Yesterday on my Facebook page, I tried to solicit your thoughts about the parents in Utah, who canceled Christmas for their three kids. I was hoping to get some outside ideas and opinions before weighing in with mine. To those of you who commented, thanks, I appreciate it.
The story ran on the Today Show, and was later forwarded by our local NBC affiliate here in Pittsburgh, NBC 11 WPXI. The headline reads, Utah mom cancels Christmas for 'ungratefulI' kids. Lisa Henderson, who is the co-founder of OverTheBigMoon.com (on which her post appeared) states that she's calling off Christmas. Take a minute to watch the response from the Today Show.
Okay, so first off, I love how the point of the original article is quickly blurred over by comments that the mother posted a photo of her kids on the article. Each of the Today Show personalities comment more about the photo then the reason for the cancelation. I wonder if this was just a way to avoid the discussion of the article altogether. Instead they go beyond the parents intend to bring a behavior modication and awareness to their three children, and views her decision to show their faces as a horrible betrayal of some kind.
With that said, lets move to the bigger issue.
Are kids growing up with a sense of entitlement? And is Christmas at fault?
Let's look at the original blog posted by Lisa Henderson, on November 24th, 2014. You can read her blog post by clicking here: Why My Husband and I Cancelled Christmas.
After the head turning announcement that she and her husband were cancelling Christmas, she makes this statement.
"John and I feel like we are fighting a very hard uphill battle with our kids when it comes to entitlement. Our kids have been acting so ungrateful lately. They expect so much even when their behavior is extremely disrespectful. We gave them good warning, either it was time for their behavior to change or there would be consequences. We patiently worked with them for several months and guess what, very little changed."
As a parent, a youth pastor, and a pastor, I would challenge us to think about our own kids and ask, Are my kids showing a similar lack of respect while living with an equally similar expectation to be giving stuff? Now careful how you might answer. We might first take the defensive and say, not my kids! But stop and think. What are your kids asking for on their Christmas list? Don't be shocked if they are.
As I observe, both my kids, and the kids from my ministry and in the community, there is a growing concern that we are raising a generation that will always be looking for the next best thing and what someone else can give them. More and more, the pressure is on parents to make sure their kids measure up with the rest of the kids at school or in the community. Whether it's the latest version of the iPhone, the super cool, super expensive wireless headphones, the latest fashion craze, or playing for the best sports team in your area, the push to always be on top, or at least towards the top, is real and growing. And that pressure falls on us, the parents.
Add to the pressures of getting stuff the issue of disrespect. I see it far to frequently. From how a child responds to their parent to the words and attitude they use is appalling. We deal with it in our own home. But the problem goes far beyond our homes and communities. Our kids have been influenced with a number of negative sources for years. Media has restructured the family unit where it's no longer, Father know best! Instead it, Kid's Rule and Parents Drool. We have had to banned certain, "made for kids" TV shows, because we didn't like the way the writers portrayed the relationship between the parents and the kids. In most shows, the parents were ditzy, weak, and there only for comedic purposes. While the kids on the other hand, ruled the roost. Come now to real life, and I see the same thing happening in our families.
Marry the two together and what you have are entitled, disrespectful, brats. Yeah, I said it. Brats.
Now, back to the blog. Lisa shares with her readers the Christmas alternative that she and her husband have come up with. She writes...
"Instead we will be taking the money we would have spent on presents and put it towards service projects and giving gifts to others this season. We are trying to teach them the pleasure of giving rather than continuing to feed their childhood desire for more."
What an incredible idea? Hey, let's take Christmas, a time for GIVING, and LET'S GIVE!!!
Lisa goes on to share a few ways they will complish this; service projects, giving to others, holding a clothing drive, and a few other ideas. Infact, it sounds like they have already completed a number of projects, including sending clothes to a village in Northern Cebu of the Philippines. She then writes, "Instead of being sad over giving up their Halloween candy they were excited and kept wanting to give more and more. After we had the boxes all packaged up we mailed them. The kids loved it! It was a lot of money to ship and they understand that they gave up having something, so they could give these clothes to others." [Emphasis mine.]
Now, Lisa and her family have taken a lot of heat for this decision to skip Christmas. From the Today Show making an issue out of her kids faces being shown (which by the way look more to me like these are pictures of pride following the completion of a giving project and not to humilate or embarrass her children) to some pretty harsh comments. But Lisa, I applaud you and your husband. Together you have taken a stand to reintroduce Christmas to your kids and impress upon them the joy of serving others! I applaud you even more for having the guts to share your story with the world!
I wonder, how would our world be changed if parents stopped giving into the 'Christmas-give me's' and started teaching their kids the simple rules of, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And love others as you love yourself." (Matthew 22:37 & 39 paraphrased)
Today's generation of kids is entitled and disrepectful. Just sit down and watch them. Listen to them. It won't talk you long to see the evidence for yourself.
But is Christmas at fault?
I love what Lisa says at the very end of her post. In a section that was added post publication she writes...
"The reason I wrote this post is I want to empower parents to feel like it’s okay to take a stand. I think half of the reason we as parents are afraid to take a stand, is because we don’t want our kids to feel like they have the mean parents. I wanted to share what we are doing, so any parents that feel they are struggling with the same issues in their home can see what others are doing and get ideas for their family. My intention is to help support other parents and to raise amazing kids."
You see, it's not Christmas. It's not even the media. It's the fault of the parents! We are the ones who have stepped away from the role entrusted to us.
Parents, take the stand! Be a parent! Learn to say, No! Establish boundaries and stick to them! And stop trying to live like everyone else! God has given YOU the task and responsibility to raise YOUR children, and to TRUST in HIS guidance. Instead of going to Oprah or a mommy blog, go to the FATHER and seek HIS face.
Oh, one more thing. DAD's man up and stop being a pansy!! Be a dad. Be their DAD! They need you. And your wife needs you. Stop trying to be the cool, accepting, hip dad, and start being the wise, strong, and godly dad you need to be.
As for cancelling Christmas? Lisa and her husband aren't. They are simply redefining it. And I think we can all do with a little redefining!
Merry Christmas! And good luck parents!
Do you agree or disagree? Have comment? Maybe a different approach to the subject? Take a few minutes and share below! I'd love to hear what you think.
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.