PLANT THE SEEDS: TEACH
Agree on the values you wish to teach
your children and encourage them in
everyday living—in work and play and
how you spend your time. Those lessons
begin in the nursery and continue to adulthood. In the
book Just Moms, Conveying Justice in an Unjust World,
Marta Oti Sears writes about a project her seven-year-
old daughter took on one Christmas. The year before,
she’d participated in a project to give a farm animal
to a needy community overseas, but this year, said her
daughter, “I want to give the whole farm!” The whole
farm was a group of animals costing in excess of $2000.
Marta outlines her family’s journey through, “Can we
really do it?” to “Yes, we did it with the help of friends
and family.” You can bet the family had planted those
seeds in their daughter’s heart at an early age and, as a
result, they’ll all treasure the memory forever.
WATER: TELL YOUR STORIES
Most of us have stories from our family’s
history documenting a much simpler
lifestyle. My father received only one gift
his entire childhood. It was a sled made
by his father. His was a North Dakota farm
family working hard to make a simple living, and gifts
were not expected. Knowing his father took the time to
make the sled for him made it more than special.
When my own children had questions about the
concepts of rich and poor, we came up with a saying
that covered our philosophy of family life. It was, “We’re
rich in love.” The children knew we gave gifts to those
less fortunate. They knew we had enough to share with
others in times of need. The message they received was
the truth––we had all we needed and enough left over
to be generous. We were content. What true stories of
simpler times do you have to share with your kids?
FEED AND PRUNE: MODEL A
Children may learn by hearing stories,
but they’ll take to heart the things they
see with their own eyes and actually
experience. Have a family meeting and talk
about the choices you make. Explain why you make
certain purchases, what you give to others and why you
shop for bargains. Why do you choose certain family
activities and not others? When do you refrain from
spending? Does fun always require spending a lot of
money? Are there opportunities for your family to give
time or money to help others? Model the decision-
making process and include the children.
and needs. A thankful heart doesn’t just happen, it’s
taught over time. Living out the values of a thankful
heart in day-to-day family life isn’t easy in our consumer-
driven world. We have to say no to the want-more,
have-more cycles so many families embrace. But we can
do it, because it’s the right thing to do. So go ahead
and plant, water, feed and prune. Your family will thrive
when you teach them to have thankful hearts.
PROJECTS FOR YOUR
Allow children to do chores to earn
money for the purpose of giving to a
Adopt a needy family through a local
agency and meet their holiday needs.
Work as a family to earn money to
donate to a specific family-selected
Make the decision to sort through old
clothing, toys and other possessions to
“pare down” possessions and live with
Take the entire family to a shelter or
group home and help serve a meal.
Choose to provide a snack or meal to
a homeless person you pass on the
roadways each day.
Decide how to spend vacation time
with an emphasis on enjoying one
another without excess financial drain.
Regularly plan family fun times
including games, music, food, work
projects and other inter-generational
or extended family activities.
At meal times make it a point to
discuss the “fine art of having
enough.” What does it look like in
real life? What are the distinctions
between wants and needs?
REAP THE REWARD: A THANKFUL
FAMILY IN ACTION
The benefit of careful planting, watering
and pruning is a healthy family with
thankful children. You’ll have kids who
understand life beyond their own wants
Source: You can contact Marta Oti Sears at www.martaotisears.com.
Her blog is Beauty and Meaning in the Ordinary. Just Moms:
Conveying Justice in an Unjust World is published by Barclay Press.
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