Thinking Out Loud

December 6, 2015

With Christmas Coming, Do Your Kids Feel a Sense of Entitlement?

We never gave our kids an allowance. Not once. Working for ministry organizations and then owning a commercial ministry where we don’t pay ourselves a salary may have precluded it somewhat. But at the end of the day, I just didn’t see the point. Some kids are paid for being good. Our kids were good for nothing. [Rim-shot!] I just didn’t want them to think that we owed them anything.

We rarely bought our kids much of anything when we went to the mall. Perhaps never is a bit strong. The general presumption was that we were going to look, that the mall was a recreational destination where we would also do some comparison shopping and if the mood hit us, actually make a purchase. There was never the expectation that we would emerge carrying packages. The kids never thought that they were going to come away with increased personal possessions.

As a result, I think my children have a balanced perspective when it comes to materialism. In their mid-teens, they learned to pick up the tab for the things they needed or wanted on their own. It helped that both had paying jobs in high school. A part-time job at that age in our town is nothing short of a miracle.

Now they’re in their 20s. Both have a VISA card, and are well-versed in online banking. My youngest told me he feels guilty when he makes a large purchase. Maybe we need to tweak that attitude a little.

I felt both of them had a head-start when it came to money given the part time jobs. Some start even earlier. I wasn’t ready for the young girl who came into our store with a debit card. I think she was about nine years old. Okay, maybe ten. Not much more than that. It was one of those split-second moments of seeing something almost comedic, like when little boys would dress up in their father’s jackets and ties, back when their fathers actually wore jackets and ties. Maybe the analogy today is wearing their father’s shoes. (Not sure what the girl equivalent is; can tell me?)

The other side to consumerism is that I’ve tried to do is encourage our kids not to waste, because I believe the issue of materialism and the issue of waste go hand-in-hand. Maybe rationing the squares of toilet tissue is a bit much,* but certainly there’s no need for the second glass of the expensive treat we bought, such as Welch’s Grape Juice — the real stuff, not the Grape Cocktail their flogging now — or even a second glass of the cheaper apple juice.

Mind you, they’ve inherited that from me. I see food on the table and feel this desire for more. I had no siblings growing up, yet I seem to be in this constant competition for my fair share. At church potlucks, I tend to position myself close to the food table. I have a sense that all the other people in our congregation are people who will eat my share of the dinner if I do not guard it carefully. Not sure where I got that. But like father like son(s); the kids don’t like to miss out.

My youngest, aka Kid Too, was usually the first to take a piece of chicken or roast beef from the platter, a luxury of choice I was always taught is reserved for the cook, aka Mrs. W. He chooses well. He has taken a culinary course and knows the good pieces. The tender pieces. I always complain at that point that he just took “the best piece.” I am not trying to cause trouble. I sized up the platter before we said the blessing and already saw the piece that I considered the finest, and he took it. More competition.

At this point, I’m thinking of the title of the book by Francis Shaeffer’s daughter, Susan McAuley Schaeffer, How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig. I have been mastering this art for years, but not through actual pigging, but by ranting about the perceived pigging of everyone else.

As I write, it occurs to me that I probably wouldn’t be so obsessed about portion control if my youngest had shown more gratitude during those years. Actually, he does this a great deal, but in other areas. If he were to tell me how much he enjoys the times we purchase the more expensive grape juice, I would probably lavish him with more. He is changing with age however. When he comes home at Christmas I expect his sense of appreciation for all we do to have matured even more, though I still feel I should be saying grace with one eye open…

Then it hits me. That’s what God is waiting for. He has many good things in heaven’s storehouse which have me in mind. But he’s waiting for me to say thanks for what I have been given. As the Biblical story of the ten lepers teaches us, the thank-you rate is about 10%.


 

*I don’t actually ration toilet tissue, though I have been known to do calculations as to the number of squares that — hmmm …too much information?

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May 19, 2011

“You’ll Never Know How Much I Love You”

Today’s item is probably a bit non-characteristic, although if you look at the early posts on this blog, it’s actually a little closer to where I began.  We’re going through a rather stressful time right now, and yesterday it caused me to be a little emotional. I can’t promise tomorrow will be back to normal.

I’ve been thinking about that phrase, “You’ll never know how much I love you.”  My parents said it to me.  And last night I said it to my youngest son.  Until you’ve had children, you don’t know the degree to which you were loved by your own parents, if you were fortunate enough to grow up in a stereotypical family, or if you were blessed to be raised by a single parent who loved you dearly.  And even as your kids begin to go out into the world and stake their own territory, their own independence, instead of “letting go” you want to just grab them and hold them close.  Just one more time.

You never stop being a parent.

Roughly translated, the phrase means, “Because of limited experience, you do not presently have the capacity to understand the nature and depth of the love that I have for you; but when your own life circumstances allow you to begin to understand it, my love for you will only have increased even more.”

January 27, 2010

The Links Lynx is Back

The Wednesday Link List.    A Thinking Out Loud tradition for at least a few months now…

  • Say what you will about Rob Bell — and I know many of you would jump at the chance — but you’ve never experienced a better transition of a pastor from one church to another than when the people of Trinity Mennonite “gift” Shane Hipps to the people at Mars Hill Grand Rapids.   This link is valid for about ten more weeks, click on the sermon for 01.17.10 and listen to the first ten minutes.
  • Gary Molander also has an excellent post on the above item at the blog It’s Complicated, under the title Pastor Poaching.
  • I was going to include this last week, but hesitated.   First, it’s a six page article and secondly the first page is extremely graphic.   But I think this should be on your must-read list.   It compares a medical condition gynecologists call meno-metrorrhagia, with the condition of the hemorrhaging woman in Mark 5: 25-34, bringing modern science and historical background together to help us understand the passage more fully and also to focus on current conditions in Africa.   Check out “Jesus and the Unclean Woman” by L. Lewis Wall at Christianity Today.
  • This was actually posted to YouTube back in August, but it’s a great moment at the LoveSong reunion when pastor Chuck Smith introduces the song which, in many respects, marked the absolute beginning of today’s Contemporary Christian music.   If you’re into Christian music, this nine minute video shows you how it all began.
  • Jeff McQuilkin considers what it was like putting together a ‘worship show’ each week, from the perspective of someone who is no longer doing so.   Check out “The Show Must Go On” at The Communitas Collective.  (Read Jeff regularly at Losing My Religion.)
  • Jon Acuff is in classic form giving you a chance to rate the bumper sticker(s) on your vehicle(s), not to mention seven great new ones (and one cheesy one) of his own.   Check out Stuff Christians Like #694.  (It took 694 posts to get to bumper stickers?)
  • “If your kids are awake, they’re online.”   Albert Mohler discusses The Online Life of Kids.    Mohler writes well, but it’s not a true blog if you can’t leave comments.
  • The best books of 2009 you’ve never read:  It’s the Christianity Today Book Awards.   The more esoteric and eclectic, the better, right?   How about, as George Costanza might say, ‘book awards for the rest of us?’
  • Check out the various free image files available to your church — see sample at right — from CreativeMYK.com
  • Congratulations to blogger Carlos Whittaker (Ragamuffin Soul) on a deal with Integrity Music.   Check out a few of the songs here.
  • Don’t feel you learn enough reading blogs?   This week’s lynx is actually an Iberian lynx.   Wikipedia says, “It is the most endangered cat species in the world.  According to the conservation group SOS Lynx, if this species died out, it would be the first feline extinction since the Smilodon 10,000 years ago.”   Use that in a conversation in the next 24 hours.
  • I guess it had to happen. Is there anything we do in church life that doesn’t have its own seminar? An upcoming conference offers three workshops for people who staff the church coffee bar.   At least they’ll be well-trained.
  • Here’s a repeat link from six months ago: New Direction in Canada has put together a 4-week DVD curriculum,  Bridging the Gap: Conversations on Befriending Our Gay Neighbors. It includes 3-hours of video content and a 40-page leader guide with reproducible worksheets.   Material on this subject is badly needed.  Guests include Brian McLaren, Bruxy Cavey, Tony Campolo and eight more.   Read more about it, here.
  • He’s a 19 year old college student.   He seems like a good Christian kid.  He wants a tattoo.   Wants to put “Bought With A Price” on it.   Parents say no.   Time for Russell D. Moore at the blog Moore to the Point to sort it out.
  • If you’ve recently joined us, and you’re a woman who has a husband, father, son, brother or boyfriend who is hooked on pornography, check out a resource I wrote a couple of years ago, The Pornography Effect.  It’s a modified blog page where the chapters appear in order; clicking “previous posts” actually yields the next chapters, 7-15.  Takes about 50 minutes to read.
  • Today’s cartoon is from JAW Toons by Jay Allen:

HT for CreativeMYK = Kent Shaffer

No animals were harmed in the making of this week’s link list.  The idea of LoveSong as the true root of contemporary Christian music is open to debate if you consider the Catholic folk masses of the late 1960s, or the influence of Larry Norman.

December 11, 2009

Entitlement and Expectations With Kids

Filed under: parenting — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:46 pm

We never gave our kids an allowance.   Not once.   Working for ministry organizations and then having a commercial ministry where we don’t pay ourselves a salary may have precluded it somewhat.   But at the end of the day, I just didn’t see the point.   Some kids are paid for being good.   Our kids were good for nothing.  [Rim-shot!]   I just didn’t want them to think that we owed them anything.

We never bought our kids stuff when we went to the mall.   Not as a rule, anyway.   The general presumption was that we were going to look, that the mall was a recreational destination where we would also do some comparison shopping and if the mood hit us, actually make a purchase.   There was never the expectation that we would emerge carrying packages.   The kids never thought that they were going to come away with increased personal possessions.

As a result, I think my children have a balanced perspective when it comes to materialism.   And they are quickly learning to pick up the tab for the things they need or want on their own.   It helps that both have had paying jobs.   For the youngest, having a part-time job at his age in our town is nothing short of a miracle.

With one 15 and one 18, it will be interesting to see the consumer choices they make as they move toward greater independence.   My oldest, aka Kid one, now has a VISA card, and is already doing online banking.

That doesn’t scare me as much as the girl who came in my store last month with a debit card.   I think she was about nine years old.   Okay, maybe ten.  But not much more than that.    It was one of those split-second moments of seeing something almost comedic, like when little boys would dress up in their father’s jackets and ties, back when their fathers actually wore jackets and ties.   Maybe the analogy today is wearing their father’s shoes.   (Not sure what the girl equivalent is, maybe you can tell me?)

The other thing I’ve tried to do is encourage our kids not to waste, because I believe the issue of consumption and the issue of waste go hand-in-hand.   Maybe rationing the squares of toilet tissue is a bit much,* but certainly there’s no need for the second glass of the expensive treat we bought, such as Welch’s Grape Juice — the real stuff, not the Grape Cocktail their flogging now — or even a second glass of the cheaper apple juice.

Mind you, they’ve inherited that from me.   I see food on the table and feel this desire for more. I had no siblings growing up, yet I seem to be in this constant competition for my fair share.   Not sure where I got that.   But like father like son(s); the kids don’t like to miss out.

My youngest, aka Kid Too, is usually the first to take a piece of chicken or roast beef from the platter, a luxury of choice I was always taught is reserved for the cook, aka Mrs. W.   He chooses well.   He has taken a culinary course and knows the good pieces.   The tender pieces.   I always complain at that point that he just took “the best piece.”   I am not trying to cause trouble.   I sized up the platter before we said the blessing and already saw the piece  that I considered the finest, and he took it.

At this point, I’m thinking of the title of the book by Francis Shaeffer’s daughter, Susan McAuley Schaeffer, How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig. I have been mastering this art for years, but not through actual pigging, but by ranting about the perceived pigging of everyone else.

As I write, it occurs to me that I probably wouldn’t be so obsessed about portion control if my youngest would show more gratitude.   Actually, he does this a great deal, but in other areas.   If he were to tell me how much he enjoys the times we purchase the more expensive grape juice, I would probably lavish him with more.

Then it hits me.   That’s what God is waiting for.   He has many good things in heaven’s storehouse which have me in mind.   But he’s waiting for me to say thanks for what I have been given.   As the Biblical story of the ten lepers teaches us, the thank-you rate is about 10%.

*I don’t actually ration toilet tissue, though I have been known to do calculations as to the number of squares that — hmmm …too much information?

August 5, 2009

Time Passages: First Part Time Job

Filed under: family, parenting — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:16 pm
employmentAnother one of those “Time Passages” happened today.  My youngest son was supposed to be dropping off a resumé at a place where his brother worked last summer, but ended up working a three hour shift; has another scheduled for tomorrow; and six hours on Friday.   For me to phone home and ask how the “interview” went was rather moot; he’s already employed.   He woke up this morning a happy carefree teenager with no responsibilities, and ended the day as a member of the working class, who will now have to file a tax return next April.   Innocence lost.   Still, I don’t think we’d want it any other way.    Here’s the song lyrics from the second verse of the song by Al Stewart:

working_overtime

Well, I’m not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on
Are the things that don’t last
Well, it’s just now
And then my line gets cast into these
Time passages
There’s something back here that you left behind
Oh, time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

employment_cartoon

July 8, 2009

It’s Almost Naptime

Filed under: family, internet — Tags: , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:32 pm

In its earlier incarnation with another host, Thinking Out Loud was drawing a comfortable fifty readers per day.    I was happy that anybody was reading, but I think it’s a male trait to want to see the growth of any enterprise to which you’re giving oversight.

I put a blog counter on, and then joined Alltop Christianity, and later Alltop Church, and then more recently added Christian Blogs, whose icon is always in the sidebar of this blog.   (My first connection to this Christian website aggregator was David Fisher’s Pilgrim Scribblings blog, also listed in the sidebar.)

As this blog started to grow, and approach page one of Christian Blogs, and then the top ten, and then the top three, I started to feel bad about the idea of beating The Persecution Blog, the official blog of Voice of the Martyrs.   My idle ramblings somewhat pale next to people who are giving their lives for their faith.

Missy & Co from NaptimeBut I also became aware of It’s Almost Naptime.   Missy and Walker have had four kids in four years.   That’s a lot of laundry, and Missy doesn’t hesitate to photograph the pile of clothing next to the washer.

This is blogging at its most grassroots basic.   A true ‘web log’ of what it’s like having all those children underfoot.  No wonder Missy has hundreds of daily readers — over 900 one day last week.

But it’s also about the lessons that children teach us about ourselves and our Heavenly Father.      It’s raw, and it’s transparent and it’s sometimes like this:

I knew God loved me, he officially had to, the Bible tells me so, yeah yeah. But how could God possibly really love me, unconditionally, me being so stinky and sticky and such a flop at being a “good Christian”??

That’s a paragraph from a special page on It’s Almost Naptime tabbed “What I Really Want You To Know” and titled God Thinks You Rock The Casbah.    I want you to click on the link and read the whole article.   Especially if you’re looking at the whole Christ-following deal as someone looking inside the window of a house from the outside on a cold day.

It’s gonna bump her stats today, and she’ll definitely beat me again today in the readership race, but at least the guilt about beating The Persecution Blog will be her problem.

December 9, 2008

Kids Know All The Computer Shortcuts

Filed under: Christianity, parenting — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:39 pm

Randy Bohlender tries to keep up with just watching his eleven-year old do an assignment on computer.   Here’s the entire post; link here if you prefer or to click on “home” and read more of Randy, who describes himself as an “intercessory missionary” working with the International House of Prayer.

I was helping Grayson (11) with some schoolwork the other day. He was writing a report of some sort. OK, I wasn’t helping as much as I was standing guard so he wouldn’t get distracted by his brothers, his sisters, the neighbor’s dog, the legos on the floor, the refrigerator, a house plant, or oxygen. He was at that point in his schoolwork where oxygen itself is quite the distraction.

As I watched him, all hunched over my Mac Book, I noticed a few things. First, he seems to type instinctively. I took a typing class in high school and can type pretty well, but at 11 years old, he’s probably typing at 80% of the speed I do, and using all ten fingers to do so.

Another thing that caught my eye was how many keyboard shortcuts he uses. My hand drops back to the track pad a lot. I’m not sure he used it at all. Without looking at the keyboard, he flitted between programs and open windows as if he could see each of them laying open in his head. I’m forever wondering how many blasted windows I have open and where the one is that I’m looking for.

dsc06930The piece de resistance for me was when he realized he needed to insert a verse from scripture into his project. I reached for his Bible there on the counter. Grayson, however, showing some mad Option-Apple Key-CTRL backhand tab and return skills, he pulled up the verse online, copied it and pasted it into the document. Before I had the Book open, he was on to the next thing.

Some days, 41 is the new 30. Other times it’s the new 65.

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