With Thanksgiving right around the corner, my thoughts are turned to all the things I have to be thankful for. I have an overwhelming joy as I consider all of my blessings and the many gifts that I have received in my life. In a world of negativity, entitlement, and an overwhelming lack of gratitude it can be easy to slip into a place where we focus more on what we do NOT have rather than all that we DO have.
As I've pondered sharing my feelings on the subject I noticed that my children are extremely kind and thoughtful. They are quite thankful for their lives, and express gratitude to myself and each other on a daily basis. I began to wonder, "How did this occur? Is it my spectacular parenting, or just happenstance? What has happened in their lives to shape them into such gracious human beings?" I made a quick list of a few things their father and I may have done to cultivate this behavior. But I wasn't altogether sure that these things were truly the reason for their gratitude. So I went straight to the source. I told them that they have been excellent examples to me of gratitude and thanksgiving, offering a few examples. And then I proceeded to ask them two questions.
"What have I done to help teach you to be thankful?" and "What can parents do to teach their kids to be thankful?"
I hurriedly wrote out all the things they were telling me on the chalkboard, trying to keep up. Many of the things they said were on my list, which was comforting, and many were not, which was educational for me. For about an hour I just listened as my children taught me about all the ways that I had taught them. It was so touching and meaningful and I never want to forget it.
And so I will share with you our conversation and my children's ideas on how to inspire an "Attitude of Gratitude" in your home. Straight from the mouths of babes. (Literally....this is exactly what's on the chalkboard. I included some direct quotes that stood out to me.)
TEACHING KIDS ABOUT BEING GRATEFUL by #myfivekids ages 11, 10, 7, 5, & 3
1. Parents set an example by thanking their children. "You tell us Thank You all day long, Mom".
2. Parents do nice things for their kids continually so they have a chance to say Thank You. "When you serve us it gives us an opportunity to thank you for what you've done. Like cleaning our clothes and baking us cookies!"
3. Parents teach their kids to PRAY. "We pray to say thank you before we eat because we know that everything we have comes from God. When we pray we are showing that we recognize that nothing comes from us and that all blessings are from Heavenly Father."
At this point in our brainstorm, my 5 year old begins to compare our discussion to the scripture story about the 10 lepers. (She accidentally calls them leprechauns, then laughs and corrects herself). She recounts how Jesus came to the lepers and helped them by telling them to go to the priests. After they did as He told them to, they were healed. But only one returned to thank Jesus for this miraculous gift. Where were the other 9?.... How many times do we call on the Lord to help us in times of need, or comfort us in times of sadness? And once those blessings are received, how many times do we remember to return to the Lord in prayer and thank Him for His love for us?
4. Parents teach their kids about those less fortunate. "When we see how little some people have, like people who are homeless or hungry or sick, we realize how much we have, and that makes us feel really thankful and want to share what we have with others."
5. Parents can make a "Thankful Tree" every year. "It's fun to write down all the things we are thankful for on the leaves and make a tree! It helps us remember all the good things in our life. Even the little things like soap and clouds and electricity!"
6. Parents can keep a Gratitude Journal with their kids. "One year I couldn't write, so I just drew pictures of all my favorite things and Mom wrote down the words."
7. Having less gives us more. "It's easier to be happy for what you have if you don't worry so much about having EVERYTHING. People think they need things that really aren't important."
(I'm pretty sure I am crying at this point. Their words are so simple yet so wise).
My 10 year old ends our conversation by pointing out that Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us by suffering for the sins of the world, being killed, and then being resurrected. Because of this we can repent and be forgiven, and then live again after we die. "If we know this, then how can we not be thankful?" He then tells us that this is the greatest blessing of all.
I am incredibly thankful for my beautiful children. I am truly blessed to be able to learn from them. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! May we have an Attitude of Gratitude this season and always. And may our children follow our positive examples as we focus on the good, so that our homes will be filled with joy, love and continual thanksgiving. And now one last question for you.....
"If you woke up this morning with only the things that you thanked God for last night, what would you have?"