By Sylvia Cochran – Christian Parenting

Commercials tell your child that a new doll, new toy or new video game will make him happy.

The Bible tells the youngster that it is more blessed to give than to receive. You are trying not to be a killjoy during Christmas, but you do not want to spoil the kid. Is it possible for a Christian parent to train a child to become a smart consumer? Actually, it is a lot easier than you think. It comes down to avoiding four common pitfalls associated with parenting against the backdrop of a spiritual lifestyle.

1. But my child asked for it , (or: Luke 11:11)

Adherents to the belief that a child should be given what is within the parent’s power to give usually rely on the scripture that reads, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?” The fallacy arises from the fact that the aforementioned fish is a necessity in that it is a nourishing food staple; a new Nintendo game quite clearly is not.

While the Christian parent is most certainly obligated to provide a child with all the necessities of life, there is no call to also provide all the luxuries money can buy. Help your child to know the difference between need and want, and you have won half the battle.

2. It looks healthy , (or: Matthew 23:27-28)

This is a common refrain in the grocery store. Junior is loudly demanding junk food; mom offers some token resistance and then caves. The child leaves the store with the desired (and frequently unhealthy) food item, while mom rationalizes that it looks okay on the picture and cannot therefore be all bad. In Scripture, Christ compared the Pharisees to whitewashed tombs that look great on the outside but have a corrupted interior. Stretch the metaphor a bit, and it also applies to commercially advertised junk food.

PBS Kids offers invaluable insights into food photography and advertising tricks related to the marketing of junk food. The wise Christian parent will make the time to learn about the tricks of the advertising trade and then help open the child’s eyes about them as well. Now work with your child to understand the “junk” in junk food. Look for healthier options together and limit junk food as an occasional treat. Practice saying “no.”

3. Everyone is buying it , (or: 1 Corinthians 15:33)

“Bad company corrupts good character,” the Bible warns. If “everyone” owns the latest iWhatever, should you buy one for your child? You might agree to buy it so your child will not feel left out. How will you react when “everyone” does drugs, drinks booze, parties or steals? Can you tell your child that following the lead of “everyone” is right sometimes? In fact, you cannot. Instead, you must teach your child to be discerning.

Just because everyone is buying a certain product does not mean that the brand is superior. It may just mean that the manufacturer succeeded in snaring a celebrity, paid the star well and as a result garnered a celeb endorsement. Help your child think through her buying choices. Take the child to the store to compare brands. Be objective; if the desired brand item is indeed superior to the no-name brand, say so. If, however, it is inferior, be sure to point out the inferiority to your child. Should proof be insufficient to dissuade your child from wanting a useless item on your dime, it may be time to change her circle of friends.

4. I won’t let my child buy junk with his money, (or: Proverbs 21:20)

You give your child an allowance, but you rule his spending with an iron fist. You remember, “a foolish man swallows up” all he has. While you may avoid a $5 spending mistake today, you just set up your child for a $50,000 spending mistake in 10 years, when he buys his first car and gets taken for a ride (literally and figuratively).

The Christian parent must teach a child about money management by allowing the youngster to make mistakes with the money. Allow her to save up money for a toy you know will break (be outdated, cannot possibly be as good as advertised ,) within hours of purchase. Let her feel the sting of disappointment. The $5 lesson she learns today will help her make a better buying decision next time.

 

Sylvia Cochran

Sylvia is a seasoned freelance writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years, and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money. Sylvia also provides Free Online Christian Parenting Courses at Suite 101
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