OK, I’m about over summer. I’m ready for the simplicity of Fall. I know Fall is anything but simple for those that are involved in extra-curricular activities, but there’s something about the Fall that brings order back to chaos. It brings organization and schedules. It brings people back home. It brings families back together. It brings a level of calmness to me, as a minister’s wife, because we are not fighting a losing battle of “where are all our kids this summer?” I’m tired of summer.
This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be on summer break?
• For teachers I’m sure it’s a time to relax, have ADULT conversation, and catch up on things around the house that might’ve been put on the back burner during the school year
• For administrators I’m sure it’s a time to relax, re-organize, revamp, and renew their spirits for another school year
• For parents I’m sure it’s a time to take a break from making lunches, getting everyone out the door by 7:30AM, and having to maintain schedules
• For students I’m sure it’s a time to not have to wake up so early, not have to do homework every night, to stay up later, and to be excited to spend time with their friends
And yet…I guarantee, after awhile, the excitement wore off for those kids. I can guarantee, probably after the 2nd week or so, they were “bored” and waiting to be ENTERTAINED!
When did the idea of entertaining our children become so prevalent? I don’t remember asking my mom to play with me much when I was younger. I remember my friends coming over (and us playing for hours together in my room or on the trampoline outside), but I don’t really remember my mom having to entertain me. And yet, now children want to always be busy….they want to always have something to do. Why must we have to GO and to entertain them all the time?
While reading up on “entertaining your children” I was saddened by certain catch phrases I read, aimed at parents who want to entertain their children. Here a few that I found on one particular website….
• Have you ever wondered how you could entertain your child?
• Does your child always complain about being bored?
• Do you get frustrated seeing your child being idle?
• Children can be a pain when they get bored and turn to you for all their amusement.
• They will drag you from your work and make you entertain them!
Well, here are some ways you can help your child have a good time…..
“Children can be a pain…..they will drag you from your work….make you entertain them!”
So sad….so sad that this particular website would say those things about children. And so sad that their advertisement might actually work because I’m sure parents probably hear these lines a lot during the summer:
• “Will you play with me, Mom?”
• ”I’m bored.”
• “What is there to do today?”
• “There’s nothing to do!”
• “It’s too hot; I don’t want to go outside.”
• “Fine, but can you go outside with us?”
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to play with your children, but in truth, we (as adults) have been fed a huge misconception:
What if we really just want our children to be holy, healthy, and well-rounded….and not always happy?
Yes, as an aunt, a youth minister’s wife, a babysitter, and a friend, I want children to have a happy childhood, but….
Happiness is the product of situations and how they are perceived, based on what is going on around you. If “good” things are happening, then children (and adults) are more prone to be happy. If “bad” things are happening, then people are more prone to be unhappy. Happiness is an emotion, a feeling, and a product of our sinful hearts. We are not promised happiness all the days of our lives nor are we promised that we’ll always get our way (which often makes us feel happy).
In Psalm 16 (vs. 5 and 11) the psalmist David cries out to the Lord: “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure….You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.”
So, to me….I want to experience abundant joy. I want children to experience abundant joy…without having to be busy all the time. Find contentment in the quiet.
Joy is the overwhelming sense of comfort and contentment when we are living in Christ’s will. And, for our children, it is the overwhelming comfort that they see and experience through their parents and their ability to rest in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is first and foremost in their lives (Ephesians 1:17 NLT).
I want the children around me to experience abundant joy. I don’t want them to have momentary happiness based on their current situation, whether it’s another trip to see family or the latest trip to the beach. I want them to know, understand, and be content in all circumstances, regardless of whether or not someone/something is there to entertain them.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (HCSB), “But godliness with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.”
We have joy when we realize God has allowed everything that happens, and that God is still in control. He will never lose control, thus we can be confident and joyful in Him.
Now, don’t get me wrong or misunderstand, there is great happiness (in joy) when following Jesus Christ and great happiness when you choose to stay home and not “go,go,go” all the time…..God gives us GOOD gifts! It’s okay to laugh and play and enjoy life, but children (and some adults) need to know, understand, and process that Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him should come FIRST in your life, above all else.
• Above the latest movie coming out.
• Above going to the grocery store.
• Above taking the boat out on the lake.
• Above going to visit grandma.
• Above going to someone’s birthday party.
• Above your own selfishness.
• Above your desires to have everything go “your way.”
Above EVERYTHING-your relationship with Jesus Christ (AND your relationship with fellow believers) should be # 1.
If we constantly try to entertain our children (with no regards to the fact that church/fellowship/community still happens during the summer), we are allowing our children to walk a very dangerous line.
Our kids don’t always have to be entertained….the absence of something to do is a chance for children to think and calm down. Children don’t need to have parents fill every minute with activities. Otherwise, a child may think they need to be entertained all the time, which isn’t positive or realistic.
1. If we constantly entertain our kids, we are unintentionally training them to expect others to entertain them as they grow up. Teachers, friends, and spouses will be expected to make them happy. They will never be satisfied, and they will always want something more, something else, even someone better. That is not only unrealistic; it is scary.
2. If we constantly entertain our kids, we will prevent them from learning the joy of their own company and we will stifle their creativity. This is short-sighted and extremely sad.
3. If we constantly entertain our kids, they will not learn the necessity of waiting. And they will be less likely to wait for a promotion, for sex in marriage, for a relationship to be healed. It is in the little things in life that we equip them for handling the big issues and teaching them to wait is crucial. They must learn now that they cannot always have what they want when they want it, even someone to play with them.
4. If we constantly entertain our kids, they will not learn the value of quiet, or meditation, and this will inhibit their ability to learn how to listen to God and to worship. Meditation and worship are not natural. They have to be nurtured and nurturing the soul of our child begins when they are young.
(ideas from When Your Child Says, “There’s Nothing To Do”)
So, what does this mean?
Two main things:
1.) Teach your children to be a part of the community where you live….
2.) We should lead by example….
For some maybe it means:
• We don’t have to go on 3-4 trips this summer to keep our kids busy and entertained.
• We don’t have to be gone every weekend to try to visit everybody on our summer break.
• We don’t have to visit every amusement water park in Texas, just because it’s hot outside.
• We can teach our children the value of saving our money and find free things to do at home.
For others it might mean:
• We can relax and allow our children to play at home.
• We can teach our children the value of “make-believe.”
• We can turn off the electronics and teach our children to play….alone.
• We can teach our children the value of spending time with our church family, being in church and BEING the church, serving others monetarily or with our time and other resources.
So….remembering what Moses told the people, in regards to the Ten Commandments that God had shared with them on Mt. Sinai….
“…You must be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, following his instructions in every detail. Stay on the path that the LORD your God has commanded you to follow.” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33)
“These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the LORD your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life.” (Deuteronomy 6:1-2)