Raising Entitled Children in the Third World

I have just sent my children upstairs in a fit of anger parental wisdom, instructing them to pick up every toy on the floor in the next 30 minutes or it’s gone for good. Already this morning, we have had many conversations about what their responsibilities are and why they should do them. It hasn’t been pretty. When I throw away wasted food, I remind them of the starving children in Africa who would be grateful for a fraction of what I gave them to eat.

Sound familiar? This seems to be a common theme of parents in America- this issue of entitlement.

BUT I LIVE IN AFRICA. Those starving kids are outside my gate. Those toys would make the eyes of those children shine. Those responsibilities I’ve given my kids are nothing compared to their age-mates who are carrying around babies on their backs, carrying firewood for cooking, and carrying water on their head for… everything you need water for.

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My kids see it every day. And while I’m SO grateful that they are starting to really SEE it, with their hearts and not their eyes, it hasn’t changed the issues around the house. If you know my kids and want to stop me here and tell me how precious they are, I would agree with you. They are learning compassion, respect, care for others, and this morning they are learning to care for their things or the things are gone. I do not need Legos or Superman costumes. I don’t think.

I’ve had a lot of parents in America tell me that they wish their kids could come to Africa, have their eyes opened, maybe change them for the good and to be more grateful for what they have.

It won’t work.

Change never happens from the outside in.

(my kids are currently back downstairs after 10 minutes. My train of thought is gone. Their toys better be picked up or I’m having a bonfire tonight and will dance around it gleefully. Where was I?)

Oh yeah, change never happens from the outside in. Moving to a third world country DID NOT fix my selfishness, my desire for cute things for my house, my need for more clothes because I never have anything to wear…. I am living proof that you can live in the midst of poverty, be heartbroken over it, and still struggle with the issues of your own flesh.

No matter where you are, what your income is, and how much you care about the welfare of others, NOTHING, and I repeat NOTHING will change how you live YOUR life except change from within. And since my own willpower is pretty weak 99.9% of the time, I’m going to have to remember to lean into God for that change and intentionally teach my kids to do the same. Probably every day.

Considering how this morning is going, probably every 5 minutes.

~Maggie

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