“Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
it’s thinking of yourself less.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Parents are flooded with self-help resources putting much focus on how to keep our kids from being entitled. We’re aware of the downsides of the previous/current “everybody gets a trophy” generation and we don’t want to repeat those mistakes. While the avoidance of repeating mistakes is a good thing, I would like to offer that focusing on teaching our children humility would be better. Much better. If we succeed in teaching humility, entitlement won’t be an issue and the entire universe wins. Humility and entitlement cannot coexist.
My husband and I worked to raise our kids with the purpose in mind of the adults we wanted them to become. Our parenting missions statement was:
“To raise responsible, well-adjusted, emotionally & physically healthy adults who own their own faith and are productive and enjoyable members of society.”
We sifted the bulk of our parenting decisions through this missional screen. Along with loads of God’s grace, it proved to be a successful effort.
Looking back over our child-raising years, one of the best ways we were able to teach our kids humility was to visit other countries. When I was a child, my family lived in Brazil. I saw poverty. I saw hunger. I saw the stark contrast in the way people lived in the stick villages compared to how I lived in my nice safe house with a proper bed and plumbing.
When I had my own children, I wanted them to be aware of that contrast as well. I wanted them to know the difference. I wanted them to see it up close and personal. I wanted them to be grateful. Teaching humility is more than telling our children there are starving kids out there to garner forced gratitude at the dinner table.
Traveling to other countries may not be for everyone, and for the purpose of teaching humility, it’s not necessary. There are some great ways to instill humility in our kids right in your home or neighborhood.
How can we teach humility in an entitled world? Here are a few practical ways:
Serve others. Ring the Salvation Army bell, volunteer in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, take meals to a neighbor, get involved in a project that has a community-building purpose.
Make your biggest Christmas gift one that you give to a non-profit organization you believe in.
Have a poverty night. Go without electricity, turn the internet off, put away all electronics. Light a candle and play a game.
Travel to another country at home. Research a place. Find recipes. What would they wear to dinner? How would they get around town? What would their table look like? Would they even have a table?
Incorporate scripture memory into your daily routine. Discuss ways that Jesus exemplified humility.
Pray with them for the character trait of humility to develop and strengthen.
Plant a garden. Discuss how many people around the world can’t get to a grocery store to their buy food. They are completely dependent on the land for their food. Talk about how this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Have a hot night. Make the refrigerator off limits. Explain that many people only eat fresh foods due to lack of access to electricity and/or convenient appliances and how this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Plan your weekly grocery budget based on what a family in an underprivileged country would live on. Let your children choose the country.
Cook dinner for the week using only what you have in your fridge and pantry. Then donate your excess grocery budget to support a worthwhile organization.
Start a family gratitude journal. Be purposeful about adding to it. Being grateful is the catalyst for being truly humble. (FYI, this will become a family treasure one day.)
Practice humility in yourself. What we teach our children is more caught than taught. Lead by influence. They may still not choose to follow but being an influencer rather than an enforcer will certainly not hurt.
What would you add? What do you do as parents to teach your children humility?
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4
Andrea Stunz has been a Christ-follower from the age of seven. She is the loyal wife to one, loving mom to three amazing adult children, grateful mother-in-law and ridiculously proud grandmother. A well-traveled Texan, having lived in Brazil, Asia, and the UK, Andrea finds joy in her family, grace in her friends, beauty in a story, purpose in the sunrise, wonder in her travels, and hope in Colossians 1:17. Andrea longs to encourage others by sharing stories because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing”. Find more from her at AndreaStunz.com.