Our kids will only be as thankful as they’ve seen us be.
Let that thought soak in. So much of the time it is easy for us to gripe about the sense of entitlement that the next generation is exhibiting and wonder what we can do to change their perspective on life. We gasp at their constant desire for more stuff, more convenience, more things handed to them on a silver platter and can almost become embittered by their attitudes when we are far more responsible for this tragedy than we’d like to take credit for. Who did they learn this behavior from? We’d like to think that it’s all the stuff they picked up on television, from their ungrateful little friends at school, or from technology. More often than not, we can find the answer to the question when we look in the mirror.
“I’m a thankful person!” you are saying to yourself. That very well may be true. But it may not be the truth that you are displaying to your children. As a mom of two young boys, it’s hard to look at the “glass half-full” every moment of every day. So much of the time, I find myself counting down the hours until bedtime, so that I can finally bask in a few moments of peace a quiet. I cherish the fact that I get to stay at home with them every day, and I hope that they understand that. I hope that they feel how much of my life is positively impacted just by merely being able to share it with them. The truth is, however, there are days and weeks that go by sometimes when my behavior and attitude reflects more annoyance and inconvenience than gratitude. How easy it is to lose our perspective.
Little ones especially have such a hard time concentrating their little minds OUT instead of INWARD. They are selfish by nature, and must learn to find patience and self-control and a sense of gratitude for the little things. They learn this best by watching us.
Something that my husband started doing with our boys has begun the process of them seeing their cups “half-full” on a regular basis. Every night when we go to tuck them in and say prayers, we ask them what their favorite part of the day was. We wait while they think about this and come up with answers like, “I liked eating ice cream cones,” or “My favorite part was reading a book with daddy”. At first, this exercise was one of struggle. They were a little ticked that they had to go to bed and were looking at their cups as “half-empty”, so it was difficult to change directions at that time and force them to think about the positive instead of the negative. Some nights go better than others, but we are hopefully instilling in them even at age 5 and 3 that we MUST look for things to be thankful for.
I believe the area of thankfulness will continuously be a struggle for the younger generation to grasp. It’s especially hard when they see their parents get aggravated over the silliest things, get annoyed when things do not go exactly as planned, and when our demeanor’s are laden with negativity and frustration. Gaining a new perspective of our own is the first step in the process of finding victory in the area of thankfulness in our families. If we can change our hearts, our kids, who so frequently wish to be just like us, will effortlessly follow suit. Today, let’s focus on the one’s in the mirror. Let us reflect a heart that is overflowing with thankfulness to God for our kids and every silly inconvenience that parenthood brings with it. Let the state of our grateful hearts be contagious.
Do you find yourself looking at the glass as “half-empty or half-full”? Are you a pessimist or an optimist? How can your sense of gratitude be affected by this perspective?