Teaching Kids They Can’t Always Get What They Want

Family / Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

In a culture where the lives of parents often revolve around their children, teaching our children they can’t always get what is essential.

You Can't Always Get What You Want | thisgratefulmama.com

You can’t always get what you want…”

Will someone please tell me they also hear the Rolling Stones singing in their head when they read those words?

It’s probably weird, but sometimes when I say those words to our children I consider breaking out in song. Although, they’ve never heard it, so it will definitely confirm I’m weird. I should rehearse now so I’m prepared for teenage years when they’ll really enjoy my off-key singing.

An Important Lesson

All singing aside, the lesson in these words must be learned. Lately I’ve been feeling an urgency about this subject. It seems like our culture wants to teach our kids they can have what they want; they just need to go out and get it. But it’s not the truth.

You CAN’T always get what you want. You WON’T. And you SHOULDN’T.

As parents, it is our job to teach our kids this lesson. Unfortunately, the task is not easy and is often met with frustration, sighs, crying and general displeasure. We fight against the prevalent worldly influence of entitlement and the pressure to make our children happy regardless of the cost.

It Isn’t Always Fun

I don’t like saying No and sometimes I feel like I’m saying it too much. I don’t like to see our kids disappointed, or with quivering lips. But there are simply some things that require no.

There are things we just CAN’T give them due to insufficient finances, skills or time. Additionally, there are things we just WON’T give them, due to values, priorities or necessity. And there are things we just SHOULDN’T give them, like letting them win every time so they never learn how to lose. Or doing things that require us to favor one child over another or to risk safety or health. And of course, simply because they’re whining.

It seems so logical here on this screen, but  perseverance is often DIFFICULT.

Especially when my husband is out-of-town, or when I’m tired, or when the kids are tired, or it’s just Monday. It would be easier (for me) to just give them that second Popsicle. It would be easier (for me) to pick up the toys for them than to hear them cry while they do it at a snails-pace. At least, for now.

The Long Term Goal

Why, oh WHY, am I putting them myself through this? Because giving in won’t make it easier for me in the long run, or for our children either. The stakes are too high to take the easy way out.

I do want our children to be happy, but not because of stuff, endless activities or getting everything they ask for. My primary goal is for our children to know the Lord. Learning they can’t always get what they want is a hard lesson. It won’t always be fun for them and it surely won’t be fun for us. It’s a good thing I hear a song in my head that makes me smile when I say those dreaded words…

Our kids must learn their perception of fairness may not be what happens. They have to experience not getting what they want in order to be thankful for what they have and what they are privileged to do. They need to learn what absolute truth is, and what God has to say about our behavior.

Our goal is to raise God-fearing adults; contributing members of society who do not expect things handed to them. And who understand that everything is a gift from God and that no one owes them anything.

You can't always get what you want. Our goal is to raise God-fearing adults who are contributing members of society and don't expect things handed to them. #parenting #goals #raisingadults #hardlessons Click To Tweet

Some days, raising adults seems like a lofty goal. Far away. A struggle met with tears, eye-rolls and confusion. Sometimes I feel like giving in to demands and whines. But the big picture matters too much. Failure just isn’t an option. We have to WIN.

Small Victories

I am grateful that with persistence, small victories become more frequent. It’s a gift to recognize moments when disappointment rolls off their shoulders and they understand and accept it. Success is measured in small victories. When they say ‘OK mama’, and go back to playing without batting an eye, I call that success!

Small victories promise adults who know the difference between WANT and NEED. 

But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need”

All those small victories promise success of the ultimate goal: a God-loving, content and grateful adult. So with perseverance and great hope for victory, we follow the wisdom of Solomon and trust God to work in our children’s hearts.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
You Can't Always Get What You Want is a lesson our kids MUST learn! | ThisGratefulMama.com #parenting #teachingkids #lessons #lifelessons  #raisingadults

5 Replies to “Teaching Kids They Can’t Always Get What They Want”

  1. Such true words! It is good to hear that there are other families out there that are fighting the uphill battle against entitlement and selfishness. It is HARD and CONSTANT work, even as they get older, but the goal is worth it. Good for you, Mama! Keep going and keep saying No even when it would be easier to say Yes. You are doing a great job!

    1. Thank you – it is nice to hear someone else spends a little time singing in their head and rejoicing over the small stuff. Without those small victories – I’m not sure I’d make it! Keep up the good work mama!

  2. Such a great post. It is especially hard if you are no longer with the other parent as such behaviours can get stronger. I have to be the one to teach her that we can’t always get what we want and sometimes we have to do what we committed to and not cancel because a better offer comes along! Children nowadays go for short term feels rather than actually what’s going to help them grow up into good humans.

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