For moms, dads and grandparents: When giving gifts this year, give just one or two things from your Santa Claus lists, so that the next generation grows up believing in its own hard work and not expecting everything to come easy. It also teaches them that things – material possessions – do not equal love.
Give firm boundaries. Discipline is the other half of praise and affection. Kids don’t need threats and promises, just the expectation of simple commands followed right away with consequences if they are not, nor promises of things if they do something right. We need to expect good behavior and be surprised when they go off the path.
Don’t give pity, sympathy or bribes such as things, money, trips or entertainment. Whatever you teach them to expect as children, they will continue to expect in life, which is one reason our prisons are bursting at
the seams. Giving children too much help leads to addiction to things, drugs, alcohol and food. Exemplify contentment.
The best gifts you can give your child are quality time in conversation, answering questions, turning off the TV and other electronic devices except for a few hours per week (decreasing their chances of poor school performance, diabetes, heart disease and obesity), and praying with and for them specifically. Children need the gifts of independence and trust (set boundaries but let them explore), purpose (you need them), and respect (if you say you’re going to do something, do it). From toddler hood, they need increasing chores, and need to see you work and how you set everything aside to do it.
The greatest gift is your own visible dependence on God to guide you. Our children need to learn to ask God for their needs, not wants, this Christmas, and show thanksgiving for our nation’s liberties and abundance, even as many of us feel bruised from election results.