As soon as I peeked at the first Let Them title, I knew my stance wouldn't have changed one iota. Kids with much should be encouraged to practice generosity. Liberally. But here's what has changed for our home: Things are more complicated now. Kids ranging from toddler to tween means interests are more diverse. Toys are more distinctly owned by individuals. Group consensus to toss something is not met so easily. Olders are more attached to The Things From Their Childhood (things they rarely actually play with, because they are babyish). More trinkets get tossed in the trash, because they don't survive to meet the inside of the giveaway bag.
The living situation is more complicated too. We're practicing commune living, so there's seven people living in a manufactured home. Because we're kooky like that. Four kids in one room means somethin' has to go, precious snowflakes. As this is a temporary arrangement, some special treasures have stayed boxed up. The life-as-I-know-it-will-cease-without-this-toy items have been relegated to small bins on the bed or under it.
In short, our children have learned to do without. And embrace it. They've played card games, and worked many a puzzle. They've learned new skills in the kitchen, pursued classic literature (because books are one area I basically refuse to limit, and is evidenced by the mountains of reading material surrounding us), and climbed our trees for hours. Perhaps we've all learned to be content with less. Don't get me wrong, we all have displayed selfishness over keeping something, but what I've learned since February 23rd, 2013 is that less truly, really, honestly is more.
I think most parents want their children to become giving, thoughtful, gracious people. I think most of us falter in our steps as we strive to raise grateful kids. It feels uncomfortably against the flow to teach kids gratitude, and sometimes it's easier to float with the current down You Deserve It River. Sometimes we need a solid kick in the pants before we're willing to adjust our thinking. Before I'm willing to say, “OK, God, what I'm doing is a total crapshoot.”
(Here comes my amazingly smooth and undetectable segue.)
Hey! Remember that one time I applied to be part of a launch team for Kristen Welch's new book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, and didn't know I'd been accepted because my e-mail is rising up in mutiny and eating important e-mails? I've basically been playing catch-up with the rest of the team, which means they've been babysitting me and holding my hand, bless it.
We need a kick in the pants, and Kristen delivers a swift, but gracious boot to get us moving. We're not all precious, gentle families who practice All The Special Things with our families. Kristen knows that. Kristen is our people. She's transparent. Reading her book is just like sitting across from her on a squishy couch, yukking it up. I know this because we have the same verse inked on us and I sent her an e-mail years ago to tell her...so we're basically BFF's and I'm not a weirdo stalker. Not once do you catch of a whiff of condescension. Grace, firm suggestions, a call-to-action.
“When entitlement's poison begins to infect our hearts, gratitude is the antidote.”
“Kids will be kids and if we give them too much, too soon, they will likely take it.”
“We give our kids more because we think it will make us all feel better, but it actually places a higher value on things than on relationships. And often our kids don't need more stuff or more freedom; they just need more of us.”
Good words, Kristen. Go read more of her good words (and possibly win something...Oops! I've said too much.).
So here's the deal: Today is the release date! Go get thee thine own copy and one to giveth away. This isn't so much a parenting book as it is a manual for not raising, nor being yourself a self-absorbed lazy butt. You won't regret it.
*Cover courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers