‘That’s okay, you always tell Santa NOT to give me a present anyway!’
This happened a few days ago on a visit to our local Zoo. The Christmas signs were all still up and my daughter was asking if she could go and see Santa but I explained that he wasn’t there anymore.
What was surprising about my daughter’s comment was how matter of fact it was.
She wasn’t upset or angry but she did need me to know that she could see that I obviously didn’t want her to have a present from Santa.
Her accusation is true as well! If I ever take my children to see Father Christmas and there is an option to see him for free by not having a present then that is what we do.
Does that make me a bad parent?
(I expect there will be a range of views about this among all of you reading this!)
One of the things that I find upsetting in life is the amount of stuff that we accumulate that often is fairly unimportant to us. The type of gift you are likely to get from a £5 visit to Santa is likely to fall into this category, and it can often broken or forgotten by the next day.
My daughter wasn’t genuinely upset with me, but if she had of been I would have gently reminded her of all the things I do for her. Imagine someone complaining to the person who had paid for them to visit the Zoo that they hadn’t paid a few extra quid for a cheap present. Imagine someone having a go at the person who feeds, clothes and gives them a home, saying that they don’t seem to care because they won’t buy a cheap bit of ‘tat’.
Kids often lose perspective when they don’t get what they want and when they do rant and rave and say that we don’t love them, it’s important that parents stand firm rather than be manipulated.
‘You never get what you want when you shout at us’ is a principle that Tracey and I have tried to teach our children. Sadly they still do shout at us sometimes, but the more they can see it doesn’t work, the less they will try it (that’s our hope anyway!)
As I reflected on my daughter’s comment about presents from Santa, I was left wondering if I ever treat God in the same way?
Imagine me complaining to the person who provides everything for me in life that he hasn’t answered a my prayer in the way that I told him to. Imagine me having a go at the God who loves me because he didn’t give me the cheap bit of tat that I am excited about in the moment.
You see, God is so generous and good to us that it can be fairly pathetic when we do complain about the little stuff.
One of the reasons that we do get frustrated with God is that we do often forget what he has done for us. We constantly need to remind ourselves that he is our loving heavenly father who delights in giving us what is actually good for us.
When kids say or imply that their parents don’t care, it is hurtful and when we say or imply that God doesn’t care I am sure that is hurtful for him as well.
Let’s be grateful to God who loves us more than we can ever know!