On Raising Grateful Kids
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My oldest daughter just turned 9 this week.
Having your child turn 9 does all sorts of things to you, because, first of all it means you are exactly one year away from being REALLY old (because people who have ten year olds are old), and also because it means she is not just a little pre-teen but fully in the midst of pre-teen. She is sweet one minute and sassy the next, and who knew girls were like this? Because certainly none of you women out there were like that at the same age. Because I know I wasn’t. (Well at least I don’t think so.)
And then there’s something about birthdays.
The day before her birthday, this daughter says, “I want a purse for my birthday.”
P.S. We already bought your present last week, and I’m not going through an exchange with Amazon by tomorrow. Use your allowance.
And then the 6 year old chimes in. For her birthday, she wants…
Excuse me, miss, but your birthday is five months away, so I have some time to breathe between now and then. And BTW you will change your mind a thousand times before then, so I’m buying your present a week before your birthday also. They’re both always asking for elaborate parties too but luckily last time I was looking for places to have a birthday party in kansas city, I found a great affordable and fun venue that they love, and which we return to every year.
I like to think my children are on the better end of the spectrum (or at least in the middle) when it comes to the “gimmes.” Around Christmas, they are certainly intolerable, but I sure do think I could have it a lot worse.
But that’s because we have been talking to these children from a young age, trying to emphasize the importance of what we have, why you don’t need every toy in the toy aisle at Target, and why some things just aren’t good for you to have right now but maybe later. All kids have this problem at some time or another; even mine! But so do I. Sometimes I get all caught up in “Well she has…” and “I don’t have…” and “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” That’s not to say that I don’t spoil my kids. I do, but I know they’re grateful for everything that I buy for them. Like the other day, my youngest daughter decided that she wants a ride on car for Christmas so I spent hours reading these reviews and buying guide to try and find one that she’d like. I don’t have a problem buying toys for my kids as long as they use them. There’s nothing worse than spending hundreds of dollars on a new toy to see it dumped at the bottom of their toy box the next day. I just want them to be grateful for what they have!
But then books like Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch fall into my hands, and I remember what I’ve told my kids and try to practice it myself.
One thing I love about Kristen’s book is that it’s not all “How to Make Sure Your Kids Never Ask for Anything,” but instead it talks about:
- Distinguishing between wants and needs
- What it means to love your children
- The importance of discussing your decisions with your child
- How even parents fail (shocker, I know)
- How culture affects our parenting decisions as well as our kids’ wants and needs
- How gratitude is a choice (and it really is)
- How teaching your kids isn’t always easy
Practical solutions for parenting kids at any age is included at the end of each chapter so you can apply some of these principals in your own life.
I can’t lie and say I knew everything about raising my kids to be grateful before I read Kristen’s book. I did learn some things. But the majority of what I read in Raising Grateful Kids just reinforced what has taken me years of trying to figure out on my own, and that’s really raising grateful kids. I’m not saying we’re perfect. I’m not saying we have it all together by any means.
But it took me years to get here, and now Kristen has put all of this information into one place.
It’s tough to raise grateful kids in an entitled world. And sometimes I get really fed up with my kids’ wish list.
But other times, I will listen to them pray, and they are thankful for the important things their family, their friends, their pets…
Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, following principles like those laid out in Kristen’s book leads to more grateful, loving, positive children who can confidently enter the world when they are grown and accomplish great things. Because at the source of raising grateful kids in an entitled world is first loving God and then loving others. And when we love in that order, we are better equipped to raise happy, healthy children.
Then you can be sure that, whether they are 9 and sassy or 30 and running to you for advice, you are doing a great job.