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KNOWING THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING AND THE VALUE OF NOTHING
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:7).
Lord willing, if I make it to the middle of next month I will have lived 69 years and what hair is not turning loose is turning quite silver. So I admit right up front that I am getting “long in the tooth” and my opinion on a lot of things is passé in the eyes of my children and their children. I also understand fully that this is something every generation experiences after the torch is passed on to those who come behind. But for the life of me I have great difficulty in understanding why warnings about certain things that inevitably cause problems are ignored when common sense clearly dictates that to engage in such behavior is a recipe for disaster!
A case in point involves the over-indulgence of children. I doubt that there has ever been two generations in all of human history to equal “baby boomers” and their offspring where spoiling kids is concerned. It has become such an accepted way of life that parents are clueless as to how much damage they are doing.
The causes of such behavior are complex, but it appears likely that the genesis was the privations caused by the Great Depression of the 1930’s, followed by World War II. Multiplied millions emerged from that conflagration into an economy that has soared for over sixty years. And the generation that included my parents was determined to afford their children “a better life” than they had experienced—a desire that is certainly understandable. But in their quest to provide that better life many went too far and instilled into their children a love for material possessions. Then over the years that desire has grown exponentially into a lustful monster that is devouring the American family.
A highly significant factor that added fuel to the fire was the unprecedented numbers of women who entered the work force during the war. That cultural upheaval was brought about by them taking on jobs that had formerly been done by men only. But because so many men were drafted into military service it became a practical necessity for women to help sustain the war effort. Then once the war was over, the men returning home found that in many cases they would have to compete with women for the available jobs. As a result increasing numbers of “two working parent” families came into being and having children suddenly became a serious logistical problem. How can mother work if her babies require constant attention? For most it was a no-brainer—they just imposed upon the grandparents or other family members to take care of them! But those arrangements soon proved to be unsatisfactory as people grew tired of having to assume the responsibility and expenses inherent to such long-term care.
Eventually the problem became so wide-spread that entrepreneurs took advantage of it by offering to take care of America’s young in day care facilities —for a fee, of course—and, as they say, the rest is history. What began as a convenience has become an absolute necessity for most working mothers. But one of the most serious downsides is that relative strangers actually spend far more waking hours with their small children than they do.
The quest to “have it all” has taken a tremendous psychological toll on women who have either (1) opted to forego having children to pursue a career or (2) allowed their babies to be raised by others—more often than not in an institutional setting. Their God-given maternal instinct has been suppressed and guilty consciences continue to compensate by showering their children with “things” in a futile effort to make amends for the lack of quality time spent with them.
Also three nutritious and balanced meals a day lovingly
prepared by stay-at-home moms has largely given way to “fast foods” which allow
bone-weary working parents to quickly satisfy growing appetites. And the result
is a catastrophic problem for the healthcare industry as it tries to save
Another interesting aspect of this era has been the emergence of the “soccer mom.” In a frenetic daily ritual of driving all over town in minivans or SUV’s, most of the relative few who do stay at home with their children seem obsessed with making sure their darlings do not miss out on a single sports activity available to them! And if by chance a game conflicts with a church service or other related function, guess which one they will skip? To quote a very old proverb, every one of them “thinks their crow is the blackest,” and get fighting mad at the coach if junior or missy is benched in favor of more capable players. Then judging from the attitude they display one could easily get the impression that life itself was dependent upon their child being a “star.” (The kids would probably have a lot more fun if they were allowed to choose up sides and play while mom and dad stayed at home). Competition is a good thing as long as it is not allowed to get out of hand. But an inordinate emphasis upon winning leads many children who are not athletically inclined or physically capable of such heroics to think they are “losers” when they fail to measure up to expectations. And more often than not, the relative few who demonstrate such ability wind up with swelled heads and the attitude that they can do no wrong because of the adulation heaped upon them by their families and a misguided public.
But in many respects the most damaging aspect of overindulgence manifests itself in a total disconnect between knowing what things cost and the effort that has to be expended to earn the necessary money to pay for them. Most kids today can tell you the exact price of the things they think they cannot live without and could not possibly care less about how hard their parents have to work to pay for them. In very affluent homes this is somewhat understandable because having enough disposable income to buy expensive things is no problem. But whether the family is filthy rich or of modest means, it is a big mistake when parents fail to get it across to their children that “money does not grow on trees.” Because when most of them become adults and are out on their own, they are going to find themselves in entry-level jobs where income must be tightly budgeted in order to pay for the bare necessities. Then when marriage and children are added to the mix it almost always leads to a serious strain on the husband-wife relationship due to tight finances. And those who keep track of such things tell us that the number one factor that contributes to the soaring divorce rate today is heated arguments over how money is to be spent—because there never seems to be enough of it.
Under the best of circumstances the majority of young married couples are going to experience several years of having to pinch pennies in order to survive. And if either or both parties were not taught by their parents to properly appreciate the cost versus value principle they will quickly find themselves butting heads over who gets to satisfy their need for toys and trinkets. Growing up and becoming a responsible adult is difficult enough without the childish handicap of wanting right now what it took mom and dad thirty or forty years to get by hard work and sensible spending.
Have you ever heard one of your children, or grandchildren, say this about their latest “got to have” item: “Well, it only costs (fill in the blank) dollars? Sure you have! And that is exactly how they feel about it, because the value of money is meaningless to them. Most have never had to truly earn an allowance and thus the philosophy of “easy come, easy go” is quickly adopted. My friend, any child that is old enough to receive an allowance is old enough to work for it and parents do them a great disservice if they fail to make them understand the reality behind how much money comes from doing certain kinds of work. (Generally speaking, the harder the job is physically the less money it pays!) And if they learn that lesson at an early age two important things will have been accomplished: (1) They will not want to spend the rest of their life toiling at a low-paying job—which in many respects is the best incentive to get a good education, and (2) The foolish urge to waste money will be curtailed after becoming adults because they know from personal experience how much sweat it takes to earn it.
On the other hand, I know some parents who are relatively affluent and require their children to do worthwhile chores. But they turn right around and ruin the cost versus value lesson by overly compensating them for the amount/difficulty of work they actually perform. They are on the right track but going about it the wrong way! Unless the child is taught to understand the reality that all work does not pay the same they are likely to assume from their own circumstances that a little work always results in a lot of stuff.
Please allow me to relate a personal experience that made a big difference in my own life:
Growing up as an only child I did not lack for anything because my dad made a good living. There was always plenty of food to eat and clothes to wear—plus I was given just enough toys to make me appreciate them. Note that I said “just enough toys” because my parents realized early on that because they only had one child people would be quick to accuse them of spoiling me and they were determined to avoid it. So they intentionally limited the number of “things” I was given and guess what? I took good care of them! And when I was through playing with them I put them back in the appropriate drawer, closet, etc, where they belonged. There was no leaving my bicycle in the middle of the yard to get rained on and rust. No, I always put it back on the porch where it would not get wet. And as I write this article my prized Daisy “Red Rider” BB gun is propped against the wall in my closet not ten feet away from where I am sitting! I am a senior citizen now, but I still have fond memories of playing with that gun—and it still works perfectly!
But by age 16 my parents came to realize that they had made a mistake by not teaching me the work versus compensation lesson. I was required to do some chores around the house (mow the lawn, bring in coal for the heater in winter, etc), but other than being given money for school lunches or a special occasion I did not receive an allowance—much less get paid for doing the chores. So when I got my driver’s license, like most kids that age, I let it be known that I wanted a car. Well, imagine my surprise when we had a little family chat and mother and daddy informed me that I was going to get a job! Hey, I was just a junior in High School and certainly did not want to go to work because I was having too much fun! But the next thing I knew I was “slinging hash” at the paper mill café (3 to 11 after school and 11 to 7 on weekends)—cooking on the grill and making over a hundred sandwiches a night during the two hour period when that particular shift in the mill sent in their orders. And as long as I live I will never forget my first pay day: 56 hours of hard work for a take-home pay of—get this—$ 21.00. Yet I thought I was rich, because I did not yet know the value of money. A dollar was worth more in 1956 than it is today, it still would not go very far back then.
Next on the agenda was the car. And as it turned out Mr. Matthews, an elderly neighbor across the street had won a new car by entering a local supermarket contest. After selling it and putting most of the money in the bank he bought an old 1950 Chevy two door coupe. Why he bought that car I could not figure out because he did not even have a driver’s license and just moved it around the yard occasionally to keep it in the shade! (But I know now that God had put my name on it). Dad eventually got around to asking him if he would like to sell it and for the humongous price of $400.00 I became the extremely proud owner of some wheels. Then came one of the best lessons on money I ever learned.
Dad financed the deal and before we got down to specifics he told me that he had really been tempted to buy me a brand new car. But, he said, “You probably would not have taken proper care of it because it came too easy.” Wiser words have seldom been spoken and the next thing I knew I was obligated to repay him for the price of the car. That was quite a few years ago and I do not recall what my monthly payment was, but I do remember putting the final cash payment on one of mother’s small decorative couch pillows and proudly presenting it to him. And you better believe that I babied that old clunker because it did not take long to find out how much hard-earned money it took to pay for gas, oil and tires!
Do your children truly know the value of a buck? Unfortunately, the present financial situation in this country indicates there is a high probability that you are not fiscally responsible—much less your kids! And if the “shoe fits,” most of the blame lies squarely at the feet (play on words intended) of those who failed you when you were growing up. So are you going to keep that family-destroying trend going or try your best to put a stop to it at your house? Start by finding some chores they are capable of doing and make them earn their spending money, cell phones and game boys. Require them to make their own beds, keep their rooms clean at all times by putting their dirty clothes and trash in the proper places. Teach them to put their toys away when they are through playing with them and they just might turn out to be someone who will be a joy and not a burden to their mate when they get married!
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in). 25 Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life? 28 And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. 29 Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence (excellence, dignity, and grace) was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? 32 For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. 33 But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matthew 6:24-33 (Amplified Bible).
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
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We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order Kingdom of Antichrist in their daily news.
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God bless you