Grateful children are not born. They come here demanding us to meet their needs, as we should. As these children grow older, they can grow more demanding rather than less. How can we raise grateful children? Should our children learn to be grateful?
When we look around us these days and listen, we hear the words, thank you, far too seldom. We live in a world that is increasingly of the mind set that others owe me, that I am entitled, that I deserve everything. I believe that one of the greatest lessons we teach as parents is that of teaching gratitude. Psalm 107: 7 simply says, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.” Teach your child this scripture along with so many others you can choose from in the Bible. God commands that we give thanks. In order to learn to be grateful to Him, our children must be trained, yes, I said trained, to be grateful for all that is given to them. It would be desirable for our children to run to us expressing their gratitude and at times this can happen. Just as God loves it when we run to Him daily to thank Him for His abundant gifts and blessings. More often though, He hears us asking for more and more, just as our child may continue asking, not satisfied with what she already has been given.
When our children were small, we made a concentrated effort to train towards gratefulness. When given something, they would have to respond with a “thank you”. After they had eaten a meal around our table, they would have to say, “Thank you for the good meal. May I be excused?” (Sometime they would leave out good, but would still have to say thank you.) It even became a sing-song response. They were required to write thank you notes as soon as they could print. Were these thank yous coming from their hearts? Not most of the time, but it was building the habit in them until their hearts could know true gratitude.
Hopefully as they responded with gratitude to their parents and others, they would learn to respond the same way to their Father God one day. The value to not take gifts of any kind for granted, no matter how great or small and to see all of life as a gift from a good God is priceless.
Now I do see gratitude in the hearts of our grown children. They often say thank you and express appreciation. That does not just happen. For a number of years it was mostly something they had to say, but gradually it sinks in and they become grateful people and grateful people are more joyful. We would often say to them, “Gratitude affects the attitude!” And it does…..