This is apparently something I have not mastered yet. The boys love fighting over who gets the turtle that glows at bed time or whining about not being able to go to McDonald's every night for dinner as much as they have a heart for sharing. While vacation on the cruise ship I was able to play witness to grown children (adults) whine like children who did not get their way because the ship had engine problems and could not make it to its original destination. Despite the trip to a different island and a decent refund /person, all you could hear for the rest of the trip were temper tantrums, feet stomping and foul mouthed attitudes towards the crew of the ship. Demands for full refunds were flying left and right at the same time we were passing by
When we returned home we put forth more initiative in talking with the boys about appreciation for what they have. Not that we didn't do this before, but a refreshed effort has kicked in gear here. What led me to admit we have not mastered this yet is some of the boy’s responses. Although they are two of the sweetest boys I know who truly love others, it is difficult for a 4 and a 6 year old to have, for example, a full appreciation for the devastation in Haiti or what it would like to not have any toys and live in a one room hut.
My challenge to myself and others:
1 Keep the conversation going. Talk about this stuff at the dinner table, before bed as you pray with them or with teachable moments throughout the day. Get them serving with you at local charities, shelters or at church.
2 As any parent knows, our children mimic us. This includes our attitude and reactions. This also includes the people we allow in their life. A smart parent gets rid of the whiners, complainers and piss poor attitudes that surround their children. Reflect on your relationships and how they may influence your children. Get rid of them and be the example of gratitude.
3 This may sound extreme, but eliminate everything from their room and make them sleep on a mat on the floor without a blanket. This will work trust me! Okay, maybe a little extreme - so maybe just get better at not spoiling your children. As hard as it is to not want to give your children everything they need and sometimes want, they really can get by on much less. For example, Kel and I are big proponents of only a few gifts at Christmas and one small item for their birthday.
The last thing you want is your child at the age of 40 laying into some guy from Africa working 365 days straight on a ship away from his family living in a village without a decent well for clean water all because the "more than generous" refund that they received didn't compare to the heartache of having to go to Nassau instead of Jamaica. Could you imagine the disappointment?
HEY AMERICANS: STOP ACTING LIKE AMERICANS