Transform the heart

Editor’s note: This article was written by a northeast Indiana mother in response to Dr. John Rosemond’s article “Greed in a 12-Year-Old: Confront it” published in the 2013 January/February issue. To respect her daughter’s privacy, the mother requested that her name not be used with this article. Readers who wish to correspond with this mother should send an email to [email protected] and the message will be forwarded.It would be nice if standard baby vaccinations included a greed neutralizer given at a time when the worst our wee darlings crave is milk, snuggles and clean diapers.

Parents, let’s get real. Until we stop living in a world filled with things, greed will always romance the wandering eye of want. No child … or parent … is exempt.

Columnist Dr. John Rosemond’s suggestion to a grandparent’s concern for a 12-year-old’s greed was what he called “drastic.” His advice involved a stealth confiscation of the child’s excess belongings. After a stark pep talk, the young offender must exhibit a “cease and desist” of inappropriate expressions of greed before possessions are returned. Rosemond listed two outcomes: 1) six weeks to success; 2) a memorable experience.

I salute the “memorable” part. Rosemond kidnapped my brainchild. Been there. Done that. I am alive to tell about it. And my kids are better for it. It was one grand lesson to learn.

Record calories were burned not too long ago in a six-hour sprint consolidating items belonging to a 12 x 13 bedroom into six trash bags (later donated to several good causes). Only three mammoth blue totes made the cut for storage. Seven outfits and minimal hygiene items remained. The Grinch that Stole Christmas would have been proud.

You have heard, “If you do the same things you have always done, you will get the same results you always get.” Lectures. Reminders. Nagging. Threats. One step forward, two steps back. Sound familiar?

Shhhhhh. Silence. Sometimes less is more. Drastic and creative are two sides of the same coin. Greed is a monster adversary. Drastic is a good place to start.

Dad and I put this plan into motion to provide a preventative experience. Create a perspective incubator. Envy, failure to take responsibility, omitting expressions of gratitude and exhibiting a sense of entitlement are all minions of self-absorption — taking on new form in each developmental stage (including adulthood!). My kids have good hearts. Most kids do.

Parenting is about providing loving direction to draw out the best in them.

This experiment was a home run — success. But, it doesn’t mean the game is over. Winning is prefaced by practice and consistency. Strategy can be as simple as a keen eye to know when to execute the unexpected play at the unexpected time. This experiment was just that.

Where predictability is high; communication runs low. Keep your kids guessing. Stay a step ahead. Send a message that will last, inspire, empower and appeal to their sense of surprise. Trust me, they won’t forget it. In an age of heightened sensationalism and constant sensory overload, only what is memorable will be positively transformative, according to Jack Mezirow, an educational theorist.

At the end of the day, isn’t this our goal — transformation from the heart on out? It may take creative means to get there. But, our kids are worth it. We will win the game. My vote is to be go drastic with an eye on the prize. Someday, your kids will thank you for it. Mine already have.

I recommend parents read the book by Jen Hatmaker, “Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.”

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