Tag Archives: Mothering Toddlers

Materialism Vs Mom: Part 2

Happy Black Friday!! The most crazy, consumer driven day of the year!

In the wake of an advertising crazed Christmas season, how can we as parents help our kids view stuff in the right perspective?

Despite our intention as parents to teach our children that spiritual and mental things are more important then the many cool toys, clothes, and possessions around us, we live in a society that depends on consumerism. How can we help help our children to now be taken in by materialism?

In the last article, we talked about Step 1: To Limit.

This article deals with Step 2: To Help them deal with the materialist temptations that are sure to come.

1. Help them learn to think about things in a certain way

-Help them view what they have as A LOT

-Talk about how much they have in a positive way

“Wow, we have a whole BOX of toys! We are so blessed!”

“You have TWO dolls! How special to have so much!”

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     -Help them know the value of a dollarEven though my kids are 1, 2, and 3, we have an allowance system for the two older ones.-Help them view things correctly in the store

When they ask for the toy at the store, help them to realize that:

1. They don’t need it 

2. If they get it, they will not be able to use what they already have.

Things that work great to say to my kids:

“If you get this, we need to get rid of some toys at home. Do you want to get rid of some of your toys?”

“If you get this, you won’t be able to play with the toys you have. That would be sad!”

“It would not be responsible to get this toy when we have so much at home!”

“You already have 3 cars & you only have 2 hands! How would you carry this?”

The war continues, but I can honestly say that I think my kids are getting a better grasp of reality of need and want then I did.

Of course I do just say “no,” to some things like any parent and other times I allow them to purchase the item with their own chore money.

However, my bigger goal (like any parent) is help them get a bigger view of ‘stuff.’ In the end, I want them to realize that ‘stuff’ does not make them happy, and that they can find contentment in the many blessings (spiritual and physical) that God has already given them.

In the coming month, we’ll be focusing more on a meaningful Christmas season that helps our children focus on Christ, family, and giving.

What things work to help your kids battle materialism and gain a bigger perspective on ‘stuff?’

- Verity

It was another one of those shopping trips.

The type where everything seems to be going okay. You are completely in control and then something happens…

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For us it was about 8 feet from the register. (We were on the home stretch! That close!)

This was when the 8 month old pooped her diaper. She hates, hates being poopy.

But we were EIGHT feet from the register.

Always optimistic, I headed through the line in hopes of checking out quickly and then going to the bathroom with my cart full of paid for groceries and 3 squirming children.

Like it was going to be quick.

This was when the two year old discovered the candy!

“Put it back with its friends” I told her. She did. Only to find another bar to hold up a moment later. “Put it back with its friends too.” I echoed.

The three year old was sitting amidst the groceries and to my relief began loading the conveyer belt full of them.

I was one handed now – giving in to the eight month old who was swinging over my arm because she didn’t want to sit in her poop.

Still semi- under control.

We were doing okay until the three year old found a head of cabbage that did not have a produce bag.

“Oh no!!!” He burst out “It doesn’t have a bag!! Mama! We need to get a bag!”

“No, it’s okay. It will be okay without a bag today.”

This was too much for him. I lost my helper at that moment.

And my voice seemed to sound like a constant stream.

“Put it back with its friends.It really will be okay without a bag. The lady will put it in a bag. Oh! I have some coupons!! Here they are! Put that candy back with its friends too! Oh. I meant to buy those stamps with a different credit card. Can you take them off now? Oh, you can’t? Okay. That’s okay I guess. They all go back with their friends!! Now, see? Now she put it in a bag! It’s all better! Okay guys! Hold on to the cart!! Now we are all going to walk forward! You need to hold on too! Hurry!”

We finally were done. (Only needing to round up the two year old twice who today discovered the wonderful game of duck around the corner and see if Mama notices). She did come every time she was called, but it was hard to look calm and collected with an increasingly frustrated poopy baby hanging in mid-air and an OCD preschooler who suddenly had passionate opinions about the buying process of our vegetables.

After the bathroom, I got in the car exhausted. Control was gone.

All three were crying because it was 12:14, and they were hungry. The Ramen noodles I’d promised the 3 year old had somehow been missed in the rush, and he, who had been so good and helpful for the shopping trip, was deeply disappointed and feeling quite betrayed.

Before I could cry too, there was a knock on the window.

It was a woman around my age.

“I just wanted to say I’m so impressed with you.” she said.

She waved into the car at the three red-faced kids, and they all simultaneously stopped crying to watch her.

Getting out for a moment to talk to her, I was deeply encouraged by her kind words.

I got back in the quiet car feeling greatly lightened.

And driving home, I reflected on the trip. We’ve had many frustrating shopping trips, and it was easy to be discouraged that we had had yet another. However, I was not.

I realized that:

The 3 year old had done a great job obeying and helping today.

The 2 year old needed to work on not touching and not running, but she also obeyed when told to put items back and to come.

And someone gave me a compliment. :-) :-) :-)

So if you are a tired Mom: There is hope! It feels like the struggle with their little selfish hearts is endless, but it’s not. They have victories, and when they gain victory in one area the old struggles are replaced with different struggles. That is part of growth Then you help them through those too. Don’t let this be discouraging. Focus on the victories. Praise them for them, and realize that they will gain victory over the new areas of struggle.

And if you are not a tired Mom at this time in your life and you see a Mom who is trying really hard somewhere, tell her she is doing a good job. Momhood is pretty thankless. Chances are you will make her month.

That kind stranger made mine. :-)

- Verity

Mom’s Musings: Ministry When You Have Littles

Far and away the hardest part of being a mom with small children has been the lack of ministry opportunities. It seems to be a perpetual struggle as I watch others enjoy the gift of ministering in the church while I tend to my little brood and struggle to keep everyone’s diaper clean for the duration of Sunday morning.

Before marriage and children, I loved being a part of any ministry available. Children’s ministries, teen ministries, fellowships, hospitality, piano, singing, leading, teaching, counseling, puppets, decorating. You name it. I wanted to be involved and playing a key role. I told myself that it was because I wanted to be a servant, but honestly, I really liked being a leader. I loved being the one on the front lines – teaching, planning, and delegating. I felt like I would make the most difference for eternity if I was ministering in key positions in the church.

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For the last few years, the doors seemed perpetually closed. Either because I knew I couldn’t keep up with my wife and mother responsibilities and have to say ‘no’ to the very few ministries I could do or because we started attending a church that simply doesn’t have many teaching roles for women.

After much struggle, deep discouragement, and dark days, I finally came to some conclusions.

  • I realized that it is normal for a wife and mother to have to attend to her house first. (1 Corinthians 7) The decision to marry and have children simply makes you have to focus on the things of the world more – simply to survive. Unless you really are ordained by God to be celibate, it is part of His plan for you to have a family and children and while you can still minister, they are YOUR FIRST CALLING. How many pastor’s children walk away from God? Our children cannot be sacrificed on any altar – not even the altar of ministry!
  • I realized that God does not NEED anyone in ministry. It doesn’t matter that I had a lot of experience or education geared to help me be an ‘asset’ in ministry. God needs NOONE. He ALLOWS us to minister because He is kind to us and ALLOWS us to be a part of His work. Years of pride and feeling ‘needed’ fell by the wayside as I saw other less-capable, less educated people be used by God as I sat on the benches.
  • I realized that motherhood IS a ministry and a high calling. I used to feel sorry for people who were not going into full time Christian service. When my husband needed to stop seminary because we could no longer continue and support our growing family, I struggled more then he did. Was my life going to be wasted now!?? I struggled with depression for months. I was missing the ministry in front of my eyes. My little souls watching my every move.
  • I realized that ministry comes in many forms. Ministry is not always in the spotlight or leading up an organized program. I had to look around. God had to convict me about my selfishness. Slowly, I began to see forms of ministry that I had been too proud to acknowledge before. A kind note, a frozen dinner, an empathetic question to a hurting church member, being willing to JOYFULLY (that’s the hard part) keep the kids busy for an hour (or two or three) after church so my husband could help a church family or be there for a weary friend.

This week the subject of ministry has resurfaced because two families need help with moves, and I can’t help in the way I’d like. (Third term pregnancy makes me a useless box lifter and lack of baby-sitters means I wouldn’t help much at the moves but rather chase my kids around.) This time, rather then plummet into discouragement, I’ve been able to acknowledge my limitations and consider what I can do – freezer meals and a joyful attitude and encouraging attitude toward my husband (who is a GREAT packer after being a missionary kid and a GREAT box mover after 5 years of working for FedEx.)

So in the coming weeks, I probably won’t be able to help these two families move in the normal way. I can’t lift things; I can’t come pack things up. However, I can recognize that the ministries I do have are still a blessing and a high calling, and I can seek God’s grace to do them in a way that glorifies Him. 

In some ways it can take even more grace and dependence to wash the church dishes in a joyful and God-focused way then it can to teach a church Sunday School. I’m learning to show my children what real ministry is.

- Verity