A Guide for the Hip Aunts and Uncles
So I’ve seen first-hand how parents want what’s best for their children. They’re willing to do everything they can to ensure that their child is happy. Many parents give in to all of their child’s requests and some clean up after them when they’re old enough to do it themselves.
The trouble is, this habit can lead to cultivating a child’s sense of entitlement.
First, let me make a quick a disclaimer: I’m not a parent. But I have spent a lot of time with young people.I’ve taught Bible lessons to children at my local church for most of my adult life, I was a high school teacher for eight years, and I’m also a (self-professed) cool and loving aunt of two cute, adorable little girls.
Why are people self-centered?
Amy McCready, the founder of Parenting Solutions, says that “The entitlement epidemic usually begins with over-parenting—over-indulging, over-protecting, over-pampering, over-praising, and jumping through hoops to meets kids endless demands.”
And statistics show that this is getting out of hand—entitled and self-centered kids are becoming entitled and self-centered adults.
If you don’t want to raise entitled kids—and adults—consider these 3 steps:
1. SHARE YOUR OWN PERSONAL STORIES ABOUT GOD.
Before my eldest niece turned a year old, I would pray with her before eating. At first, she would just copy my motions—eyes closed, and muffled answers. But at three years old, she asked me why we needed to pray. So I told her about the many times that God answered my prayers.
As adults, we learn to consider what God wants for us because we recognize how much He has done for us at different points in our lives. But for a young child, that relationship can be difficult to understand, especially because they’re only starting to get to know God. Their experience with Him is limited. That’s where you come in.
As you tell your kids about the good ol’ days, include stories of how God helped you get through your challenges. Did He provide for your family at a tough time in your life? How did God take care of you when you were young? Storytelling is a powerful way of teaching children. Letting them hear about how God rescued you at your difficult times, makes God’s power and presence feel real to them. And once they realize how much God provides for us, they’ll understand why their motivation and decisions in life should include God.
2. BE A RESOURCE, NOT A WAY OUT.
When I used to teach high school, my least favorite time of the year was parent-teacher nights. Don’t get me wrong, I take pride in talking about my students’ accomplishments. The problem was, a majority of the parents didn’t want to talk about their child’s accomplishments, instead, they were there to help their child get a better grade than what they’ve earned. They were fighting their children’s battles for them and taking away the important lesson of accountability.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t get involved in your child’s life—you should know how they’re doing in their studies and extracurricular activities. But don’t solve their problems for them. Instead, offer advice. Encourage them to reflect on their own actions before blaming their shortcomings on others. Remember, there’s a difference between making their decisions for them and being helpful as they make their own decisions. And if they’re still afraid of doing things on their own, remind them to depend on what God can do for them.
3. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
For some people, being mindful about everything that God provides is intrinsic. They consider it common knowledge. But here’s the thing—children can only adopt practices that they can see. They need to see and hear how God provides everything for you and your family—from the food you eat, the opportunity you have to work for a living, to the friendships that you enjoy. Being grateful is positive energy that can benefit your children. And hearing it from the people they trust most—their parents—makes a difference. So take the time to practice gratitude. Start with each other—let your child know why you’re grateful that God placed them in your life, and encourage them to do the same with other members of your family.
Focus on what God wants them to do
Helping them become aware of God’s blessings in their lives may help them focus more on what God wants them to do—actions that not only serve themselves, but can also benefit others.
This blog was written by Michelle Barreda with biblical support by Donald Pinnock, a minister of the gospel of the Church Of Christ.
Michelle Barreda is the fresh cup of coffee that you need in the morning, but can’t handle in the afternoon. Aside from kickboxing, she geeks out about writing and anything music-related. This is her first blog on incmedia.org.
Donald has been an ordained minister in the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo) for over 27 years. He hosts the show The Solution, where he helps individuals find solutions to their life’s problems using only the Bible.