Thursday, November 26, 2020 00:29

Lessons Learned from Mothers . . . and Dads

no new stuff, stewardship, virtue, child sponsorship

“Virtues are learned at mother’s knee. Vices at some other joint.” So what virtues are our children learning from us?  Specifically, what are they learning from us and our attitudes about stuff?

Growing up in a family of six kids, while we never felt deprived, we did learn to live with less stuff, and I think it was healthy and good for me.

Albert Schweitzer is quoted as saying “There are only three ways to teach a child.  The first is by example; the second is by example; the third is by example.” So as we think about teaching our children, we’ve got to be thinking about how we are teaching these virtues by our own lives.

Three things come to mind.

One, make a decision early on whether you will emphasize experiences or things.  My wife and I decided we would try to give our girls special experiences, and hence we consciously said “no” to a lot of stuff.

To be clear, our girls had everything they ever needed and more.  But compared to some of their friends, they missed out on some stuff.  I remember when they complained because we would not allow them to have TVs in their bedrooms.  (OK.  Some of you think that is silly, but truly, their best friends did have personal TVs.)

Come to think of it, one way I know that they didn’t really miss out on too much is that some of their stuff is still in my basement.  Now ten years after graduation, marriage, and kids, I’ve still got their stuff!

Instead we tried hard to provide fun vacations, summer camp, sports and dance classes, and short-term missions trips.  Those things cost money, too, as you well know.  And because we spent money for those experiences there was less available for buying stuff.

Two, let them see what you do with your money.  Are you buying lots of stuff?  They will expect it, too, if they see you do it. On the other hand, if they see you giving and saving and investing, they will more likely follow that example.

Three, help them see what true poverty looks like. It came way too late in our lives, but we have chosen to sponsor a little boy in Mexico.  I think that supporting a child through Compassion or some such organization can be a great experience for our children.  It doesn’t take much more than a photo and a few letters for a sponsored child for our own children to figure out that they have a lot more stuff than others their age who are stuck in poverty.

Questions:  What do you think about the decision to value experiences over stuff?  What was your first childhood experience with poverty?  What did you learn from it?


Indeed, I am blessed to have had a wonderful loving mother.  She went to be with the Lord last September and this is the first Mother’s Day without her.  She was a good teacher of many Christian virtues and I want to dedicate today’s blog to her memory.

© 2011, Linden Kirby, Excel Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. 

One Response to “Lessons Learned from Mothers . . . and Dads”

  1. Lauren says:

    Thanks for these thoughts and tips on how to teach children the right perspective on "stuff". I agree that a conscious emphasis on experiences over stuff is a good one to have–I know I have benefited from that example from my parents in my growing-up years!