Helping Our Children Grow in Gratefulness
We walked out of the ice cream store in tears. What was meant to be a fun summer treat had turned into a family meltdown. Just five minutes earlier, we had walked into the store all smiles and excitement. However, as I explained to my three children that they were only allowed a single scoop of ice cream (instead of a more expensive treat with lots of toppings mixed in), their faces fell and complaining commenced. As the grumbling grew, I realized it was time for a difficult lesson. “Everyone, back in the car. We’re not getting ice cream today.”
My children looked at me in shock and then in tears. I was crying too. Some lessons are as painful to teach as they are to learn. I wanted to have this fun treat with my children, but my bigger concern was their hearts. If they couldn’t be grateful for a scoop of ice cream because they saw something better, how would they learn thankfulness in a world that’s always enticing them to want more?
Raising grateful children is not an easy endeavor. We live in the midst of a fallen world, so all of life is a mixture of blessings and hardships. Even as adults, we’re tempted to focus on what’s lacking rather than rejoicing in what’s given. We tend to feel entitled to the good and shocked by the hard. However, with the Spirit’s help, we can train our minds to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5) and help our children learn thankfulness even when circumstances don’t live up to our expectations or hopes.