The Cure for Entitlement: Gratitude
My son has been excitedly asking about our gratitude jar for the past month. Filling the jar with things we are thankful for is a tradition we do every November. Every day in November (ideally… we often have to catch up!), we write down things we are thankful for on slips of paper and add them to the jar. On Thanksgiving Day, we read all of our notes aloud. It is a humbling and gratifying experience to say the least. To hear aloud my family members say things that maybe I never think to be thankful for, this fills my heart! This is what Thanksgiving is all about!
Get Our Hearts Right
It surprises me that he asks and even remembers! Our gratitude jar simply sits on our kitchen table for one month out of the year. It precedes Christmas, which can become an extremely materialistic time of year if we’re not careful. I love that it makes an impact on him, and I hope we keep this tradition for many years to come. More than anything, in our entitled world, I want our kids to know the source of everything. I want them to know that it comes from God, and not from any work they can do themselves. Sure, hard work is often rewarded, but this gratitude is what separates the entitled from the humble and thankful.
Simple Jar or Bucket
Don’t fool yourself into thinking your container has to be Pinterest-worthy to use! A gratitude jar (or gratitude bucket!) can be as crafty as you want, or have time, to make it! It’s the practice, the habit, of daily writing down things we’re thankful for that we’re after. If you have time to make it super-cute, then by all means, do! This year, my usual glass apothecary jar was being used for something else. So, we are using a galvanized bucket with a ribbon tied at the top! Times are busy right now, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to miss this opportunity! Who knows how many more years our kids will want to do this?! I do hope it sticks with them. But regardless, it will be a fulfilling memory to store away for future thanksgivings.
Solutions to Raising Grateful Kids
Beyond this simple idea of a gratitude jar, here are other ways to raise grateful kids in this entitled world:
- Express thankfulness in prayers and blessings. Thankfulness is a key element of prayer, and in blessings at meals, we bless the food and thank God for providing it. Creating this habit reminds us daily to focus on God, and not on ourselves.
- Give gifts and serve in the community. When you give generously, you think of the receiver and it forces you to look beyond yourself. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our situation, that we fail to look outward. Giving good gifts to teachers and others in the community helps us to voice our appreciation of their work.
- Get into nature and experience the awe and beauty around us, given to us by God. How can you look at a sunrise and not be thankful?!
- Live intentionally. Instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, focus on what your purpose is and do that well!
- Keep Christmas about the cross, and not just wanting more “stuff.” We can challenge ourselves to give and not just want. The 3 Gift rule helps our family keep away from all of the “I wants.”
Expressing Gratitude Creates Long Term Impact
Ultimately as parents, when we “teach” our children, we’re really teaching ourselves, right? This reminder every November is good medicine for me AND it’s great for our kids. We’re raising up the next generation, and who wants a bunch of spoiled adults running around! Long term, I believe practicing gratitude creates healthier families. Think of how much better you sleep when you’re not overspent and overworked? When you’re able to focus on living intentionally, grateful for each day. There are even studies pointing to gratitude reducing anxiety and depression in adults. The results of one study are preliminary, but it suggests practicing gratitude actually rewires the brain! Knowing that the future ahead for our children is not going to be any easier, I want to give my kids all the tools to have long, productive and meaningful lives. Gratitude is a simple answer.
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