Have you heard the following cries in your home as well?
“Dad, I have no WIFI!”
“Dad, I can’t find my phone!”
“What do you mean we can’t watch a movie?”
Oh, the humanity! Or maybe you’ve had this experience. It’s Christmas day and the packages are all opened and before you can even get the trash taken out, your kids come up and say “Can I have the receipt?” Or maybe even, “But what I really wanted was…”
I am like most parents. I walk the line of trying to provide the best for my kids without spoiling my kids. But sometimes I wonder how I am doing. How do we raise thankful kids in an entitled world?
We certainly haven’t figured this out… but let me tell you what we are trying:
You must say thank you.
After a meal, we thank the one who made it. If we go out to eat, we thank the one who paid for it. If we get a gift or a compliment or an invitation, we thank the one who gave it. We want our kids to remember that everything is a gift.
You must pay for what you get.
We have a jobs list that’s equated with tokens. For instance, 1 token for collecting the trash and taking it out. That token can be exchanged for money, or for tech time. Phone time, TV time and computer time is paid for. (With the exception of homework). Our hope is that this helps our kids value what they have and earn what they get. That being said, there are some jobs that our kids do “just because they live here.” Jobs associated with laundry, cleaning their rooms, making their beds. In fact, if these are not done, tokens can be removed.
Sometimes we pray without asking for anything.
When we pray before a meal or at night before bed, occasionally I say “When we pray this time, we can’t ask for anything. Just say thanks.” This also is a great time to pray for other people. I know some people who keep their Christmas cards they receive and then take one out a week during dinner and pray for that family, Lorrie started having us make a list of 100 things we are thankful for every Thanksgiving. This is great because it gets us past the usual things – mom, dad, dogs, etc.
We sponsor a child in Haiti and another in Uganda. Having our kids think about them, pray for them, and write letters to them helps remind them how other kids live. In fact, recently our kids have sponsored a child on their own from Bolivia. This can even lead to mission trips. We have taken our kids to inner city soup kitchens and house building projects in Mexico. These can be very impactful.
As good as these things are, there are still moments I look at my kids and see entitlement and ungratitude. And that’s probably because I am the same way. It is not easy, but it’s worth trying.
So, what are you trying?