When Finances Are Tight This Christmas And Your Kids Are Being Selfish

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35, NIV)

I often tell my kids that we don't do "fair" in our house. My boys know that when one brother goes to a birthday party and they are left behind, that it's an opportunity to be happy for them. And just because one brother got an ice cream cone while out on errands with dad, that doesn't mean that they will get one too. Honestly, if we did "fair" everyone would be doing a lot MORE chores and have a lot less "treats."

That said, training my boys to be content and to be joyful givers is an ongoing process and we have a long way to go. They still argue over who gets the best seat on the couch, which brother gets the last bag of chips, and whose turn it is to pick a show on TV to watch.

Selfishness never needs to be taught.

I can relate. My contentment levels are often in flux and it's one area I need to grow in spiritually. It's one of my biggest struggles. That means it can also become one of my biggest triggers toward anger--both witnessing my kids' lack of content and the stress from my own internal dialogue of selfish desires.

There may not be any week that is harder to face for someone who lacks contentment, than this one--the week of Christmas! For me, it's especially tricky because my birthday is the day after Christmas. If I'm focused on myself, there is a virtual minefield of opportunities for unmet expectations and disappointment. Especially because my dear husband isn't exactly a planner or thoughtful when it comes to gift giving. I have to be very careful to take my thoughts captive to Christ and focus on what really matters.

Moms, I want us all to shift our focus this week. Some of us have plenty of resources and finances are aplenty. That's an amazing blessing to be cherished! For others, we already feel sad that we can't get that special gift for our child or buy even something small for extended family or friends. When I personally think of all the things I wish I could do for others, and can't, my heart drops. I want to be generous!

So how can we be generous and receive the blessing of giving when our bank accounts are low and the gifts are few?

We can remember that giving goes far beyond the tangible and that truly, the greatest gift is the gift of a gentle and quiet spirit. It's the generous and humble response to a selfish child's tantrum. It's the empathetic listening ear to your Aunt's long description of her aching hip and the smile for your noisy kids when you are bone tired and would rather be alone.

Giving our families the gift of a mom who radiates with the love of Christ is no cliche. It's the difference between a truly joyful Christmas and one wrought with strife and anxiety. Let's release our regrets to the Lord and replace them with Truth and hope.

Every day this week, meditate on what you can GIVE to your kids and your family. Overlook offenses. Bless instead of curse. Replace angry reactions with gentle biblical responses.  Give your husband what he doesn't deserve. Be the light in your home and pray that the Lord will give you the gift of great humility. Beautiful moms, it's better to give than to receive but you won't be lacking anything if you put on an attitude of humility and grace.

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YOUR TURN: How are you feeling as Christmas approaches? What attitude of thought process is weighing on your mind today? What can you choose to remember instead so that you are a joyful mom instead of an angry or resentful one in this season of giving and receiving?

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Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).