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Teaching Gratefulness

  • November 21, 2020
  • By Donielle
Teaching Gratefulness

I wrote this gratefulness article for the November issue of MOMs on a Mission magazine.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever, to Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.  Psalm 136:1

The Big Kid

My oldest daughter was still in her first week with her own car.  I was anxiously watching to see if she was going to behave responsibly with her new freedom.  So when she came in the door and declared she was starving, plopped a receipt on the counter along with her purse and an icy Dunkin Donuts beverage, naturally I picked up the receipt and glanced at it.  What I read on the receipt raised my mom antennae.  “Why would you be starving if you just had a sandwich?”  I queried.  She looked genuinely confused.  “I didn’t have a sandwich.” Was she lying to me?  “Then why does this receipt, time stamped 15 minutes ago, indicate you bought a sandwich?”  Her cheeks turned pink and her eyes pleaded with me to drop it. 

It can’t be easy having a lawyer for a mom.  I stood, waiting for an explanation.  Reluctantly, she came out with the truth, “I bought the sandwich for a homeless person.”

That brought me back to the days when she was little and we helped serve meals to the homeless, created “Love Bags” full of necessities, and distributed them when we saw a need.  I was reminded once again that much of what they do in the teen years is fruit from what was practiced in the family during the younger years.  In this age of consumerism and entitlement, generous and grateful teens really stand out.

The Little Kid

The very next week I took my toddler shopping for the first time since COVID broke out.  Six months is a significant portion of her life and she had completely forgotten how to behave in a store.  She screamed for every shiny or sugary thing she saw.  How do we get from the demanding toddler to the generous teen? 

It would be so easy to indulge my children in all the shiny things of this world.  But it is so difficult to be grateful when we are deluged by possessions and luxuries.  I must practice self-control in buying for my kids, treating my kids, and holding them to their responsibilities.  Be careful of the expectations you create in your children.  They can quickly become entitlements. 

The Kid in Me

Our children’s contentment is often a reflection of our own.  Do we model gratefulness for them?   Christmas is coming!  It is always seems like a gauge of our overall family gratefulness health.   Is Christmas morning a toyland free for all?  Would our children be better served with a few meaningful gifts and a stronger focus on creating gifts and happiness for others?  The toy catalogs are so much fun, but I think they create more damage in the long run, setting up expectations and nourishing envy and discontentment.

If the greed monster gets out of hand, declare family prayer to consist only of thanking God one night.  Stopping to thank God for a beautiful sunset or an especially starry night focuses our children on gratefulness.  Remind each other of times God showed love and care.  If you’re having a hard time not giving your children everything you didn’t have, spend time watching kids play happily with sticks and dirt!  And remember how much fun they will have, after all the gifts are opened, with the empty boxes Christmas morning.

By Donielle, November 21, 2020
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