Even if you have managed to banish the “gimmes” from your home, it doesn’t mean gratitude will automatically flood into your child. In some ways I think developing a constant “attitude of gratitude” is a lifelong process. Partially because it takes some life experiences to reinforce how much you really do have to be grateful for in your life. Or perhaps we just become too distracted with the annoyances of life to remember all of the things that are going “right”. Whatever the cause, parents can begin laying the groundwork for their children to become grateful.
Greedy children appear to concern a lot of people this time of year. It seems like everyone has a child with the “gimmes” especially during the holidays. In fact my daughter and I caught a segment where a “parenting expert” was counseling parents on how to “cure” their children. Her main advice was for parents to tell their children it was a recession and they couldn’t afford much.
My daughter snorted, “Then they’ll just wait until the economy is better and expect double presents!” She is right. There are a lot of ways to help your child take the focus off of what they can get, but giving them partial or incorrect information is not the best plan.
Our daughter is incredibly responsible with money and always has a very reasonable and short “wish list”. In fact, she rarely has more than two or three items on her entire Christmas list. As my daughter and I discussed what we had done to help her grow her attitudes towards material things, I realized there were some easy things anyone could do with their children.
My small group Bible study has been reading a book about Jewish customs during Jesus’ lifetime on earth. I found it interesting that during this time period the Jewish people used every opportunity to discuss God’s words. In fact it was not unusual for a small group of people to break away during a wedding or other celebration to talk about the Torah or other teachings. This week we even learned that one of the main focal points of meals was to use them as an opportunity to teach their children about God, the stories of the Bible and the lessons to be learned from them.
This summer our family took a vacation to territory new to us. One of the states we drove through was North Dakota. It was a typical state where farming is the primary industry. Mile after mile of fields were dotted occasionally with a house or very small village. There was one thing about almost all of those farms that just amazed me though. On almost every acre there sat a huge pile of rocks. Not tiny rocks mind you, but rocks that would take one or more very large, strong men to struggle to move. It became very obvious this rich farm land had once been incredibly rocky. The early settlers must have performed backbreaking labor for days just to ready the fields for plowing and planting. They must have had to work quickly and as a team as the growing season that far north is very short. (In the winter the cold is bitter and the fields covered in snow.)
I am sure many settlers buckled under the work, gave up and moved to easier places to farm. I imagine all of them were tempted to give up more than once. It appears though that the work of those who toughed it out and remained was worth it. Even today, generations later, the fields yield beautiful and abundant crops.
I have grown to love the Jewish holidays over the last few years. My husband and I were teaching a class of boys in Sunday School who were famous for being “a handful”. I was trying to find material that was challenging, but would keep them active and fed. Learning about the Jewish holidays turned out to be the perfect topic.
As I studied the holidays to prepare my lessons, I became enthralled. I had no idea the Jewish holidays were often looking for the Messiah as part of their celebration. Many of the holidays aligned with events in the New Testament in ways I found amazing. The more I studied, the more I appreciated how intricate and detailed God’s plan was from the very beginning.