Countercultural Parenting

When one of my children was in lower school, she was invited to a party at a friend’s house.  The friend’s mother asked my daughter to bring one of her toys, which happened to be the trendy “toy-of-the-hour”. 

When I told the mom we didn’t have that toy, she replied, “Oh, I just bought my child one because they said they were the only one in the whole grade without it!”

There have been numerous times my kids have felt left out because we opted not to give them something they wanted, either because we felt they weren’t ready for it or because we felt they didn’t need it. In those times, it has felt like we were the only ones not giving our kids the things the world was telling us they needed. 

Sometimes, it feels like it would be easier to give in simply to avoid the chance that our kids might feel left out or isolated. 

Last week’s Life+ introduced the importance of identifying some of the common lies we fall prey to as parents.  This week, we’re diving into a lie that can so easily derail our best parenting plans: My child is the only one without (fill in the blank)”.

How do we determine if withholding something is the best thing for our child?  How do we know if we should give in?

Experience is often the best teacher.

In my experience, I have found that giving in once often leads to further trouble and discontent.  As I mentioned earlier, this started an early age with my children.  At first it was a toy–and even though my child would have been fine with the toy (we really just didn’t have the money for it at the time), that was only the beginning. Not long after, it was a device, then a phone, then social media, then a car. The list of things they “need” continues to grow, just as they do. 

I would like to offer three important considerations for making decisions around the idea that our child is the only one without something.

parenting considerations

Are they really the only one without (fill in the blank)?  

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a parent meeting for an upcoming field trip and we were discussing cell phone usage on the bus ride. One parent raised her hand and asked “What if my child is the only child who doesn’t have a phone?” Several parents chimed in that her child was not alone and indeed there were other children who didn’t have phones.  The parent was encouraged that she was not alone in her decision to withhold the cell phone.  

Are we really alone in our decision?

We have mentioned before in Life+ the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded parents. This is definitely worth reiterating!

There may be times when we truly are alone in our decisions about what is best for our kids and it is important we hold firm to our convictions even if we are alone.  However, it’s possible–and not uncommon–to feel alone when we really aren’t alone. When we start connecting with other parents, we find others that feel the same way.  So, again, surround yourself with like-minded parents. Have dinner with them.  Have your kids around their kids.  It will make you feel supported and even though your child may not admit it, they will be glad to know they are not alone.

CONSIDERATION #3 (the most vital):
Are you using the Bible as your guide?

In Philippians 3:18-20, the apostle Paul reminds us to avoid living lives that look no different than the world around us.  Specifically, he says that an enemy of the cross “has a mind set on earthly things” whereas those with a mind set on Christ have “citizenship in heaven.”  Because our citizenship is in heaven–and not here on earth–we are called to live a life that looks different than the rest of the world.

So, what does this different, set-apart life look like?

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”  

His secret? Thinking on heavenly things, rejoicing always in the Lord, and allowing God’s peace to guide his life instead of trying to find contentment through things the world offers.  

Don’t be afraid to ask questions like “Will (fill in the blank) teach my child contentment? Is giving my child (fill in the blank) encouraging him/her to pursue heavenly citizenship or setting his/her mind on things of this world?”  

As parents, we can let these opportunities lead us into discussions about godly contentment and thinking on heavenly things.  We can then teach our children that there are appropriate times and reasons for certain items (devices, cars, etc); however, the reason should never be because everyone else has one.  

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:6
Neely Langhals, Hilton Head Christian Academy Mentor
Neely Langhals
Spiritual Life Mentor

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