The Best Way to Teach Our Kids About Gratitude
Kids these days. They have a tendency to act entitled, right? I need my iPod. I have to go on this expensive band trip. I’m starving—where’s my French toast?
As if a parent exists for no other reason than to serve a child’s every whim.
Well, it’s true we are called to serve our kids, but perhaps not in the way some might think. If we want our children to recognize their privileges as blessings and respond not with entitlement but rather with godly gratitude, there’s only one real way to make that happen.
We have to model it.
Are we doing that?
Last week, for example, my household was running low on groceries, so when dinner time came and I opened the fridge to figure out what I could concoct for the evening meal, what message came out of my mouth? “Ugh. We have NOTHING to eat.” Even though our odd refrigerator scraps may have qualified as a feast for a truly hungry family.
Or, last night I scrolled through Facebook and caught a glimpse of shiny happy pictures of a friend’s trip to Hawaii. And that old familiar toxin—envy—spread through my body and brain until I muttered, “Must be nice. Wonder how they afford that.” Yet I conveniently blocked the fact that we’d just been to Disney World last summer, plenty blessed with vacation luxuries ourselves.
And when the rain poured a few days ago, soaking my boots as I hurried my puppy along on his walk, did I thank God for my dry house, my working furnace, my dozens of cozy blankets stacked in baskets throughout the house? Eventually, yes—during bedtime prayers. But first my children witnessed my selfish and shallow distress over a pair of wet socks. “This rain!! It is ever going to end??”
Which message do you think they heard louder?
The truth is, the best way we parents can serve our kids is by living out our values in front of them day after day after day, teaching Christ not just with words but by real life example.
We have to walk the talk.
And I know I fall short. Do you?
The first step to teaching our kids gratitude is to recognize our own blessings. Open your eyes—they’re everywhere.
Then start counting them.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
This time of year I like to keep a gratitude journal, a running list of blessings big and small. I do it in preparation for Thanksgiving and the holiday season, but why not make it a habit all year round? Let’s name our blessings, own them, and thank God for them—in the moment. Rather than allowing annoyances to demonstrate ingratitude, let’s purposefully recall everything God has given us—not what’s missing—and show thankfulness through our attitude, our actions, and our words.
This mess of leaves that needs raking? Thank you, God, for the beauty of creation.
This enormous dinner we’re supposed to slave over for Thanksgiving? If it seems more a chore than a joy, then thank you, God, for the bounty of food you provide—and the people around this table, who are each a gift from you.
And the Christmas shopping, baking, wrapping tasks peeking just around the corner? Yes, the mall traffic is a headache and the kitchen is a mess and the bank account gets drained, and sometimes the happiest time of the year seems to become the crabbiest. But. Thank you, God, for your son Jesus—the true reason for celebrating, every day of the year.
Let’s set our hearts right this Thanksgiving season and beyond. Let’s be parents who make gratitude a lifestyle. Only then can our kids see and learn from us the kind of lessons that stick.
And I’m so grateful for that. Are you?
Comments are closed.