False Guilt And Depriving Kids When Money Is Tight
From a Reader
What do you do about guilt? We used to have a lot of money. We went on big trips, had a huge house, and had our 4 kids in private school. My husband was in construction and lost the company he owned. We went from 250,000 to 40,000 a year salary- I’m a teacher. Our savings was lost in the stock market. Well, I feel so bad for the kids. I know we are teaching them important lessons but when they can’t do sports or clubs, my heart breaks. We know God holds us in his hands-1Timothy 6 is an all time favorite in my family but having to tell the kids no so often breaks my heart.
I’ve been a big fan of your site for a long time and I’m so grateful for all your books-I’ve loved them!
This is just one of many questions we get along this same line so I thought I would address it in a newsletter and hopefully help others who are struggling with this same thing. I have also linked to 4 of our other articles below which have sections that deal with this issue, too. Before you read those here are a couple of things to think about.
First, let me ask you– Why are you guilty? Did you purposely make your husband lose his company? Did you cause the stock market to mess up your savings? Are you keeping your kids from doing the things they want because you want to hurt them? Of course not. I’m sure that your answer to all of these questions is no so why do you hold yourself personally responsible for it all and feel guilty?
What you are feeling is false guilt and you have to be so careful as a Christian not to give into it. Satan gets frustrated because he can’t make you sin by committing adultery, murder or stealing so he comes in the back door and tries to destroy our families and our lives with false guilt. I have seen false guilt do so much damage in the lives of Christians and until you let it go, it will eat you alive and spill over to your husband and kids in so many ways.
Even though we will “bravely” say with our lips, “I know God is in control,” what we are really saying with our actions is “I know you are in control but, since you aren’t doing what I think is best, I am going to try to fix things. Then I can give my kids what I think they really need and what is best for them.” I don’t want to sound harsh here and I have felt what you are feeling, too. I also know how deadly false guilt can be to a family so I will risk sounding harsh if it helps for someone to see what is happening.
It is critical that you get the right attitude towards your circumstances because your children are watching you and following you. As long as you think they are being deprived, they will think it, too, and that will hurt them more than the doing without things. Kids pick up on fear, anger and guilt. Even the sweetest kids will milk it for all it is worth but just stick to the facts and say, “This is the way it is. It’s not great but we will work together as a family to make the best of it.” You will be amazed at how your kids, if they have been taught right, will step up to the plate when the parents have the right attitude.
You need to have the attitude that God has us exactly where He wants us. Get excited about this time. God is opening up new doors and new things to learn. Stop thinking that money and the things it can buy your kids is all that they need in life. Maybe God has allowed this to happen because He wants your kids to learn to be stronger in so many ways. They will learn self control when they can’t always have everything they want. Maybe they can learn to make the the best of bad circumstances by getting jobs and learning to pay for the things they want, enabling them to have more confidence and courage instead of being afraid when life hits them between the eyes.
This is a time you should rejoice and get excited. Your kids may not be receiving as many material blessings but they will be greatly blessed when it comes to building their character and their emotional and spiritual strength. God wants His children to be well rounded in all areas so don’t panic or get upset when He allows things to happen to us or them that might be designed to teach us so many things. But you as a parent have to grab a hold of this idea and grasp it or you children will never understand it or see it.
Life happens. The best thing a parent can do for her children (even better than taking them on vacation or having them in sports) is to teach them how to deal with life the way God wants us to, gratefully, wisely and with courage and wisdom. I am continually thanking God that I didn’t have the money to give my children all the things they wanted, even though I had a hard time dealing with this when it was happening. Now, as I look back, I see that my kids turned out to be very responsible, brave, faith filled and confident adults. I don’t have to worry about them. They know everything they need to know about dealing with the hard knocks of life and they are handling life so much better than most adults their age who had all the things you are not currently able to give your kids.
I one heard a story about an old farmer and a young horticulturist who were asked to plant new trees on a windy section of a mountain. The farmer dug a hole, stuck in the tree, covered it with dirt and walked away and left it. The horticulturist dug a hole, added fertilizer, special soil and mulch and carefully watered each tree every day. After a while, the farmer’s trees looked brown and dead and the other trees were healthy, beautiful and full of green leaves because they had been feed and given the best care. Then a huge wind storm came. The horticulturist’s trees lay dead on the ground, pulled up by the roots because their roots weren’t strong enough. The farmer’s trees were left standing strong. His trees had to work hard pushing their roots deep into the ground to find water because they hadn’t been given everything they wanted and that they were thought to have needed. They stood firm and strong and grew to be beautiful mighty trees.
The same thing applies to us as Christians and to children as they grow. Don’t take this opportunity away from your children but show them how to wisely and bravely deal with it. But first, it has to happen in your own heart. Replace that guilt with confidence and bravery.
For more help on dealing with guilt or providing for your kids, check out the following posts!
photo by: valeriebb