Yesterday I took a couple of the girls with me into the city. We got to tour the San Antonio Food Bank (AMAZING place!) and see how they operate. I’m telling you, it was impressive around every turn.
Afterwards, we had lunch with my sweet friend Stacy then ran errands for the rest of the afternoon. It was so nice to spend the day with two of my girls.
Last night around 10:00 the girls knocked on my door and said, “Good night! We just wanted to thank you so much for taking us with you today. We loved spending the day with you!” Oh it just melted my mamma’s heart!
My kids thank me for things all of the time. While we were out yesterday the girls overheard another young lady who was about their age whining to her mother because she wanted her mom to buy her something and the mom said no. Later, in the car, the girls were discussing it with each other. Patience talked about how they never think that their parents owe them anything and Faith said how thankful she was for what we do give them. It was a touching conversation for me to listen to.
I want to share with you some of the things we do as parents to encourage our children to be thankful and not have a spirit of entitlement.
1. Have them say thank you for everything.
Their whole lives I have had them say thank you to me, their Daddy, anyone that served them in any way. At the dinner table they thank the cook. If we get a drink at Sonic, they must thank me for the drink. If they help each other with a chore they have to say thank you. Making them say it as little ones helps it feel natural when they are older.
When they are little I have to remind them to say it. At the table I will say, “Levi, you need to tell Mommy (or whoever) thank you for the nice dinner before you eat,” and wait for him to say it (correcting his tone, volume or anything else that is necessary). When they are older they say it without prompting and it is so heartwarming to hear them thanking each other.
2. Let them hear you say thank you.
James and I thank each other constantly. I’ll hug and kiss him when he brings me something from the store or if he helps me with my chair. I thank the cashier at the grocery store, the waiter, the piano teacher, my friends. If you want your kids to be grateful, you have to model gratefulness.
3. Teach them that you don’t owe them everything they want.
We give so much to our children and work so hard to make sure they are comfortable, that if we aren’t careful we can lose the message that these are a gift, not an entitlement. We make sure that our children understand that we are only really responsible to be sure they are fed and clothed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean chicken nuggets & fries or new, fashionable clothes. Anything we have given our children beyond the basics is understood to be extra and a gift from us that we sacrificed to provide. Going without can sometime be the best lesson in gratitude.
4. Teach them to serve.
Serving others, sacrificing for someone else, working for no reward teaches children to appreciate the work someone else does for them. I remember the first time I hosted a Thanksgiving meal in my home. I had never realized how much WORK it had been for my mom to put all of that together! I have since had a triple amount of appreciation for those efforts.
5. Read Scripture together.
Nothing promotes a heart of gratefulness like remember what Christ did for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice and gratitude swells from my heart when I read the New Testament to my kids. I will tear up, stopping to tell them how humbled I am by what He did for me and for them.
My hope for you all is that you can have moments like the one I had last night when my girls came and thanked me for the nice day. It’s a long, hard road. But as they grow up and become grateful, loving young adults all of your tireless efforts will pay off!