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Monday, June 11, 2012

Our Actions Count… Part 1


~Helping kids to delay gratification~

It’s easy to see how instant gratification has become the norm isn’t it?  We live in a world where we want everything and we want it straight away

I know I’m guilty of this.

Dave still teases me about how when we were newly weds and we’d be looking for furniture or something. 
After ordering the piece we wanted we’d be told we’d have to wait a month or so until the order was ready, and all the while, he just knew I’d be wondering,
“How much is it for the one on display?  The one that’s different… in the wrong colour…and not quite the right size? ... Could we take it today... now ?”

I’ve been mulling over a few things lately.  
Reading and stewing and trying to make sense of a lot of things.  When I started to try to put it all in to words, I realized it was a LOT! 

So I have divided up my thoughts in to a four part series entitled ‘Our Actions Count’.  It’s for parents, teachers, care-givers, grandparents and anyone really with them aim of thrashing out some ideas that will:

     1.   Help kids learn to delay gratification.
     2.   Steer boys to manhood.
     3.   Show how pornography and sex trafficking are linked.
     4.   Help stop human trafficking at the source.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

We get used to living in an “instant” world: instant messaging, texts, emails, fax, Internet, food, banking, information, wealth… the list goes on. 

We want it all NOW!

I’m know when we got married, we had way more than what our parents started out with as newly weds.  Now a days it’s very common to see couples beginning married life with brand-new everything.  They instantly have all the things that their parents and grandparents worked a lifetime to acquire. 
As parents, we must ask ourselves, are we guilty of relentless giving to our children who feel entitled to have it all now and yet never really seem grateful for what they do have?


Every day, little children are bombarded with media messages, cleverly created advertisements to cause them to hunger after all the latest games, toys, technology and fashion.  
As they get older, they become drenched with messages telling them how to be cool and what to do to be acceptable and “normal”.

Susan Linn, an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says, "Parents and children are living in a commercially driven culture that glorifies conspicuous consumption, and that's harmful".

“Those messages persuade parents and kids they can't be happy without certain brands or products”, she said.

"People are buying into that belief that what makes a child happy is buying them things," Linn said. "But the research tells us that things don't make us happy."

And so I’m left wondering…what are we teaching our children?  What messages are we subtly sending if our phone beeps during dinner-time and we race to see who sent us a message, if we insist on same day delivery, if we give our kids everything they want straight away.

Having it all now cannot possible teach a child delayed gratification, can it?
A precious friend sent our children a generous amount of money last year.  Well, Dave and I knew that our eldest son had outgrown his bicycle.  His friends knew it too and had occasionally teased him about how small his old bike was compared to their newer and bigger ones.  So when this money came through, with the specific instruction to buy something for each of the children, we instantly wanted to go out and buy our son that new bike he needed and put his suffering to an end.
After some discussion though we reconsidered, deciding to postpone the purchase of the bike until Christmas time (a few months later) to help our son learn about this very issue of delayed gratification.  
Those few months of ‘enduring’ what he’d outgrown definitely made him all the more thankful when the time finally came to own a bigger bike. 
So what else can we do to help our children in this area?
Here’s just a few ideas:

-Create opportunities that will allow your child to interact with other children less fortunate than themselves.  This will help to keep their needs and desires in perspective.  Villages, slums, poor communities, foster care, orphanages, camps for disadvantaged kids… there’s opportunity all around.

- Spend time playing games, cards, going on dates or just hanging out and talking with your child.  This way they will learn that “getting things” isn't the only way to feel loved and special.

-Recycle or fix toys and clothing that break, wear out or become outdated.   Model this by doing the same with your belongings.  You don’t have to update your phone every 6 months for a better one.

- Limit consumption and help your child set goals and save up their money for earning desired things.

- Examine your own buying habits and values, because your children can't help but inherit them.

- Steer away from always buying store-bought toys that do everything. Challenge your kids to create a game from two pencils, marbles, a ruler or scraps of paper.

I’m sure there’s more… What others ideas have you got?  Please leave us a comment.

And stay tuned for Part 2 of Our Actions Count. 
It will be all about ‘Steering boys to manhood’.  

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