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Mommy and the Joyful Three

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Erin James is the author of a mom blog on whattoexpect.com. She is a mother of three whose passion is helping other moms and dads with positive parenting.

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Going on a Family Fast of Material Things


Recently, I saw a card in my email that stated, “Only in America do you have a day where you are thankful for what you have, only to trample people for what you don’t have the very next day.” While I found this humorous, I also found it sad because it has a lot of truth behind it.

My children are spoiled. I shamefully admit it. And even though they have well beyond what they need, they do not have nearly as much as a lot of the children around them.

My kids do not know poverty. They have food and clothes, toys and a home; yet, they often complain about what they do not have. In past weeks, my blog has talked about teaching children gratitude, but it was after reading that email card that I realized that the gratitude I wish my kids to have needs to start with me.

I admit I have a shopping problem and I do complain about not having the new car I want. If I don’t have matching accessories with my outfit, I get a little annoyed. And OK, I like to have matching shoes to every dress I own. I guess I just never noticed how much I want and how much I complain about not having enough in front of my children.

How can I expect them to be gracious and thankful when I constantly want more stuff? I honestly didn’t notice how bad I was about this. I thought I was perfectly justified in buying and wanting more and more possessions.

To combat that ‘gimme-gimme’ attitude, I have decided that my whole family is going on a ‘material fast’ until Christmas. Instead of buying new shoes that won’t fit in my closet, I will put save the money or buy shoes for someone in need.

My kids are going to be joining in on this fast. This will not only teach them to appreciate the things they do have, but also on Christmas Day when they open their presents, they will be more grateful. If they want a toy, they can choose one for a local charity. I also will encourage them to collect the things they do not use and donate them to struggling families.

I do not think we realize how much we buy. Think about how many small items can end up in your shopping cart, while in the check out line my children will throw last minute things in the cart and they get lost that very day.

We take for granted how much we not only have here in America. Sadly, we aren’t close to the depth of gratitude we should have just for clean water and good food to eat.

During this material fast, I am encouraging my children to write down three things a day for which they are grateful. We’ll put them in a stocking and hang it up by our Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, we will read them before we open our gifts.

God blesses us in so many ways and I never want my children, or myself, to lose sight of that.

I made a sign to hang near our stocking with 1 Thessalonians 5:18 written on it.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

My children, husband and I will keep this verse close to our hearts and in our minds this holiday season.

How do you encourage your kids to count their blessings?

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:00 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Going on a Family Fast of Material Things

You know it means so much when your grown up kids call you and tell you some of their fondest memories when they were little. To my surprise my oldest daughter's fondest memory was when for about 2 years we didn't have a car and I took them everywhere in the radio flyer wagon. We even walked 5 miles to church each Sunday as I pulled my two oldest kids in that large radio flyer wagon. My oldest daughter said she loved it when I took her in the wagon to the Methodist thrift store about 2 blocks from our house and how fun it was to get a 50 cent toy she said it seemed like a wonderland to her. I didn't have a washer or dryer and used to stomp the clothes in the tub and hand ring them out and hang them on the line so that I could be a stay at home mom. The most important thing though to them was that I was a stay at home mom and even though my husband only made minimum wage, we pinched pennies and made it on that by the grace of God. ANY family can make it on one income like we did!
Left by Joy on Nov 27, 2012 11:03 PM