Not My Role

After spending weeks trying to come up with just the right gift for your children, I thought it might be a good time to revisit your role as a parent.


Just before the end of the year, the Love and Logic Facebook page posted the following quote that seems to say it all: My role is about leading, teaching and loving my kids. My role is not about providing them unlimited goods, services and entertainment.


It seems that during the last part of each year, our kids get into the posture of looking for us or Santa Claus to provide their hearts desire. Every commercial seems to pander to their imagination about the latest or greatest toy or game. Star Wars is always happy to provide a year-end boost to sales. The whole world seems to get into a craze to get new things and shift our focus to me, me, me.


Good Love and Logic parents can push back against this selfish focus by providing opportunities to give to others and serve those whose tree might have fewer things under it. Participating in toy drives can even include giving away some of the stuff in the closet that hasn’t been played with since last summer. Gently used items can light up another child’s eyes. It’s not too late to go ahead and clean out the closet now even though Christmas is behind us.


Before we can push back against the world’s greedy side, it might be nice to do a little reflecting about our role and work to change our own mindset. Giving is fun. Being the hero on Christmas morning for providing the best Christmas ever—again—even if Santa gets the credit—is awesome. Now it’s time to dial back the providing mode in favor of the leading, teaching and loving modes of parenting.


Leading involves example first and teaching afterwards. It is hard to lead our child away from a selfish spirit when we are looking at ads and commercials with gaga eyes. Spending countless hours at after Christmas sales probably didn’t do much to help our children leave their focus on me, me, me. Again, it’s time to dial back the getting and receiving a few notches.


Teaching is different for Love and Logic parents. Because we use fewer words, we must choose them much more carefully. My favorite Love and Logic teaching mode is letting your child overhear your values. Just think out loud and talk to yourself about what you are doing. Pick up the Sunday ads and say softly to yourself, “I really don’t need any of this stuff; we are really blessed.” Talk back to the commercials and express your contentment with what you already possess. Help your children see that life isn’t about getting more and more goods and services. Overhearing parents is great fun for children.


Speaking of services, it’s okay to say no to constant requests by your child to be shuttled everywhere. “Can we go to ___” can become as unlikely as the “Are we there yet?” questions they asked all the way to Grandmas last month. Your role as parent may begin to feel like a taxi driver but pushing back against excessive requests for taxi service is just as important as refusing to buy absolutely everything their heart desires.


Enjoy the new things. Take advantage of the sales. Just remember your role as parent is not providing unlimited goods, services and entertainment.
Dr. Matt Crain writes weekly for the Sunday newspaper from his Connecting Fathers and Families ministry.