I remember when each of our girls turned 1 year old. There’s a tradition that I didn’t even know existed, that my wife made sure we participated in. The entire family gathered around the giant table to light a candle and sing “Happy Birthday.” But then came the addition that I was not aware of. One that part of me continued to happen on our birthday’s until someone was….let’s say….near 30. 🙂
There was a birthday cake, just like any other party. But there wasn’t just one cake. There was another, smaller version of the cake, intended for the birthday girl all to herself. When the time came, we set the small cake in front of her and wait to see what would happen.
Her eyes grew wide as she took in the vision of frosty baked goodness in front of her. Maybe a moment or two of disbelief, as she looks around. Surely this must be a test? This couldn’t be intended for my enjoyment alone? Finally, her true desire is revealed. She has behaved and told herself “no” long enough.
She is transformed into the being commonly referred to by Dr.Kevin Leman as a “hedonistic little sucker of the ankle-biter battalion”. 🙂 I know many aren’t fans of him calling these cute little fluffy babies anything less than angelic. But we all know it to be true. Even as infants, our children are born with a natural self-inclination, and desire for pleasure. No one needs to teach this to them, or any of us. If something is enjoyable or tasty, we want it. (sidenote: I once met a guy who used the word “tasty” in place of “awesome”. I’ve tried to use it also. So far it doesn’t work for me, but I’m gonna keep trying.)
One of our roles as parents, is to teach our children self-denial. To help them experience waiting for what they want. Working toward something. Enjoying something slowly. Saying “no” to something, even when they could say “yes”.
Because we live in a world of assumed expectations. A culture of entitlement, where the “Pursuit of Happiness” (as defined by any individual) is a basic human right declared in our Declaration of Independence. There are children (and adults) today, who take every day by the horns, wondering how it can serve them.
As followers of Christ, one of our parental responsibilities is to train our children to put others first. To proclaim Christ as Lord, instead of self, or selfish pursuits. To lead them in lives that reflect Philippians 2:4, knowing life will go well for those who appreciate the little things:
“not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”