Parents will do just about anything to make Christmas memorable for the kids.
Some parents search relentlessly for the gift that the kids will remember forever.
Others try to get the spiritual meaning of Christmas across to their kids…which can be difficult when the kids are hopped up on candy canes and the ecstasy of unbridled consumerism.
And some parents try to use Christmas to blackmail their children into good behavior. Some parents trot out the old myth that Santa can always see you. Others employ modern inventions like the “elf on the shelf,” who is basically Santa’s spy, a ruse crafted for savvy post-911, Patriot Act children.
If you want my advice on how your kids can have the most meaningful, memorable Christmas ever, it doesn’t take any extra trips to the mall or stories about Santa and elves.
Just tell your kids you don’t love them…
Still with me? No? Let me clarify.
When a kid was born a century ago, childhood was way different than today. Kids found themselves trying to catch up with a family on the move. It was a lot like trying to jump onto a moving train. Kids were expected to pull their weight, keep up, or get dysentery and stop burdening the family with their presence. Most babies were born, washed off, nursed, and then given a shovel and sent to the coal mines. Childhood can’t last forever, right?
How things have changed. Today, a baby is born and the world of Mom and Dad stops. Their world shrinks to the size of a nursery. Kids grow up at the center of their own little universe with Mom and Dad orbiting around them, and kids know it. Kids know that they are the most important thing in Mom and Dad’s lives, and it’s reinforced every time Mom and Dad give up date night to shuffle them to another pointless, forgettable activity. People think good parenting is putting your kids first, which is why so many people get divorced after the kids move out.
You Are Not the Favorite
And that’s why so many kids act like they deserve to be worshipped. Because at home, they are worshipped. Mom and Dad lay down everything in sacrifice on the altar of childhood. If you tell your kid that you love them more than anything else, then you are worshipping them.
I will tell you one memory that is seared into my mind forever. My family was on our way home from church. And my parents told my brother and I all the time how much they loved us and were proud of us. And I don’t know how the subject came up, but my mother ended up telling us that she did not love us most in the whole wide world. My brother and I took second place to Jesus.
I sat in rather stunned silence. It felt as if my mom was telling me she didn’t love us. She wasn’t, of course. She only told us she didn’t love us as much as I thought she did. I stopped being the center of the universe. There was nothing I could do to regain it.
Why Being An Only Child was Great
I got to be an only child for just two years. To the best of my recollection, it was awesome. Things were never quite the same when my brother came along. Suddenly, I had to share the center of the universe with another, lesser being.
Kids don’t like sharing the center of the universe with siblings. Siblings represent competition for the love and affection of parents. We reveled when our siblings feel from grace, while we temporarily believed we were the “favorite.”
Parents tell their kids all the time that none of them are the “favorites,” but kids still try to be the “secret favorite.” Well if you want your kids to have a memorable Christmas, (and end the “favorite” debate), do this. Get up on Christmas. Open gifts. Then while you’re sitting the glow of the most special day of the year, tell your kids once again that you love them equally, that none of them are your favorites…because the child represented on Christmas is your favorite. Tell them there is nothing they can do to make you love them more than Jesus.
If you really want to make it memorable, tell your kids that, yes, if God told you to sacrifice them like He did with Abraham, you’d do it. That’ll make the memory last.
But it’s not enough to tell kids that they are second place to Jesus. You have to make them believe it. Stop idolizing your kids. Actually put them in second place. It’ll be the best gift you give them.
Did your parents ever tell you that you weren’t the favorite? Have you told your kids? How did they react?
This post is sponsored by Ministry Matters.