Monday, April 15, 2013

Too Many Choices??

There I stood in the toy department of Target, with two different Iron Man action figures in my hands. One had the original suit; the other in the new silver suit. Which one had my 5-year-old begged me to get for his birthday just weeks ago??  How could I not remember? With a hundred different options of suits and guns available, how could I have not written this down?  I fell into the trap at that moment of feeling like a failure as a mother because I had to get it right. I couldn't screw up his birthday. (GASP!)

I don't have a degree in child psychology, but I have read almost every parenting book that exists on planet Earth. I know that choices are important to help our children form opinions and gain confidence. My five-year-old is not the "easiest" of my children. He is passionate and strong-willed to the degree that water is damp. He's particular and picky and thrives on "options" to make him feel in control of his little life. He can be a walking litmus test for patience, and I fail regularily.

He's inherited more than my blonde hair/blue eyes. I too feel the weight of the tyranny of choice.  How can a simple trip to the grocery store for sandwich spread turn out okay when you are faced with fifty-seven grape jelly options?!? In what world is that necessary??  What if I get the reduced-sugar grape jelly and it tastes horrible? What if I'm limited to only fourteen options this trip?? What if my child chooses the wrong shoes today. . .the rebellious child on the playground to befriend. . .the wrong future spouse???

This may seem like a drastic jump in situations, but it may not be. I've been convicted and overwhelmed over the nature of my humanity and the fickleness that is bred by entitlement. This is what we, as parents are passing on to our kids as well.

It dates back to the very first household that God created, when God gave Adam and Eve everything that was good, but they didn't think it was good enough for them. Even the first man and woman felt entitled to choose what they wanted even when He had told them that choice was forbidden. They didn't need "one more option". They weren't entitled to everything. He had given them enough. He had given them Himself.

I'll be the first to admit that standing in the middle of Target clutching two Iron Man figurines and screaming, "He only needs Jesus!!" might not be the best response to feeling overwhelmed by choice.

The ugly truth is that the color of the suit DID matter to my son.  At least I thought it did. In reality, he probably didn't remember which one he had wanted. The whole situation made me ask myself if I was fostering a sense of entitlement in my children, not necessarily by giving them too much, but too many choices.

Are they learning from us that Jesus is enough or are we teaching them to have a drive inside them that longs for the tree that we weren't supposed to have? When we are tempted to feel overwhelmed by first-world problems and choices, as parents we must come back to what Jesus has provided us already. We don't need a buffet. We don't need an Iron Man in every available suit color. We need "just enough" and we need to teach our children the same.

Does this resonate with you too?? Are we setting the stage for our children's desire for "more options" by giving them too many choices in life?


  1. A very interesting question. Are we also doing that to ourselves? Are we giving ourselves choice after choice and stressing over all that we are faced with.
    Choices are important and it is important that we teach our children the right measuring stick to use when faced with choice after choice. Sometimes it does not matter what we choose about color but when we think we have a choice in an ethical issue we set ourselves up to fail.

  2. Being childless, I'm not sure if we give our children too many options (I'm sure we do!) But being an adult, I know I feel bombarded with too many options on a daily basis. Like Mark said above, I think a lot of times it's not the choice that really matters - it's how we perceive the choice. And probably the outcome, too.

    I just found your blog, love it! I hope you don't mind that I borrow your image you've used on this post for my own use. If you do, please let me know and I'll be sure to take it down.