November 27, 2009

Grateful Children

Written by Boyd Bailey

Grateful Children… “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

Gratitude is a wonderful gift we can give to our children and our children can give to us. It brings overwhelming joy to the heart of a parent when they witness an appreciative child. When they hear “thank you”, “you are welcome” and “how can I help”. It is music to the ears of mom and dad who long for their loved ones to grow into grateful adults.

Thankfulness is a vaccine against selfishness and discontentment. Children and teenagers who understand and apply appreciation are quick to serve others and not demand their needs or wants be met. They take to heart what God expects of His sons and daughters, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Gratitude leads to a Christ-like attitude.

So, how can you help your child learn to live a life of thanksgiving and gratitude? What does it take for a teenager to meet the needs of others before addressing their own needs? One thought is to begin early, teaching your child the value of hard work. Assign them chores and then pay them when the job is completed with excellence. Then train them to divide their money into the categories of save, give and spend. When they invest time and energy into a meaningful outcome they are much more appreciative of the money.

Perhaps you accompany them to feed the homeless, care for a family in financial distress or visit those confined to jail. You may decide on a family mission trip overseas. It may be a construction project, evangelism outreach or loving on orphans. Contentment and gratitude will erupt from the heart of your child when they engage people who smile in the face of ugly circumstances. They see first hand that joy comes from Jesus, not stuff.

Therefore, be intentional about modeling appreciation in front of your offspring. Be quick to thank God and others, while slow to complain. Grateful children are attractive and pleasant to be around. Their appreciative attitude will serve them well the rest of their lives.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

How can I model an attitude of gratitude in front of my children? What can we do as a family to learn appreciation and experience contentment?

Related Readings: Deuteronomy 4:9-10; Psalm 34:11; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4

Transformational Living
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