Q.We're constantly hearing from our preteen daughter what "everyone else has" when it comes to designer labels, cell phones, and the latest hot gadget. We're concerned about her preoccupation on material things. How do we shift her focus?
A. If you have the money to buy your daughter the "latest and greatest," but you're choosing to invest in something that won't be yesterday's news by this afternoon—such as faith–based organizations, your local church, and/or a college tuition fund—then take her out for some ice cream and talk to her about the biblical principles that shape your priorities, such as tithing and stewardship.
Perhaps buying the things your daughter's clamoring for isn't even an option for your family. Then this is the perfect time to give your daughter a lesson in real life. Over the next couple months, invite her to join you at the kitchen table on bill–paying night. Show her your stack of bills. Teach her how to make out a check; direct her attention to how much money it takes to pay for all the things you need and use as a family.
If your daughter still wants all that extra stuff, let her have it—as long as she can pay for it. Encourage the entrepreneur in her. She may balk that other parents don't make their kids pay for their inalienable teen rights. Simply explain it's your responsibility and privilege to prepare her for survival after high school. To give her less is to love her more.
But how do we get to our child's heart? Jesus told us in Matthew 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." The key is to discover where your daughter's heart beats in rhythm with God's. Without bringing up the subject of money, talk to her about what touches her heart. Is it hungry children? Abused animals? Babies' lives ended before they've hardly begun?
Together, get involved in serving an organization that addresses this need. Once her heart gets involved, pray her treasure will follow. You may be surprised where her Christmas money from Grandma is spent next year.
LISA WHELCHEL is the author of Creative Correction (Focus on the Family), So You're Thinking About Homeschooling (Multnomah), and the founder of MomTime Get–A–Ways. She and her husband, Steve, have three children. E–mail your parenting questions for Lisa to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2005 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today magazine.Click here for reprint information on Christian Parenting Today.