With Christmas a distant memory that occurred two months ago, maybe now it’s “safe” to critique the typical philosophy of most American parents (even Christians): “Give your children EVERYTHING they want, materially speaking, and especially at Christmas.”

The traditional American style of parenting is to give your children EVERYTHING they want for Christmas. “We can’t let our children be disappointed, especially at Christmas time, since it’s the celebration of the birth of our Savior,” is what many parents say. But is this type of thinking the way God teaches us to parent our children?

Of course parents want their children to celebrate the birth of Christ and to have positive experiences in this life, but the Bible teaches believers in Christ to be primarily givers rather than simply receivers. Acts 20:35 (ESV)states: “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Giving captures the very heart of God Who gave His only begotten Son for our salvation!

As a parent, you must begin instilling the value of giving to God by giving to others at a very early age. Don’t expect your children to automatically think like a Christian especially when American society (the world) promotes consumerism and pleasure at all costs. Parents must model giving to their children and invest time in cultivating the attitude of giving in their child’s minds.

On page 116 of the book Addiction-Proof Parenting: Biblical Prevention Strategies, one of the “practical to do’s” challenges parents and children to make an effort to not use the words “my, mine, or I” for one week in order to foster an attitude that everything belongs to the Lord and we are merely stewards. Rather than saying, “That’s my toy,” challenge your child to say, “That’s God’s toy He has given me to play with.” This new attitude encourages your child to be a good steward by taking care of what he/she has been given rather than to be a consumer, using up the toy until it is gone.

Be intentional and help your child to embrace the grace of God given freely to all of His children. Encourage your child to share the message of eternal life with others through random acts of kindness in the love of Christ this holiday season!

True joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) given to us by God when we live by His Spirit and give to others. Give your child the eternal value of cheerful giving since “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7 – ESV).

-Mark (Be a Christian parent not a typical American parent by being a giver not a consumer!)