocrity. You will just be normal, and who in their heart of hearts really wants to just be normal?”

I have read statistics that say only 2% of the population are the inventors, the innovators,  and the world changers.

We need to train our children that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to think for ourselves. My husband and I regularly challenge our young children in the way that they think. We challenge them to think about how much those things they want cost. We challenge them to save up their commission for some of the items they might want. At one point, our nine-year-old actually saved up money and bought a $90 camera.

So since we live in a culture of bombardment, I believe it is doubly important for us as parents to teach and model contentment. This is an area where we definitely to work on ourselves as parents first. We had made a lot of changes to our finances, but once I began to have a heart change, (that is, I realized that I didn’t need to have everything I wanted) things really changed.

What does this change mean?

It means being okay with having just one bathroom for now as we’ve chosen to use our money for other things that don’t include finishing the second bathroom.

This is an area where more is caught than taught.

This isn’t to say that we don’t teach contentment, but it’s definitely important to mean what we say, as well as do what we say.

We believe it’s important that we recognize that we don’t need everything we want. We need to remember that no matter our financial situations, we are among the top blessed people in the world. We need to start believing that. Contentment doesn’t come from having more. It is a condition of the heart.

1 Timothy 6:6 says, “Godliness with contentment is a great gain.”

Contentment says, “Yes, it’s mighty inconvenient to have people banging on the door in the middle of a shower, but I am blessed to have a shower…”

Our happiness (joy really) doesn’t come from getting more. It comes from knowing Jesus. Here are some ways to foster contentment taken from Dave Ramsey’s and his daughter Rachel Cruze’s book “Smart Money, Smart Kid’s.”

Foster an attitude of gratitude

Zig Ziglar used to say “you have to develop an attitude of gratitude. You have to learn to count your blessings. Have you ever thought about what you would pay for an eye if yours were put out? Have you ever thought about what you would pay to replace one of those amazing things you have at the end of each arm-that miraculous machine called a hand? We all have things to count as blessings, but we also have a tendency to lose our sense of awe and our sense of gratitude. Make sure your heart is full of gratitude for the blessings in your own life.”

Dave Ramsey says he believes “gratefulness starts with humility. Humility is the God-given self-assurance that eliminates the need to prove to others the worth of who you are, and the rightness of what you do.”

C.S. Lewis once said “that humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

See the difference?

True humility is more about thinking of yourself less, taking the focus off yourself.

Off what you do or don’t have and putting it on the needs of other people.

The best way to nurture a spirit of humility and other-centeredness is to encourage a heart of giving in your child. I want you to see the trail that runs from giving to humility to gratitude to contentment. It’s a progression that leads your child out of the land of discontentment and toward an incredible life of joy and freedom. When your child is focused on meeting the real needs of others through giving, it becomes harder and harder for him to focus on his wants. As giving becomes a natural part of your child’s character, you’ll see his whole perspective change.

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