Thursday, November 22, 2012
Raising Thankful Little Monsters
We see it every day. Tweens walking around with cell phones, my three-year-old sitting in the grocery cart watching an episode of Scooby Doo on my iphone as we shop, kids everywhere pushing their plates of food away and demanding something else because this is not what they wanted. Aren't there still starving children in Africa? Actually, there are starving children within 10 miles of you. Shame on us for letting this behavior continue.
Because I've wrestled with my own little monster's ungratefulness for far too long, and because I know that in our day and age in the NOW generation, we are all in the same struggle together. How do we instill a sense of thankfulness in the lives of our children? How do we reverse the Entitlement Curse that is upon us? I've asked God for direction in this, and this is what He's told me:
READ. What kid doesn't like an exciting story? I've found that reading about the lives of other people is an easy way of letting my kids "see" into circumstances outside of the normal American culture. When they read about other people with far less than they have, it opens up conversations as to "why" they don't have as much. It can also help them to realize that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. Stories about missionaries or even some bible stories are very good for this.
TAKE A MISSION TRIP......Around the block. You don't have to travel far to find people in need. Although taking a family mission trip overseas is awesome, there are those in poverty so much closer to you. Deciding to serve as a family, even with toddlers at the City Rescue Mission or Jesus House or soup kitchen will put your little ones in contact with others that struggle with even getting a meal to eat everyday. This is a great way to start the conversations about how much we have and how we are called to serve those with even less.
POWER OF WORDS. I'm realizing lately the potency of our words. They can heal or destroy. Simply verbalizing the need to be grateful will help to start training their minds early. Remind them to say thank you for every little thing. At bedtime, develop a ritual before they sleep of recalling things throughout their day that they can thank God for. It may only be a "Thank God for my Grandma and my new potty chair", but at least they are getting into the habit of recognizing where even the littlest of blessings come from.
SING PRAISES EVERYDAY. One thing my kiddos love to do is dance around the kitchen in the morning shaking their little booties to some Lady Gaga or Michael Jackson. Recently though, in recognizing the power of memorization and words, I've started putting on praise and worship music to sing and dance to. They are not as crazy about it, but are already starting to memorize lines and ask questions about the songs. It's an amazing thing to explain to my toddlers that we can sing to Jesus about how much we love him and how much we are thankful for everything He's given to us.
MODEL THANKFULNESS. Let them hear how grateful you are for every single thing that you see as a "gift" in your life. Saying these grateful phases out loud like, "I'm so thankful that God gave me such a sweet little boy", "I'm so grateful for your Daddy because he's such a hard worker", or "I'm so thankful that I get to spend my day with you." demonstrates to your kiddo the kind of things that they should also be thankful for. As well, they should see us being good stewards of all of the things God has entrusted to us.
It may take a while to reverse the cycle of entitlement if we've enabled it for so long. It's our duty, however to raise little monsters who see the beauty in their lives and recognize who the giver of all good gifts is. Let's all make it a point to point to Jesus this "Thankful" season.