Be careful not to let anyone rob you of this faith through a shallow and misleading philosophy. Such a person follows human traditions and the world’s way of doing things rather than following Christ. (Colossians 2:6-8, GWT)
With the holiday season just around the corner, I'm sure I'm not the only parent who is beset by a revised Christmas list from her children each day. Surrounded by other young kids in school, they're able to compare notes as to who has what and who has more. Their focus is too easily on what they don't have that either the television tells them they need or their own envy ruminates over what their peers possess. It's enough to make a Christian mom feel like she's been completely unsuccessful at teaching her kids what is important in the eyes of God.
From birth we immerse our children in stories of Jesus and the selfless life He lead. We enroll them in Sunday School, AWANA and Christian schools. We emphasize from toddler age on the importance of sharing and giving to others. And we make every attempt to surround our children with those who share our common values. We even involve our families in acts of charitable giving. Yet, the world and its shallow priorities has a way of creeping in.
Despite our best efforts, the carnal character of our kids rears its ugly head this time of year. And it just adds to the stress as the holidays loom!
When our kids have special needs, how we deal with this can also become clouded. We may buy into the lie that because our child lacks social awareness due to a disability, they aren't capable of being thankful or selfless. Many children suffer through painful disorders or uncomfortable procedures. This can make us vulnerable to giving in to their every whim or desire just to overcompensate for the perceived injustice of what they endure. Sheer exhaustion from dealing with our child's special needs can also cause us to cave in or fail to fight their case of "the gimme's".
Take heart! There are some key ways to combat this entire situation:
- First and foremost, be deliberate! Focus your attention and actions on dealing with this dilemma.
- Realize that your children are little humans "in training". They are learners and you are the teacher. You are fitting them with life skills that will travel with them when they leave your care.
- Share God's word with your child on every level. As today's scripture passage states, "Sink your roots in him and build on him." Reading a children's Bible with them each night before bed is a great way to end each day. Coloring pages and videos are effective tools as well. If we keep saturating that child with what God has to say, good will come of it because He promises that His word will not return to him void. (See Isaiah 55:11)
- If your child is lacking in the social skills area due to autism or other such disorders, realize that successful adults with such diagnoses will tell you that they learned these skills by observing others. In other words, break things down piece by piece to help that child connect the dots that come naturally to the rest of us. Use tools like those by Model Me Kids to learn some basics.
- If you find yourself overcompensating, stop now! Nothing you ever buy will replace your child's disabled parts! Further, you foster an ugly attitude of entitlement in that child when you succumb to such behavior. Instead, help that child to see what they do have versus what they don't have. What an amazing person you will grow if they move through their adult years showing others that the glass is half-full rather than half-empty!
- Engage in some fun, meaningful activities that make the message stick! This time of year, it's fun to make a tree out of old grocery bags & tape it to a closet or pantry door. Have the kids write something they are grateful for on a leaf each day & attach it to the tree. As they focus on what they're thankful for, "the gimme's" become smaller in their lives. For more fun, meaningful family activities visit Focus on the Family's retail store.
- Last but not least, persist! Weary as you may be, stick with it and know that repetition is the mastery of all skills. Your home is a testing ground for your child's behavior and character. While you may not feel like you're making progress under your own roof, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised when you receive reports from others about your child's attitudes and actions when they're away from home.