Thankfulness is not just something that we do. It is an attitude and comes from the heart. It is an atmosphere that we can establish in our home through our words and actions.
Teaching our kids to say a simple “thank you” is the first step in helping them to learn this important life posture. They should not assume they are owed generosity or that things are somehow “owed” to them, but rather that “all good and perfects gifts come from the Father.” When we live in that spirit – we receive gifts and opportunities with a thankful heart. (James 1:17)
More than Behavior
It is one thing to control a child’s behavior, ie. saying the words, “thank you.” It is quite another to control a child’s heart. In fact, it cannot be done. So how do we instill a truly thankful heart in our child?
This author is a parent of four, and cultivating thankfulness was sometimes a challenge. I noticed that my children’s level of thankfulness would sometimes waver at different stages of their development and growth. It kept me humble to realize that their growth is not unlike my own stages of growth in my Christian faith.
Lesson number one in cultivating thankfulness is to recognize and accept the fact that children are also growing in their own faith. It is not a parent’s job to make sure they have perfect hearts all the time. It was simply our job to set an example, be patient, forgiving, and gracious, just like the heavenly Father is with us. Of course, not forgetting to pray. After all – no one loves my children or knows them better than the receiver of our prayers.
Take a Thankfulness Pause
Take time to listen in your home. Is there complaining and whining? Are you complaining and whining? Are you remembering to say “thank you”?
Being a parent can sometimes be exhausting. And when we come to an understanding of our own behavior, and are not pleased, all we can do is ask God’s forgiveness, ask our children’s forgiveness, and LAUGH. We can find joy and humor in our humanness. Even Christ equates us with sheep – and we know how silly they can be. Just as you love your child and welcome that child with open, loving, and forgiving arms when they realize they have fallen short – so the Father does with us. He loves nothing more than when we come to Him with our weakness and allow Him to enable us to be all he calls us to be.
Having thankfulness in our home and establishing that in the hearts of our children is really nothing more than learning to live a life of thankfulness as parents, recognizing that we are on a journey of growth, and sharing that with our children. This kind of freedom is something for which we can be thankful.