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How to Become a Thankful Family

Does it often feel like Thanksgiving comes at a time filled with the most tension? That every emotion and circumstance feels less than warm and fuzzy and that thanks may be impossible to muster? Here's how to become a family rooted in gratitude this holiday, even if you feel anything but.

Do you ever feel like the time of year we are supposed to be most grateful, we struggle the most with discontentment, complaining, or ingratitude?

We are three months into the school year, have just experienced a time change, the weather here in the midwest is turning gray and cold, and we’re tired. We clearly see our struggles, notice our lack, and the grumbling in our hearts spills easily through our lips.

Of course, there isn’t one time of year in which we should be more grateful – God’s will for us is to always give thanks – but with Thanksgiving looming, November is our reset, a time to recalibrate our hearts and focus again on our many blessings. 

But how do we begin when our hearts are so muddied with ingratitude?

I’ve found that the way to become a thankful family begins with 4 steps ::

How to Become a Thankful Family

1. Confess your own ungratefulness

I find it so easy to recognize ungratefulness in my children and scold them for it, but seeing my own grumbling spirit can be a little more difficult. I forget that my attitude sets the tone in my home, and my complaining is contagious – even when my complaining is only because of everyone else’s complaining!

I don’t want to have a complaining spirit, and I definitely don’t want to teach my kids to be ungrateful. Teaching my children to have a thankful heart starts with me. I need to get my heart right before the Lord and guard against my propensity to complain so that I don’t let this sin rule over me.

Need help? Your prayer might sound something like this ::

Lord, I confess to you my ingratitude. I have compared my situation to others and thought that I came up short. But really, God, my complaining reveals my lack of trust in You. When I complain, I am allowing bitterness to take root in my heart, and that bitterness separates me from You and from the people I love. Please forgive me, Lord. Forgive me for forgetting about the abundant blessings You have poured out in my life. Forgive me for forgetting about Your faithfulness and Your goodness and Your sovereignty. Change my heart, God, that I might give thanks in all circumstances, experience Your joy, and model for my kids a life lived in praise to You.

2. Pray for the Spirit to work in you and in your family

We can brainstorm all kinds of ideas for developing thankfulness in our kids, and while some of those ideas are helpful, lasting change comes from the Spirit of God working in our hearts and in our children’s hearts.

As you yield your own heart to the Holy Spirit, pray that He will also be at work in your spouse and your children. Our job is not to convict others of sin; the job of convicting belongs to the Spirit.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict you and your children of ingratitude, make you all more aware of your propensity to complain, open your eyes to the blessings all around, and give each of you the strength to praise instead of pout.

Click here to find Scripture-based prayers you can pray for yourself and your family as you battle against thanklessness.

3. Memorize together

Since God’s Word is living and active, He often brings Truth to our hearts and minds in just the right moments. As parents, we are to lead our kids in memorizing God’s Word, and we need to be memorizing Scripture, too!

If you’re just starting out, memorize this verse together as a family ::

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

Click here for more verses to memorize.

4. Practice thanksgiving

Living a life of thankfulness isn’t something we can bootstrap – not if that thankfulness is to be genuine and lasting. We first must rely on God’s Spirit and His Word. As we depend on Him, we can then practice being thankful.

You can find lots of ideas for teaching kids about gratitude {I’ve pinned a bunch here.}, but as parents, one way we can set the example is by recognizing the good behavior of our children, the thankful hearts they demonstrate.

Ashamedly, I find it so easy to harp on my kids when they are ungrateful, rather than recognizing and appreciating when they voice their thanks or when they choose to be content whatever the circumstances. {Again revealing my own need for a heart change!}

As we yield our hearts to God, may we ask Him to open our eyes to see the good growth He is bringing in the hearts of our children, and may we celebrate that together.

With a grateful heart, 😉

Erika {erikadawson.com}


Question for You:

What’s the best way you’ve encouraged your family in thankfulness?

Resources for You:



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