There’s a Blessing in the Struggle
Ever notice how our modern conveniences mess with your parenting game?
Smart phones, two-day package delivery and dinner delivered in 30 minutes works great for us hard working mama juggling all the things.
But if your child is enjoying all the perks too, how do you raise grateful children? Children who appreciate benefits come at a cost and there’s a blessing in the struggle.
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Homework: Counting the Cost
Instead of giving your child everything she wants, when she wants, how can you build the patience, endurance, and perseverance muscles in her needed for success? Everything comes at a cost. How can you make that a practical reality for your son at home, before the rude awakening of the real world?
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Take Care of You, Too
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Episode 46 transcript
So we’re watching an episode of the Wonder Years remake on our DVR, when a commercial comes on. Wasn’t 5 seconds in when my daughter says, “Uh Dad, isn’t this a commercial?” She said it like it was beneath her to be exposed to such.
Mark and I chuckled because while we grew up watching commercials, we can’t wait to skip them either. But every once in a while we find ourselves enjoying one—God forbid—before we realize we don’t have to. Not our kids though. The only use they have for commercials are the ones on Super Bowl Sunday.
And in a world with Amazon Prime’s ridiculously convenient 2 day, even next day delivery, how can you possibly raise grateful children in an instant gratification society? Let’s talk about that in Episode 46 of Motherhood Unmasked.
October is National Book Month and I’m sure you encourage your children to read because it’s the most economical and effective way to invest in their growth. And while the same goes for you and I, reading is often the last thing on my mind because there’s so many other things to do. When did reading become a luxury we can’t afford?
Well, in honor of this month, I encourage to invest in your development by putting together a small reading list. And I recommend my book, DADDY’s Girl Forever, because it addresses the big impact your little girl experiences have on the woman and mother you are today.
Women, like me, who struggled with insecurity and either tried to compensate with perfectionism or got stuck in overwhelm, found the truths in DADDY’s Girl Forever liberating.
And because you may not like reading or getting a moment to sit and read is the real luxury, I’m happy to say you can listen to my book on Audible. Whatever book format you prefer, you can find out how to get your copy at vinelifefaith.com/books. That’s vinelifefaith.com/books. Now, let’s get into today’s episode!
Hey there, Mama Bare. Vanessa here with compassion, candor and clarity for you, the mom who works to provide her children with the best but also wants them to appreciate it, and finds striking that balance rather tricky.
I’m right there with you, friend, so I’m grateful to have you join me for this episode.
My family and I live in Texas, but if you’re a regular, you know I’m a proud New Yorker—from The Bronx, to be exact. I remember one day being a teenager fixing something to eat in the kitchen with my dad, when he said something profound while we were doing something so mundane.
He said a parent should do better for their children than was done for them. And by better, he meant by way of exposure rather than easy. Making his way on wit, wisdom, and skilled labor, my dad, along with my mom, enjoyed a middle class income in the southeast Bronx—not a reality enjoyed my everyone in our community.
Their income allowed me to attend fine private schools and travel internationally, but I had chores and worked summer jobs and my first designer bag—a tobacco colored Coach compact flap messenger bag—I bought that with my earnings. A bag I still own and wear because I value it. It didn’t come easy for me.
My dad didn’t elaborate on his point that day in the kitchen, but now that I have my own family, I realize he meant giving your kids better without making them bratty.
Now nostalgia says, “That was easy to do back then when parents didn’t have the technology and access of today.” But truth says, “They had their own conveniences never enjoyed by the previous generations that made it challenging for them to expose me to more without eliminating struggle.”
That’s a cuss word in a world of one hour delivery and thousand dollar phones in the hands of children. The things our children enjoy now, I didn’t even know to desire when I was their age. That’s how rapidly technology is advancing and they got their expensive toys without working a job.
So now you have a whole generation allergic to the word ‘wait’—never mind ‘no.’ And what they have, they think they’re owed because it came automatically. But gratitude is what helps a child appreciate what it costs to have what they have.
That in this life everything costs whether it’s time, money or sacrifice. And though you and I want better for our kids, the trick is not providing it at the expense of their struggle. Because it’s in the struggle that a child appreciates the blessing in his advantages. It’s also how your child becomes the fullness of who she is meant to be.
I love butterflies! They’re beautiful and delicate, but far from weak. You remember how one starts out: an unattractive caterpillar, crawling around trying to avoid getting stepped on or eaten till it was large enough to make a chrysalis for it to become greater. But the only way to greater, to the beauty of a butterfly, is by breaking out of that chrysalis.
And it’s a struggle, but breaking through adversity is also the way for that butterfly to develop the power to soar.
We do our children a disservice giving them everything they want, when they want. They become ungrateful—everything and everyone cheapened in their eyes; they don’t develop a work ethic, and they don’t rise to their highest potential.
I know it’s easier to just let them enjoy the same creature comforts you do.
And while I’m all for working smarter, not harder, and building convenience into life to offset its challenges, nothing about raising thoughtful, confident, reliable and resilient men and women happens with ease. Parenting is work. Work that involves temporary sacrifice so your child can soar.
So, my sons spent a couple years cutting our lawn in the Texas heat with no pay. Not because we can’t pay them or someone else (who quite frankly does a better job than our boys ever did), but because they’ll have their own homes someday.
And no one’s going to pay them to cut the grass at their own house. Even if they get someone else to cut their grass, they’re going to know what it takes, what the job’s worth, and how to do it themselves should their landscaper stand them up.
And we’re equal opportunity over here, so my daughter will learn how to cut the grass just like I did as a teen, and my sons will know they’re way around a stove too.
Because Uber Eats is cute and quick until they look up one day and have love handles, they didn’t order with their Buffalo wings because I didn’t teach them to wait for quality food they cooked themselves!
And yes, that conviction cost me.
It cost me an unattractive yard compared to my neighbors and meals I’ve had to force a smile sometimes while I ate them. But as my husband often tells the kids, “Every day, in every way, they get a little better.” And the better comes through the struggle.
This week’s homework is figuring out how to build a little struggle into your kid’s life.
As I reminded one of my sons the other day, he’s enjoying the fruit of our labor and it’s our job to prepare him to enjoy the fruit of his own. So what can you do to build the patience, endurance and perseverance muscles in your kiddo? Character qualities they need because the rest of this world is not interested in making everything easy for your baby.
My children, like yours, want stuff and want it like yesterday because that’s the only speed of culture they’ve ever known. But our home is a culture within the culture and my husband and I set the pace here. So when they make requests, our answers are either yes, no, not yet, or not on our dime.
Many things get a yes, but the ones they magnify the most are the answers they don’t like. Shocker! But everyday they get up, they prove that not getting everything they want, when they want, isn’t deadly.
Something you and I already knew to be true, but get sucked into the get more and get it now message just like anyone else. And while I don’t suggest going back to the pre smart phone and Amazon prime days, your children could benefit from making do without everything you enjoy.
Why not leave them something to set their sights on as adults? They’ll live and be the better for it.
I hope this episode reminded you of the value of delayed gratification in producing true gratitude in your child. Speaking of reminders, I remind you to set your sights on your growth and development with a small reading list. And, as always, please remember, when it comes to you being the mother of your children, you are the woman for the job. Take care.
Thanks for joining me today! To get to know me better, get access to resources that empower you as a mom and to order your copy of DADDY’s Girl Forever head on over to vinelifefaith.com.
Motherhood Unmasked is sponsored by Vine Life Faith, where we’re breaking negative cycles and building healthy community through connection with Christ. vinelifefaith.com.