Our kids today have access to a lot of luxuries. We send them to schools equipped with textbooks and tablets. We fill their bedrooms with toys and crafts and novels designed to entertain and educate. We take them shopping when they outgrow their jeans and snow boots, we feed them three meals a day, we treat them to ice cream and movies and trips to the trampoline park.
Compared to many other populations in the world, our children are abundantly loved and provided for. But do they realize it?
The risk of giving our children everything they need and much of what they want is that they could come to view this provision as their right rather than a privilege. As parents we can and should help our kids develop a heart of gratitude for their blessings, material and otherwise. Here are some ways to do just that.
Give to others. Grateful people are generous people. When we appreciate all we have, we’re more likely to pay it forward as a way of thanking God for our blessings. Cultivate this type of grateful giving in your family by participating in a charity campaign that’s meaningful to you, such as Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots, World Vision and so on. Or give your time volunteering to help an elderly neighbor with yard work or watching a single mom’s children for an afternoon. Opportunities to give to others are bountiful not just this time of year but all year round.
Go without. Sometimes the best way to appreciate what we have is to experience life without it. Spend a weekend without phones, computers or television. Challenge the kids to give up their toys for a week. Purge your closets and give gently used clothes and other belongings to others in need. If you dare, choose one night a week to turn off the electricity and live by candlelight like in the “olden” days. By sacrificing the comforts we take for granted, we can develop a new appreciation for them—and for the God who gave them to us.
Say thank you. We teach our kids to say please, thank you, excuse me and you’re welcome. But gratitude goes far beyond good manners. A simple “thank you” can validate another person—especially the ones we love best. Why not say “thanks” to your husband for mowing the lawn? Thank your children for obeying your instructions to put on their shoes. Thank your family for playing a board game together on a Friday night. Tell them you value your time together. Speak gratitude to the people around you, and you will foster a heart of gratitude in their own lives as well.
Count your blessings. This month, in preparation for Thanksgiving, create a thankful tree and encourage the whole family to get involved. Create a tree trunk and branches from brown paper, then cut several leaf shapes out of colored paper. On each leaf, write something you’re thankful for. Tape the leaves to the tree and display your creation in a central area of the house where all family members can see it. Continue adding more leaves as you think of more and more blessings. Make this an annual celebration of thankfulness in your home!
From all of us at Faithgirlz, we wish you a Thanksgiving season filled with gratitude!