This is a tricky time of year for parents and grandparents. We have a holiday of Thanksgiving where our families will emphasize our thankfulness to God for all our blessings. That is immediately followed by Christmas where our families will begin shopping for what to give and get for each other. It can make intentional parenting very tough!
When I was in elementary school, I remember a year that my dad decided we would do away with the secular celebration of Christmas. I was devastated. All I heard was there would be no presents because there would be no tree! It turned out that he had other things in mind, and it was a great Christmas, but not before major panic on my part. His point taught me something that has stayed with me – it is through the lens of gratitude that we celebrate God’s gift and love for each other.
As a parent and grandparent, I find that teaching children to be grateful is not an easy task. Children are by nature “entitled” and their self-centered immaturity does not lend itself to being thankful. So, it is up to us to grow them into grateful individuals. God lets us know in many scriptures that thankfulness is His will, it brings peace, it overcomes anxiety, it leads to worship, and it brings joy.
During this season we have a natural opportunity to teach gratitude to our little ones. First and foremost, they must hear and see our own hearts of gratitude as we model its importance. Here are a few more things we might do to help them learn gratitude:
- Make a “Grateful Jar” to put in the names of the people, places, events, things etc. in their lives, and when they are needing a reminder, they pull one out and read it.
- Have a list for them entitled, “Today is a Great Day!” To help them fill it out you might have some sentences that begin with, “I felt joy today because . . .”, “The best part of my day today is . . .”, “I am making someone happy today by . . .”, or “God is helping me today . . .”
- Ask them to write, color, draw and mail a Thank You note that tells someone what they like about them, what they enjoyed doing with them, or how they feel when they are with them. Help them pick out a scripture to put on the note.
- Help them write, draw or color a note to themselves to express gratitude for being ME. This can include three things I like about myself or how God made me special.
There are other ways that are age-appropriate, but the important thing is that we are intentionally doing something. Grandparents, we have such great opportunities to share these moments with our grandchildren and it is a win-win for all. May we enjoy this season for what it can teach us to be – to the Glory of God.