Beating First World Syndrome

entitledDo your kids ever manifest symptoms of First World Syndrome? Recent generations of young people have been groomed to have a certain sense of entitlement about them. That something is owed them.  That they deserve more. An expectation of accolades, convenience, and ease. It is grievous and unkind to cultivate this. Suspect there are some kids in your circle of influence who have this condition? Here are some practical questions to help you decide:

  • Do they have SO much, and still want more?
  • They have more, but they wanted a different more?
  • Do their expectations indicate little realistic comprehension of the cost of living?
  • Are they unable to find satisfaction in small gestures?
  • Challenging for them to survive without electronics without withdrawal?
  • Clueless as to how to constructively occupy themselves when there is “nothing to do”?
  • Are they unhappy with generic brands?
  • Do they sit in the car when you go to yard sales or consignment shops?
  • Not adept at mastering the art of waiting (in line anywhere, for a package in the mail, for a Hot Pocket to finish cooking, by saving money over a long period for something special, for their meal to arrive at a restaurant)?
  • Speaking of restaurants…have they lost the sense of novelty in going out to eat?
  • Manifesting a grousing attitude when they don’t have what so and so has, or the newest/best/fastest thing available?
  • Those old enough to hold a job…complaining about duties they don’t particularly enjoy?
  • Exceedingly talented at letting the water run, taking hour-long showers, and wasting resources?
  • Hiking up the electric bill with the loaded fridge door open, proclaiming there is “nothing to eat”?
  • Grumbling attitude about chipping in and sharing the load with household chores?

I could go on, but you get the idea.  We live in a country that is comparatively very wealthy and full of privilege for its citizens. A country where, at any given grocery store there is an entire aisle of breakfast cereals, and another full of pet food. Think of that.


It’s time parents stepped up and behaved as parental beings. “No” is not a dirty word. Having our kids earn things is important, not only for establishing a good work ethic, but to learn the value of things and amp up the sense of gratitude and stewardship for what they have.

We are all prone to complain from time to time, but we don’t need to feed that attitude of discontentment. We need to combat it. It was hard wired into the human heart with the Fall. The apple’s always redder on the other side of the Garden, you know.

How do we suit up as parents against this First World Syndrome? Some ideas (and I’d love to hear yours below):

  • Fasting from electronics. It’s amazing the creativity that can surface (it might make clean ups more frequent…just a heads up).  Here’s a free “I’m Bored Jar” post to help!
  • Taking a trip to a 3rd World country. #immenserealitycheck
  • If the above is not possible, take them to an impoverished location for a long, hard look. When I took a trip to Atlanta with our youngest, she saw folks living on the street, living in boxes. This was no longer fictional part of some TV show…they are real people. Now there is a point of reference for being grateful simply for a warm, safe place to live.
  • Teach them to repair things, not just toss and buy new. This will carry over into their relationships as well.
  • Serving the unfortunate (soup kitchens, food banks, etc.)…and not just as a token guest appearance.
  • Have them write a list of things…specific things….that they are grateful for on a regular basis.  Here is a free gratitude journal for kids!
  • Teach them to budget early (I do this in our schooling when they start middle school), so they have an awareness of the cost of living. This sheds new light on the blessing of yard sales and second hand stores…suddenly “more bang for the buck” is an appealing concept. Here’s a free budgeting game if you want to try it with your kids.
  • Make them do chores to earn money for extras like computer games. Don’t settle for half-done chores…you are training them for their future employer. If you need help with chore charts, here’s a great free resource.
  • Teach clever ways to repurpose/upcycle everything from cast off clothes to leftovers in the fridge.
  • Have them thoughtfully make a list of their wants vs. needs.
  • When they have a car, let them fill the tank.
  • Don’t pile on accolades for generally expected behavior. That future employer won’t give trophies and ribbons for being on time, cleaning up after themselves, or not cutting corners. We shouldn’t teach them to expect it. Teach them to glorify God in all things. In the end, they’ll give account to Him.

There is so much more I could say on this. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Without sounding all doom and gloom, harder times are coming. We want our kids to have survival skills, to remain grounded, so that basic daily needs are attainable and they are not caught like that deer in the headlights. Because when things get tougher, the biggest needs will be heart needs. The true condition of the soul is revealed in technicolor when the body is denied.  We want our kids to be equipped to face all of this with confidence. To learn to work hard even when no one is looking, just like that industrious ant in Proverbs.

Speaking of Proverbs, I’ll end on this note. Moms, that lady in Proverbs 31 was said to be industrious, strong, honorable…she showed her kids what it looked like to work hard and work well (Prov. 31:24,25) and therefore she was well prepared for the future and not intimidated by it (v. 26). Let’s show our kids what this looks like too…so much more is “caught than taught”.

So what’s your first step in modeling the right example for the children in your home today? Cultivating a thankful spirit (1 Thess 5:18) in all circumstances is something I’m working on. You too? Here is a cute, free printable gratitude journal for you!



Let It Go, Mom.

katieoutfitIn going through “Throwback Thursday” photos on Facebook recently, I came across this one. Thinking about it again today, I realized I’ve contrived my own version of “Let It Go”. Mismatched, out-of-season clothes…is that kid happy, loved, fed, modest, and relatively clean? Let it go. On Sundays, I get to pick what she wears, but she does her own styling the rest of the week. If I’m worried about it, it’s because others may think I’m a bad mom for not color coordinating everything, making sure it is a fashionable ensemble. It doesn’t matter. A decade from now, she won’t remember what she wore. Neither will I. She needs to be a kid. 

ps This same principle applies to Pop Tarts for breakfast, school on the trampoline, homeschooling (or not), cloth diapers (or not), nursing your baby (or not), and a host of other things. Let other moms have the same latitude you need. Embrace and encourage your mom friends right where they are…because we all need that. Rest in what your own crazy normal looks like today, and help other moms who are wearily wielding their swords to find rest for their souls. It’s in Jesus, in His perfection. It’s not in trying to attain “perfect mom” status. That’s just plain exhausting.

Lay it all before God, and honor Him.

Guest Post: Sara Wallace, “The Gospel Centered Mom” (with Giveaway!)

fortheloveofdisciplineI’m pleased to have Sara Wallace visiting with us this week, to discuss her new book, For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-Outs. It’s a balanced, scripture-rich approach for this topic, laced with humor and many relate-able personal examples “from the trenches”.  I’ve enjoyed looking through my review copy very much–refreshing! The book is releasing very soon, and you can go here to order!

Sara is a homeschooling mom of 5 (all boys!) and she and her husband are helping establish a new church. She also blogs at The Gospel Centered Mom–go visit! I think you’ll enjoy her perspective!

Sara’s first book by the same name as her blog, is in my hands for review as we speak  (stay tuned–waiting for the crazy to die down a bit!). I love her approach to mom life, all from the regenerative, restorative vantage point of the gospel.  So, without further ado…let’s hear what Sara has to say!


Last year I was an Awana Cubby leader. I had some skin in the game (two Cubbies of my own), so I decided it was only right for me to help out. One night I sat in the back and looked over the sea of little blue preschool vests, the kids wiggling excitedly as they listened to the Bible story from their leader. The leader stopped in the middle of the story to address a couple of distracting Cubbies. “No, Cubbies. We don’t spit on each other. Listen to the story and have self-control.”

I smiled to myself. Good job, teacher, I thought. Don’t let those little troublemakers get away with it. They need to learn self-control now while they’re young. They need to be thoughtful of those around them, respectful of their teacher, and—oh, shoot. Those are my kids.

Discipline always seems easier when we are applying it to someone else’s kids, doesn’t it? When it comes to our own kids, we’re a mess. How do we know if we’re being too hard or too soft? Why does what works for kid number one not work for kid number three? We’re too close to the situation. We’re emotionally and physically drained and headed toward burnout.

I clearly remember a day that I disciplined my three-year-old for throwing a toy in anger. I told him to sit on his bed and think about what we learned about self-control. Situation over, discipline nailed. Right? Not so much. He turned around and said, “No. I will NOT think about ANYTHING.”

Oh, boy. I realized then and there that discipline is not something I can check off my to-do list. It’s an inseparable part of daily parenting – whether I like it or not. After having five boys in exactly seven years, I realized discipline was a train I was not getting off anytime soon.

But at the same time God began showing me that that’s a good thing. I not only want to stay on this train, I want to ride it all the way to its final destination: my kids’ hearts. Discipline allows me to connect with my kids in a personal, precious way. Most importantly, discipline lays the foundation for teaching my kids the gospel.

And now I want to come alongside you parents with a personal and embarrassingly raw account of what God has taught me about the “D” word. What does discipline have to do with the gospel? Theology is wonderful—but how does it help me with my screaming two-year-old in the middle of WalMart? How do we strike the balance between too much discipline and too little, especially when we are exhausted and discouraged?

I didn’t write this book because discipline comes naturally to me. I wrote it because my kid pushed your kid into the pool at swim lessons. I wrote it because last week I had to leave the grocery store early when my kids were wrestling in the aisles. And I wrote it because discipline seems exhausting and discouraging only when we leave out the most important ingredient: the gospel.

If you’re looking for a formula that will turn disobedient kids into perfect little angels, you won’t find it. God doesn’t give us a formula. He gives us principles. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to use those principles to point our kids to Christ. When your kids disobey, they are telling you something. Strain your ears to hear past the tantrums, the rebellious stomping, and the disrespectful tone. They are saying, “Mom . . . I don’t know how to obey on my own. Can you help me?”

This is our time. This is our chance to point our kids to the only thing that matters: the gospel. God has given us the task of discipline not just so we can survive today but to lead our kids to the cross. Discipline is a beautiful privilege and I want to show you how to find joy in it. There is so much more to discipline than creative strategies, checklists, and behavior management. There’s Jesus.

For the Love of Discipline: When the Gospel Meets Tantrums and Time-Outs will be released April 30th. Preorder yours on Amazon today!

Sara Wallace is a wife, author, and stay-at-home mom. She and her family live in Idaho where they minister in their church plant and homeschool their five little boys. Sara loves to cook, decorate her home, and write about the crazy blessing of parenting. 

To be included in the giveaway for a copy of Sara’s new book, please comment once below this post. Winner will be drawn via on 4/30/18!

The Gospel Centered Mom–Giveaway!

gospelcenteredmomI just got my review copy yesterday!

“I think you’ll agree with me that nothing knocks your pride flat on the ground, crumbles your sense of self-sufficiency, or liquefies all those rational brain cells you worked so hard to develop in college like motherhood. The mess leaves room for little else. Ironically, the fuller life gets, the more room there is for the gospel.” (pg. 9)

I think I’m going to like this book! 🙂

I have another copy that I am going to give away to one lucky winner! If you would like to enter to win, just comment on this post. Comment only once (multiple commenting will result in being removed from the drawing). I will use to draw the name of our winner a week from today, on Thursday, March 15.  The winner’s name will be posted in the comments on this blog post, so be sure to follow this!

To learn more about the book, go here. It’s very economical, and in a nice, concise, spiral (and hardbound) format, and even comes with its own pen! Sara also has a blog here.

I plan to begin a chapter by chapter study through this book, and will be doing something new and posting the weekly discussions here on the blog. They will be in video format. Let me know if you would like to join us here…I’d love to have a good group of moms doing this together. The chapters are not lengthy, and each has study questions. One thing I really like is that Sara includes a scripture index at the end. I’ve done the same for my current study group through Heidi St. John’s Becoming MomStrong book study...because in the end, God promises to bless His word and He’s never wrong. We need that firm foundation of truth for any parenting study. Agree? 🙂


Just Mom

Dear Mom Friend,

I wonder if this has ever sounded like you:

I’m just mom.


  • the one who nags about getting the chores done
  • the one who is supposed to keep things like milk and toilet paper in stock
  • the one who pushes for the school work to be finished
  • the one who has the answer to “What’s for supper?”
  • the one who expects teeth to be brushed and clean clothes to be worn
  • the one who checks under the bed when when the room is pronounced to be clean


  • not remarkable
  • not significant
  • not the “show case” mom
  • not the “amazing” mom
  • not the “fun” mom
  • certainly not the June Cleaver/Proverbs 31 Woman hybrid I once aspired to be

I’m just mom.

Recently in a school Bible lesson we were listening to, the children in the listening audience were asked to choose the person most inspirational in their lives. Without missing a beat, our youngest chirped, “I know who mine would be…it would be (insert name that isn’t mine)!” And, just like that,  the accuser of the brethren had his foothold. I allowed him to firmly plant his foot there in my heart, and he whispered that “just mom” speech in my ear, trying to convince me that my life is mundane, what I do is unimportant.

Thing is, the “inspirational” person my daughter chose is a lovely person. I’d like to be like her myself. And the other thing is this…my goal as a mom is not to be remarkable, significant, amazing, fun, or a sort of trophy to exhibit…it is not to compare. My most important “accomplishments” may never be noticed while I walk this earth…not by other people, anyway.

What I needed in that moment was truth. Even the most subtle of Satan’s whispers can drown out the Spirit’s still, small voice when that soul is weary, fearful, hormonally-challenged, or overwhelmed. I needed the stabilizing truths of the Word to trample down the  deceitfulness of my own heart. I needed to speak freeing truth…the truth which releases from the shackles of discouragement…into my own heart, and take control of my thinking. Ladies, our adversary wants us on the bench, any way he can do it. Be on the watch for his prowling, wicked advances.

More and more I want the inner strength that passes the test. I want to be the marathon runner who endures and pushes past the weakness and failings, the self-doubt and the unrealistic expectations. I want more and more to be the kind of mom who prays in secret, wearing out the knees of her soul, and gives unreservedly and without fanfare.

“And may they forget the channel, Seeing only Him.”

Don’t let the enemy of your soul speak lies to you. Hug your kids tight, with that mixture of fierce love, wistful hope, and a smidge of healthy watchfulness only you can infuse into it.

That can’t be done by just anyone, Mom.

You are His choice “for such a time as this“, so only you will do.

You’ll never be “just mom” in His eyes. Listen to Him.