I Chronicles 29:11 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Deep Thought Thursday: Teaching Moderation

Maybe when you think of the word moderation, you think of food. Chances are if you're involved with Fitness Friday at all, then it's something you think of daily. And more than once daily.

While it's an excellent idea to teach the concept of food moderation to our children, I believe the idea goes far beyond just that. Moderation is to be a way of life.

Philippians 4:5 "Let your moderation be known unto all men."

If our moderation is to be known to all men, then it is to affect every area of our lives. We cannot be known as a spendthrift, or a gorger, or "the lady with fifteen thousand hats", or "the lady who over-reacts to everything", and have people know our moderation. We are to be in control of ourselves in every instance.

So let's expand the idea and apply it to, say, Christmas Wish Lists.

I know people who give their kids the huge Sears (or other store) catalog, full of toys, games, clothing, electronic gadgets, etc. and tell them to make a list. Write down whatever they want, regardless of price, style, whether they will really use it, or whether they have room for it.

Does this support a moderate thought process? I think not. Would you agree that it encourages greediness and covetousness? Mindlessly writing down every desire of their heart only sets them up for disappointment when they don't get each item on their list. What child thinks about the financial situation of their parents when they're given the go-ahead to think of only themselves?

Our children know when things are tight financially. Not because they need to know all of our adult business, but because it helps teach them financial moderation. When they want to eat out, or do something special, but we don't have the money, we explain to them why we cannot do whatever it is they've asked.

If a car needs repairs, they know about it because we pray about it as a family. We talk about what's going on, and remind each other we need to be good stewards.

When children given the catalog to make a Wish List see a doll house that costs $200 (excluding furniture of course) and they want it, and you've told them to write it down, they will think it's possible they could receive that (along with ten other things) from their list. It's just a set up for failure. I've seen children many times react with a pouty face and an unthankful heart after opening a huge pile of gifts because they didn't get the "one thing" they "really wanted". I don't want that to be my children.

So, what do I do instead? Well, I know my children. I pay attention to their interests and the things they like. I also know what my budget is. Armed with these two bits of priceless information, I can be sure to find some thing(s) they would really enjoy, rather than give them things that will end up in the back of the closet a week after Christmas.

There's nothing wrong with NOT asking them what they want.

If they have no expectations, they cannot be disappointed. They respond with thankfulness because I took the time to think and gave them something that fits their interests. We also usually give a family gift, like a game we can all play together. They open it together, they scream excitedly together, and they learn to share.

We also go through their toys before Christmas. Let's suppose they have fifteen stuffed animals. They are allowed to keep their favorite eight, and we get rid of the rest. (Donate, etc.) We do this with Barbies and everything. Then, when they have new things, there is room for it. We are not practicing moderation when we continue to pile things into our home when there's clearly no room for them.

We don't teach our children moderation by expecting them to "get it" when they're grown. We teach it to them through practical experience, modeling it ourselves, and molding their thought processes. Any thoughts?


  • Brenda

    We try to focus a lot on what we will be GIVING, not just getting. Of course they usually let their wishes be known, and Christmas is not the time that mom is suddenly going to lose her head and buy them something huge and extravagant b/c I say no to that stuff all year long. They know me, OK?
    I try to get them to think thematically. "I would like horse presents this year." or "I really like Dora." Now WHAT they get in that category is not up to them.

    And it helps that we tease them all the time that they will be getting socks and underwear for Christmas.

    But I really try to involve the girls in making gifts for their family and thinking of giving. Last year I dare say they were more excited about giving some of their gifts than what was under the tree for them. Amazing!

    Now having said all that, my older daughter has asked for something expensive this year and specific and she will get it. But it will come at the cost of not gettign as many presents--we made sure she knew that up front. I do love them and they will each get 1 really special gift. But NOT 20.

  • Brenda

    Seriously? Am I the only one on the topic with you?

    You know, it's very true about moderation in all areas. Even emotions--good point.

    And, here's a little gem that reminded me of this post. Carrie in Texas forwarded it to me today:


  • Terry @ Breathing Grace

    Sheila at To Love, Honor and Vacuum wrote a great post about how to end the gift giving chaos with our kids. I thought it was well written. Of course, her thoughts echo pretty closely what we are doing for our own kids this year. I just like the way she puts it.

    Our older kids are getting 3 things: One thing they want, one thing they need (this year winter clothes), and as always, a couple of good books.

    It's easier to go overboard with the babies but I'm working on a plan for that, too.

  • Joni

    Daniel and I have no choice but to limit our kids to three presents each this year. One nice present that they really want and two small things. We definitely have a lot of small toys that could either be donated or thrown away b/c they are missing pieces.
    I remember when we got family presents when we were kids. We loved it! It's a great idea. Julie, I think you hit the nail on the head...

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