Blessed are the they who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be filled. -Matthew 5:6
I was blessed to be raised as the oldest child in a big family. It was an environment in which money was valued in terms of what we needed rather than what we wanted. I admit, though, that as a child I did not always see this as a blessing. Like almost any child I know, I really, really (really) wanted things, especially things that my friends had that my parents could not always afford to give me.
And although my husband and I severely restrict television and technology in our home, I find my children (five who are homeschooled an one that is public-schooled) developing the same desire for *things* that I did.
And I worry that I am failing in yet another important aspect of parenting.
So, while world tries to convince my children that money buys happiness, I am trying to convince them that only God can give them true happiness. And I try to convince myself that, in the end, getting one’s needs met by God is what we really want.
Although my children are not old enough to understand the faith connection yet, the one thing they do understand is the hunger and thirst that comes from having empty bellies. Three of my children, who were adopted out of foster care, suffered greatly when their need for food and drink was never met. I’ll likely spend a lifetime trying to get them to understand that they will never experience hunger to that degree again. And, yet, I know that they will continue to hunger and thirst in emotional ways due to early deprivation.
My goal, then, is to simply fuel them with enough faith to put their hunger and thirst for God before their hunger and thirst for food and more material *things.* For example…
- Before each meal, we read a devotional story and pray together as a family – even when we are eating outside of the home
- Although the children eat breakfast before attending mass on Sunday, I choose to break my own fast with the eucharist
- We attend the earliest mass available to us on Sunday in order to put God first in our day
- I start every morning with bible study before launching into the elements of my every day: making breakfast, checking email, getting dressed, etc.
- On gift-giving holidays, such as Easter and Christmas, we attend mass as a family before opening presents or hunting for candy-filled eggs
- We do not give our children allowance based on doing household chores that need to be done every day. Rather, we reward them for serving in more virtuous ways: volunteering, doing something that they are asked to do without grumbling, and so forth. When – and only when – their every day household chores are done (which they don’t earn money for) can they earn money by taking on extra tasks
What about you? Do you have a plan for success in leading your children to hunger and thirst for righteousness? If you do, I would love to hear about the things that work for your family!