Does it ever feel like you’re constantly telling your kids to stop complaining?
As a Christian parent, do you share Bible verses with them in the hopes that they will see how important it is to always be thankful and grateful and never grumble again….but it doesn’t seem to work? :)
I think sometimes we can get caught up in saying the same thing over and over and get frustrated when it seems that our parenting in this area isn’t making a difference.
Truly, though, we need to know that it is having an impact–more than we think! But sometimes we need some fresh ways to talk about being grateful with our kids that can help turn their thoughts away from themselves and call to mind their blessings.
This week, when your kids make a fuss (it’s likely to happen, as you know), try having one of these three simple conversations with them about thankfulness. I promise at least one of them can open their eyes to a new perspective and help us all to stop constant complaining in its tracks.
Three Conversations to Have with Your Kids About Thankfulness that are Actually Effective
When you child is having a moment of frustration or even anger because he or she doesn’t get what they want (or doesn’t get what another sibling has), share with them a time in your life when you struggled with gratitude.
My 10 year old brought home a paper yesterday describing my husband. He said in it, “My dad is not perfect, but he is great and he wants to help me!” And he’s absolutely right! :) It’s so important for our kids to see us be honest about our struggles.
The purpose of parenting our children in the “way they should go” is not to demonstrate that we somehow have it all figured out and then expect perfection from them. The point is to share with our kids how we worked through this particular weakness (not being thankful) and explain that we still sometimes have difficulty being grateful even now.
Doing this allows them to see that we are real and that the same God who helps us through our difficulties can help them too.
Talk to your kids about serving others when they’re feeling particularly selfish. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled this out of my hat! ;) While we don’t want to use this as a guilt trip, as in “be happy about eating brussel sprouts because lots of little kids have no food at all”, my husband and I really do believe that informing and educating our kids about the needs of people in our own community and around the world can make a positive impact on their lives and teach them how to have a servant’s heart.
Thankfulness comes from recognizing our blessings but also from seeing that we are incredibly privileged, whether we are monetarily rich or poor, whether we live in a big house or a small one, and whether or not we can afford exciting vacations to tropical destinations.
Rather than raising kids who feel entitled and sorry for themselves because they can’t have whatever they want, we as parents can help them turn their thoughts to needs that they can meet for other people and allow them to use their creativity and energy in a Christ-like way.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Need some ideas? I share several specific ways that you can inspire your kids to serve others in my post “4 Ways to Unspoil Your Kids at Christmas“.
Have a conversation about “gratefulness” Scriptures during times of peace and calm. Learning what the Bible says about who God is, what He has done for us and what our response can be to that kindness is a key tool of motivating thankfulness.
I have been guilty in the past of “yelling” Bible verses at my children: “Be KIND to one another!” I say emphatically with my voice raised. That isn’t really a great use of the principle of sharing Scripture, is it? Ha!
As Christian parents, we want to use Scripture as a teaching tool, not a scolding technique. And really what has worked for us is to talk about verses on thankfulness and gratitude during times when there is NOT conflict. It seems like our kids remember it better that way and are much more open to listening to what we are trying to tell them!
I have to remember to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in my children’s hearts. Maybe you need that reminder too! It can get frustrating when we feel like nothing is happening but then a moment comes when our children stop and recognize their own selfishness and seek to handle things in a better way.
I hope these conversation starters have been helpful to you and that at least one of them can prompt gratitude in both your children’s hearts and your own heart in this holiday season.
Looking for a resource to use to talk to your family about thankfulness from the perspective of God’s Word? You can download a FREE resource I created called 24 Days of Psalms of Thanks: Five Minute Devotions for Families in the Season of Thanksgiving.
Inside you’ll find one Scripture passage along with a question and prayer prompt for each day leading up to Thanksgiving (update: 2017 Thanksgiving falls on the 23rd but you can just double up one day!). There are also 6 printable Bible verse notecards with the download!
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