Over the years, my wife and I, and especially our kids, have received tons of gifts. Unfortunately, many of these gifts are not necessarily beneficial to the ones who receive them.
I have attended many parenting talks hosted by my church community (Christ’s Commission Fellowship, or CCF for short, a great disciple-making church located downtown), and often times, the verse Luke 2:52 comes up. It is the last verse of Jesus’ childhood, and it goes:
“and Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God and man.”
Here’s a great model of how a child should grow. Jesus grew in wisdom (intellectually) and stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially). Everything that we do with our kids should be purposeful in developing these four areas. To me, that “everything” should include gift giving. I have made it a point that whenever I give a gift, it should help develop the recipient intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.
Allow me, oh gift-givers, to list down what I’d stray away from when I shop for gifts (very un-Luke 2:52). I’m sure this list in not extensive, but it’s a great start.
|A dentist's worst nightmare|
2. Toy guns. I was advised by a great parent and mentor not to buy guns for my son, because they do nothing for him except allow him to make-believingly act out violent scenes. I totally agree. Kids don’t need to pretend-shoot their friends, and they won’t benefit or learn anything from doing so. Remember, the young child is constructing himself—and if that construction involves “bang, bang—you’re dead”…well, he may not ever shoot anyone, but he’s not learning the best values, either.
3. Violent programs/cartoons. A mentor of mine often says that kids of a certain age tend to hero worship and tend try to be like the heroes they idolize. Now, if the moral example they get is very violent, what will be absorbed in their little heads? I know some irresponsible parents who allow their kids to watch violent programs (explicative-filled action movies, reality boxing shows, etc.), and then their kids run out and re-enact the scenes on the playground. Even children’s programs themed on “good guy beats the tar out of the bad guy” shouldn’t be shown to very young audiences.
4. Video games. Same story as above plus (and this is a HUGE plus) they are very, very addicting...I should know. I have some video games for the kids in the computer, but they’re usually puzzle games or ones that teach typing skills. Still, kids today are quite sedentary compared to previous generations, and so the gifts given should encourage them to get out some (grow in stature, remember?). Video games, with few exceptions, don't do that.
5. Media or toy franchises that promote vanity or self-consciousness. With all the narcissism that gets pounded into our minds every day, the last thing my kids need is some Bratz merchandise that will make them more conscious of “strutting their stuff” and all other emotions focused on self. I want my kids to be modest and others-centered. Their Christian and Montessori backgrounds do a good job there, but they can’t be totally sheltered from all the “spaghetti pababa” (a suggestive Filipino song) stuff out in the world. Me, as a gift-giver, will not promote that culture to the kids I give gifts to.
This season, I will do my utmost in choosing gifts that help the recipient grow in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God, and man. If I have time, I’d post a blog with my recommendations on Luke 2:52 gifts. Stay tuned. Oh, comments are welcome.