“…for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Teaching children to share is one of the big challenges of parenting. Sharing does not come naturally to the old sin nature. We shouldn’t be dismayed, disappointed, or angry when we hear the words, “No, mine,” coming from the mouths of our little ones. Our children are just proving that they inherited their parents’ sinful natures!
Children need to be gently instructed and trained. They are born self-centered; they learn to be others-centered. God has given us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the job of teaching our children to be selfless instead of selfish, and the everyday tussles that arise between children are God-ordained teaching opportunities, not annoyances and interruptions, as we are often tempted to think.
It takes an investment of time, thought, and energy to teach a child to willingly share with a cheerful heart. Most of all, it takes a real, live, loving example in front of them. Are we willing to share with our children? Do we cheerfully give of ourselves, or do our hearts say, “Mine!” when our little ones want or need our time and attention? Do we communicate a begrudging, selfish attitude when we have to stop again to teach our children to not have begrudging, selfish attitudes?
In the midst of all the other demands on one’s time and energy, it’s tempting, when children start to argue over an object, to just do whatever it takes to restore peace and get back to what we were doing. We may:
- Try to distract them with another object.
- Become annoyed and simply take away the object of dispute.
- Threaten or bribe, manipulating one child into surrendering the object to the other.
- Produce a duplicate object in order to satisfy both children.
- Make a hasty judgment in favor of one child without taking time to understand all the circumstances.
- Give in to the loudest or most aggressive child.
These actions don’t address the actual problem. Instead of seeking the easiest road to peace, we should take hold of the opportunities to teach our children. This means stopping what we are doing and taking the time to instruct and discipline them. These are opportunities to point our children to God and His Word, and occasions for laying down our lives for the sake of our children.
In the next few Tuesday posts, we will explore different elements of teaching our children to share!