Raising contented children when the world and media constantly barrage our kids with messages of want and greed while flashing images of the “perfect” body, the “ideal” family, and the “magical” vacation has made for a challenging environment to parent.
From an early age, our children are taught that to succeed one must possess ambition and drive. Motivational speakers who travel the school assembly circuit chide, “Never be satisfied. Reach higher. Strive for the top.”
But the problem is, “the top” is fictional. No one ever arrives. It’s the great lie of the Enemy to make us believe we are missing out on something (remember the Garden?).
It’s no wonder that a staggering 25% of children between the ages of 13-18 have been diagnosed with some type of anxiety disorder (source: National Institute of Mental Health) and the number continues to rise.
Raising contented children in today’s world requires parents to be intentional about teaching God’s word.
As parents, we can guide our children through the flak that surrounds them on an almost a daily basis. And the wisdom we can lean on comes from the book of Philippians.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, he speaks of joy and contentment while being bound in prison chains. It’s hard not to listen to Paul’s advice when he writes of peace, joy and contentment amidst what many of us would consider dire circumstances. What was Paul’s secret?
Here are 3 keys to raising contented children by following Paul’s example.
1. Accept All Things For Christ (Philippians 4:11)
We need to teach our children that we serve God, He doesn’t serve us. Even as adults, we get this wrong. Once we understand that our purpose is for His purpose, then we can find contentment knowing that we are in a particular circumstance because He desires it for His glory. For our children, this will often apply to situations such as not making the school play or the basketball team. Instead of allowing the hurt to grow into self-doubt, or even worse self-loathing, talk with them about how God directs our paths (Proverbs 3:6) and that although we may be disappointed, we can have peace knowing that God’s plan is at work in our lives.
2. Do All Things For Christ (Philippians 4:13)
We are sons and daughters of the King, and God will ask us to do difficult things because he wants us to recognize that it is His strength that is needed, not our own. When our children find themselves facing a difficult task whether it be confessing to a teacher that they cheated on a test or maybe telling a friend that their comments are hurtful, remind them that God will give us the strength we need to do what is right in His eyes.
3. Have All Things For Christ (Philippians 4:19)
All we say, do and have should be for His glory. Our possessions are not excluded. God will give us everything we need to accomplish His purpose for our lives. It’s so important that we teach kids to hold their possessions loosely. We should instill in our children the joy of generosity from an early age by allowing them to participate with us in our giving. For example, if we are giving to a missionary family or adopting a Compassion child, give them the opportunity to financially participate. Too often we teach generosity as stilted obedience instead of joyful freedom.
Raising contented children will take time and effort. However, following the road map Paul lays out in his letter to the Philippians can assist us all in finding our way.
Also, adding a family devotional to the mix can teach kids how God desires us to act in different situations. Undivided: Living FOR and not just WITH one another might be a resource to consider to jump start your family time with God.