Life is busy. It can be exhausting and overwhelming trying to keep up with the next big thing. As moms, our calendars fill up before we can blink, and that usually means our kids’ do too. It can be tough to see past ourselves and the next appointment on the calendar. It can be tough to think about the needs of anyone but ourselves. And if we don’t intentionally try to see the needs of others, our kids probably won’t either.
When the world is telling them that they deserve this and are owed that, it continues to breed a culture of entitlement. As their moms, we have a front row seat and a backstage pass to influence their hearts and minds to love others, before themselves. The battle is real and can be fierce, but one of my greatest joys is seeing children show the love of Jesus to others. And so, we press on.
How to Win Against the Culture of Entitlement
Here are four practical ways to help our kids be more aware of the needs of others in their everyday lives:
1. Teach them to listen to those around them.
Proverbs 20:12 says, “”Ears to hear and eyes to see-both are gifts from the Lord.” I know there are times I hear people, but it goes in one ear and out the other because I didn’t really listen. Listening is an art because it requires you to be still and quiet while putting others before yourself. This makes it extremely challenging in this world of constant noise. Life is full of distractions, especially for our kiddos with super short attention spans.
Try these to help them intentionally listen to others:
- Play “Telephone” where you sit in a big circle and whisper a message in the next person’s ear. Once the message has gone around the circle, the last person shares it to see if it ended the same as it started. It’s a powerful lesson in the art of listening closely.
- Have them interview a friend or family member to learn more about them. Make sure the questions are open-ended and can’t be answered with just “yes” or “no”. Then have them share what they learned.
2. Teach them to see those around them.
We want our kids to reach out to that classmate with different clothes, hair, skin color, accent, or religion. We want them to shine a light to the one who might be making bad grades, have a disability, or might be the bully in class. But we have to model it first. We must share how they can look past a rough exterior and see their hearts (1 Sam.16:7).
Encourage your kids to not only look at others…but to see them with these tips:
- Sit in a park or playground and have your child observe the kids around you. Make a list of conclusions you make together about them. Then let them go play. After they play together, come back and see if they have the same conclusions.
- Play HeadBanz. One person gives clues about an object, etc. and you have to guess what they are describing. You will be surprised at how people see and describe things differently.
3. Teach them to be thankful and content.
Paul told us that he learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Phil.4:11). It isn’t something that comes naturally. But when we feel satisfied with the “cup” the Lord has assigned us (Ps.16:5), we are free to listen and see and help others. And it starts with us ladies. Instead of whining and complaining about your outdated countertop and wishing you had granite (I wouldn’t know anything about that :), choose to be content that you have a solid surface to prepare meals for your family. Instead of looking longingly at the skinny waist and perfect teeth on that model in the magazine, tell your kids how great that special dress makes you feel when you wear it! And rock it!
Try this for practice:
- Sit with your kids and make a “Thankful Journal.” At the end of each day write down 3 things they are thankful for. It might not be all “good” things. It might be a hard situation that taught them something. It might be a sick friend who is shining a light for others to see. Let them lead.
- Sit at the computer together and Google South Sudan or another place that is outside of their realm of knowledge. Or keep it close to home. Introduce them to a friend who has less material things, but is overflowing with the love of Jesus.
4. And finally, don’t let them forget what the Lord has done for them (Deut.6:12).
We have a hard situation. We pray. The Lord answers our plea. We thank Him and praise Him. Life gets back to normal. And then we forget. We forget Him and His mercy, grace, and faithfulness. Our pride steps in and we think we are handling things just fine. And we are less likely to see the needs of others.
When our kids realize their need for Jesus and humble themselves, they will be more likely to be aware of others’ needs. When they are on their knees, they will be more likely to look up at those around them. And so, will we.
Give this a try:
- Keep a prayer board. On one side put “Current Prayers”. When the prayer is answered move it over to the “Answered Prayers” side. Keep them posted as a reminder of what the Lord has done.
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Our kids are watching us. All the time. There’s no better way to teach your kids to see the needs of others, than by modeling the love of Jesus yourself (Deut.6:4-9). Get out there and be a light, ladies…and your kids will follow.
Which practice are you most excited about implementing? What ways have you found helpful for in turning your child’s heart toward the needs of those around them?
Maggie Meadows Cooper
Maggie Meadows Cooper is a wife, mother, educator, and blogger with a longing for women to grow a heart for Jesus and others. She is the author of the children’s book Bumper, helping others to see that the heart is what counts most. She blogs at The Little Moments and contributes to IBelieve Truth: A Devotional for Women, Devotional Diva, and the Connecting Ministries Blog. ! She lives with her husband, three children, and two rambunctious dogs in Opelika, Alabama.
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