Friday, August 19, 2011

Indulgence and Love

God loves us and He occasionally indulges us (e.g., Deut. 14:26). Yet because He loves us, He doesn’t constantly indulge us; He also calls on us to deny ourselves. Self-denial is the essence of maturity. There’s a good reason why parents who over-indulge their children are said to “spoil” them. The over-indulged child becomes an “entitlement child.” Rather than being grateful for gracious gifts they have received, they come to see it as their “right,” and as your obligation. In the name of love and affection for the child, some parents end up doing actual harm. The parental impulse to curry the favor of the child is, in itself, a selfish impulse on the part of the parent. As C.S. Lewis observed: “A doting mother may be tempted by natural affection to ‘spoil’ her child; that is, to gratify her own affectionate impulses at the expense of the child’s real happiness later on.” Loving someone is doing for them what they need, not necessarily what they want.

When a child has been over-indulged, and has developed an entitlement mentality, rather than feeling affection for their benefactor, they come to expect the satisfaction of their every desire, and they expect it now. If, at some point, the parent (recognizing what they have created), decides to put a halt to the indulgence, then the response from the child will not be a humble recognition that heretofore they have been the recipients of gracious gifts, rather they will despise the parent for having “cut them off.” When an indulgence ceases to be specialwhen there is a lack of gratitude and thankfulness­then that good gift has begun to do real harm.

1 comment:

  1. I think certainly there are times when even conscientious parents fall into seasons of indulging their child/children for many different reasons, I know we have certainly had those seasons at various times in our family life. The key is when the Lord wakes us up to what we've fallen into we are to respond by halting what we are doing. Possibly even apologizing to our child/children for a lapse in real love and discipline on our part.