Raising Our Children to Be Givers in a Culture Infected by Affluenza
Teach them to your children and to their children after them (Deuteronomy 4:9)
As I stop to think about my experiences as a child at Christmas, I have to admit I’m a bit ashamed. Mine was not a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving - I was particularly jealous of my peers, who in my mind had parents that simply gave them the things they wanted - toys, video games, etc. I obsessed over what I perceived to be life’s inequalities - “That’s not fair!” - and when it came to Christmas, handed my parents a JC Penny catalog marked with what likely equaled hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of toys I wanted and expected would be under that tree come Christmas morning. I was always profoundly disappointed when my parents (wisely) chose one or two major items on the list. My attitude destroyed my joy and set my heart up to later make some very poor choices when it came to material possessions.
As I look at my 3-year old son and 6-year-old daughter, I see some of the same issues at work in their own hearts. They live in a world where everything is at their fingertips - toys, entertainment, food - and they expect and demand that what they want be done RIGHT NOW!. My wife and I both desire with all our hearts for our kids to have hearts of gratitude and generosity, and struggle with how exactly to teach and model this.
Randy Alcorn talks about this very issue in his blog titled “Raising Our Children to Be Givers in a Culture Infected by Affluenza.” His main point - WE as parents are the ones who need to be teaching our children about generosity. How do we do this? By living it out - words = action. We model a life of generosity and discipline. Alcorn says, “Many people who want their children to develop hearts for God overlook the one thing that Jesus explicitly says will move our children’s hearts toward Heaven—giving our earthly treasures resulting in treasures in Heaven. Jesus says our hearts will follow those treasures (Matthew 6:19-21).”
He also has some great ideas; one I really liked was getting our children involved the decision-making process about giving. Choose several giving projects, then let the kids share their thoughts about them and choose the one they feel is best for the family.
Is this easy, particularly in our “affluenza” culture here in America? No - but our children’s eternal destiny may hinge on whether or not they grasp our Savior’s generosity towards them. Let’s give our kids the gift of generosity this Christmas!