Needs & Desires

Philippians 2:3-4, thinking of others, teaching children to think of others
In the last 40-50 years, there's been a shift in Christian thinking that often makes the family, especially children, an idolatrous priority. 

I believe this shift is a response to previous "silent generations" of workaholic parents who neglected the family or failed to interact on a personal level with their children. 

But we've gone too far. 

I first heard it at a Bible study: Whenever our children want something we should drop everything and "be there for them." It was presented as part of building our children's self-esteem, being a good mom, putting our family first, being unselfish, assuring our children they were loved.

Many Most of us bought into it, to one extent or another. 

And it continues to influence most Christian moms today. But research shows we damage children if we teach them that the world revolves around their desires.
See A Wheel, Not a List where I explain Biblical Priorities aren't a rigid list.

Yes, multiple studies are now showing that high self-esteem, not low self-esteem, is the cause of selfishness, low achievement and criminal behavior.*

Christian children raised in the last 30-40 years tend to have more self-confidence than previous generations, but they're also more self-centered and less content than previous generations. 

In our desire to serve our families, we've ignored the trustworthy principles in God's Word without realizing we were doing it. 

But we can reverse things in our family by letting Philippians 2:3-4 be our guide:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." 



If we make God our #1 priority, we will never neglect the needs of our children, but we will:
  • Always put the needs of others above our children's desires.
  • Teach our children to put the desires of others above their own desires frequently.
Why? Because it's what God tells us to do, and it creates a healthy self-esteem, not an inflated one, making children other-centered, not self-centered.
 
I have one final caution about the rigid priority list we Christians have created. I discuss it in Selfish Marriages.
* Can Too Much Self-Esteem Be Bad for Your Child?
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8 comments:

  1. Amen, girl!

    Again, thanks for linking up!
    -The Mrs

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  2. So true!! I agree that the pendulum has swung too far to the point where families revolve around the children's needs and wants. Excellent post!

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  3. Thanks for the thought! I couldn't agree more. It's impossible to meet children's every desire but worse it's destructive to the child, the marriage and the family!

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  4. What a great reminder! Sometimes, I feel guilty when I can't meet my kids' desires immediately, but this is such a wonderful reminder of the truth that my kids will actually benefit from not having every desire handed over to them immediately :). And... a relief to me as I seek to do my best but find it constantly imperfect.

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  5. I agree! I really like the Baby-wise series of books. It gives lots of great reasons to be a family centered parent instead of a kid-centered parent. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

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  6. This is so true!! As parents, I want to help my children with anything that they need help with but it is easy to give them too much. We had a conversation with my daughter who is doing online college. We aren't able to totally help her financially. We feel bad, but yet know that is better for her. Her response was that she wouldn't want total financial assistance from us because it would make her ungrateful.

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  7. I agree, too. This has damaged so many young people that will have a difficult time in marriage because they feel entitled to have all that's coming to them. Also, they see us getting all we want. Praise god we had a perspective reversal years ago. We still need to guard against idolizing our children.

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  8. Absolutely agree! Shortly after I became a stay-at-home mom, I found the wonderful world of blogging. I got sucked into Christian mommy blogs because, in general, they encouraged me to truly pursue godliness. However, some of them pushed convictions on me that the Bible never mentions; one being that we {moms} cannot/should not have a life outside of our kids because they are our first disciples. Now, I would agree that we should be discipling our children, but not at the expense of sharing the gospel with the rest of the world.

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