SYLVIA McCRORY MAY 2020
Yes, it is possible to raise grateful children in today’s world. It will take some work, in the beginning, but promises to pay off in spades. Parents, grandparents, and others complain that children today are not grateful for what they have. The complaints refer to times when people had less and were grateful for what they had.
As the title suggests, there is also some bad about raising grateful kids. Unfortunately, this will be more difficult for parents, grandparents, and family than it will be for the children.
We live in an age of “convenience”, “super-size”, and “newer is better”. Our society constantly informs us, the “newer model” is better, has better features, and our lives will be fuller with it. We are bombarded with messages of “the fabulous life”, the “luxurious vacations”, and the “perfect body”. Most of us “buy into” these messages, purchasing the necessary product to gain the desired object. We are unable to settle for anything less than the object of our desires. When we become too consumed by our possessions, we are walking a fine line.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
Are we storing up treasures on earth, or in heaven? We must challenge ourselves to work for those treasures in heaven. The things of this life will soon become old, discarded, and worthless. A hard question for us to ask ourselves is “WHY?”. Why are these things so important to us? Why do we NEED the new item of our desires? Why is it so important to look like a model? Are the things we strive for that important?
Our children deserve nothing but the BEST –
Funny, the same kinds of things we try to teach our children to avoid, we do, such as giving in to peer pressure, when it comes to our children. It is hard for parents to avoid buying the best products for their children, when their friends are doing it. It is only natural for us to want the best for our children, because we love them so much. Again, I encourage you to ask, why is it so important my children have the latest computer? Why does my young child need a smartphone? Is my child really interested in the activities, she is enrolled in after school, or is it my desire for her?
Our children are constantly watching everything we do. They know what is important to their parents. What value system are we giving our children?
For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Proverbs 2:6-8 (NIV)
Set an Example
From a very young age, our children look up to us, they want our blessings, and our praise, for the things they have done. Children learn more by the things they do and their personal involvement. I encourage you to find a way, as a family, to serve others. This could be serving a meal at a homeless shelter, helping an elderly neighbor, helping a needy family, or starting a project of your own for the less fortunate. This will not only, warm your heart, but it will show your children how advantaged their life is, and how much they really have. I believe this is possibly the number one way to a grateful family. Be consistent and make it a regular event.
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)
Kristen Welch, describes serving others like this, in her book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World,
Here’s what my kids learned:
- You don’t think about yourself when you’re busy thinking about others.
- You are thankful for things you take for granted. Hello, a floor.
- You feel good about yourself.
- You want to keep doing it. Serving is contagious.
- You can have fun in the midst of hard work.
- You understand that whatever you do for others matters.
- Do not rob them of the opportunity to work.
Children need to learn to work for what they want. When everything is given to them, they are robbed of the experience of pride in setting a goal and the reward that comes from accomplishing it. This is a wonderful way for them to learn the value of money. Allow them to earn that new pair of jeans, or the new phone, or the new sneakers. When they have worked for the money, and bought those things, suddenly, they will take better care of them. They will start to consider buying less expensive items. In her book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, Kristen Welch says it this way, “It’s not unusual for little girls to have biweekly pedicures. And don’t even get me started on hair highlights, fake nails, and hundred-dollar jeans for teens. I’m not saying these things are wrong in themselves, but I do think we’re entering dangerous territory when we buy what we can’t afford or too much of what we can afford. This easy-finance mentality is passed along to our children.”
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