The pendulum continues to swing. As prior generations created latchkey children who played outside until the street lights came on, today’s young mothers are told, “you ONLY get 18 summers with your children!” implying that we must make these the best summers of our children’s lives.
I feel that in my bones. It is only a matter of time before my son’s eyes are drawn outside of our small life. No one needs to remind me that my husband and I in our home won’t be the center of his world one day. I won’t always be there to dress him, feed him, and help him when he gets hurt.
I want to give my son everything he wants, within reason. But as we have done that more than I’d like to admit, I’ve seen him become increasingly ambivalent towards his possessions, rather than cherishing them the way I do mine as an adult. This baffles me. My son is a sweet, caring individual who reads the room with accuracy when he chooses to. But he is struggling to enjoy all we have given him, because it is too much. He cannot find value in each item when everything his four-year-old mind can think of is available to him.
Don’t we adults act the same way toward our own possessions, lifestyles, or needs? When we have plenty, it is easy to ignore the value of a sturdy roof over our heads, a bed to sleep in each night, and food to fill our tummies.
Even worse than ignoring our provisions, we often ignore our Lord, the provider, when the going is good. We tend to “need” Him less. Or so we think. It is too easy to become ambivalent in our prayer life when we fill our time with the next “thing” we think we need.
I know each generation has done the best with what they know. My generation seems to have more opportunity to spoil our children, often out of an honest longing to give our children the best experiences possible.
However tempting it is to continually give to our children, this impulse is not biblical. As parents, we are not called to conjure endless fantastical activities, limitless toys, and constant warm-fuzzy memories for our children. And we are definitely not called to do everything for them.
We are called to steward our children for the Lord. We are called to love them and raise them to know the truth. We are called to show them how life will not always be easy. We must give them the tools to go through life with wisdom rather than foolishness. We are called to show them our beautiful Lord, and how He truly provides all we need.
Hebrews 13:5-6 says,
Paul’s exhortation is right. We must teach our future generations to be satisfied with what they have. How do we do that? We, ourselves, must first be satisfied when we serve our Lord. He will NEVER leave or abandon us, in times of both plenty and little.
A wise friend told me life is all about loss. The tighter you hold to things, the harder it is when God says it’s time to let go. Her daughter just graduated high school and is choosing to do things her own way. God has shown this friend, time and again, that our children are only ours for a short time. She is now navigating how to mother a young adult without hovering. She is constantly learning how to love her daughter from a distance.
I pray that I heed her advice, along with Paul’s. I pray that I relinquish my son to the Lord daily. Rather than frantically planning our summers to the nth degree or designing all the activities to enrich him at the expense of my sanity, I pray that I follow God’s lead for our lives. I pray we find ways to serve Him by loving others. I pray that others see Christ in our lives. I pray that my husband and I lead Owen, over and over again, to our Lord who will provide for him better than either of us ever could.
I guess we should start by parting with some of Owen’s (and my) excess stuff. Maybe we can share with others and learn the true joy of giving? Perhaps this will be a sweet new memory for years to come? Then again, maybe Owen will struggle with it. He is only four. But he is old enough to start learning how to love others well.
So friends, I’ll raise my Diet Coke and say, “Here’s to giving my son the tools to wisely acknowledge God’s provision in our lives.”
…I’ll let you know how it goes.
Written by Leah Honnen. Leah Honnen is a wife, momma, and infertility warrior living in Jacksonville, IL. She is a homemaker and volunteers at her church, but loves spending time fixing up her pre-1920s home with her husband, John. Leah writes on the lessons she continues to learn in daily life – through infertility, motherhood, music, friendships, and more on Instagram @leahhonnen.