Photo by Carey Nieuwhof

Most of us feel a push-pull tension at Christmas.  We realize our kids have a lot, but we don’t want them to miss out.  Many of us buy generously for them, even if it stretches us financially, because we want them to have every advantage.

But as we hinted in other posts this week, if we’re not careful, our kids can walk away from Christmas thinking they’re entitled to whatever we gave them, or even be disappointed if their gifts don’t measure up to expectations.

How do you manage this tension as a parent?

I’m sure you’ve got some great answers (please share), but here’s on thought that has helped me.  Getting the right perspective can be a game changer.

The perspective our kids see most of the time is what all the other kids got, what their cousins got and what their neighbours got.  If we’re being really honest as parents, we get tangled up in that game too.  And it can easy to see ourselves as struggling to keep up, not really that rich, just getting by…working hard to make it all balance just like everyone else.

Then every once in a while, you get a game-changing perspective.  I became aware of the Global Rich List site a few years ago, and it really impacted me – deeply.  If you click through, you can see how rich you are compared to everyone else on planet earth.  Go ahead.  Try it.

I was shocked to learn that I’m rich.  Very rich.  Loaded actually.

And  my guess is, so are you.

Compared to what everyone else on the planet lives on, we’re downright wealthy.

While we don’t share detailed financial data with our kids, I do take time as a dad to let them know how fortunate we are globally.  I let them know that almost everyone on the planet lives on less than we do.  And we make giving to the Kingdom of God and to people less fortunate a regular part of our financial priorities.

How do you communicate this?  You could talk with your teens who understand percentages and abstract thinking.  You might pull out ten of your pre-schoolers favourite dolls or actions figures and explain that if one doll represents our family, we have more than all the other doll’s friends.  And then show them what you’re giving to our doing about it to help make a difference.  You can take older kids on a mission trip.  You can even take younger kids to a place to serve the vulnerable in your community.  You could adopt a family at Christmas.  There are many ways to help kids see how rich many of us are relatively speaking.

That kind of awareness will teach generosity.  It will help develop compassion.  It might help generate gratitude.  And it might help lower expectations…all of which help us get perspective on what otherwise can so easily get out of control.

What have you done or said that’s made a difference?