Have you ever gritted your teeth over an annoying behavior in your child–only to connect the dots back to its origin in your own behavior? The power of example is monumental in parenting, and nowhere is it more needful than in the area of gratitude.
I’m welcoming the month of November with a guide to five resources that will help you to be mindful of gratitude yourself as you train your children (and your own prone-to-wander heart) to make thanksgiving a year-round offering to God.
Be mindful of gratitude yourself as you train your children (and your own prone-to-wander heart) to make thanksgiving a year-round offering to God.Tweet
Let’s get started:
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
In the Great Balancing Act called parenting, we are at war against three words: “Is that all?” In ourselves, in our kids, Western culture exacerbates our entrenched selfishness in everything from “ice cream servings to allowances.” “Enough” is never enough.
Kristen Welch is writing from the trenches of raising three kids, and so the tone of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World is NOT “we have arrived and here’s how your kids can ooze gratitude like our perfect children do.” Kristen comes alongside her readers with humble offerings: “Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s what others have tried, and that’s great, too.” Her perspective is derived from the knowledge that parents who are willing to fight against the prevailing culture and for an attitude of thankfulness in their children will feel as if they are swimming upstream.
Long Days of Small Things
Catherine McNiel wrote Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline out of the experience of her own turbulence in the line of mothering duty. Well aware of the creaturely weakness that plagues her, she offers life-giving practices and perspective-altering insights. She invites busy mums to attend to the work God wants to do in their souls and to join C.S. Lewis in realizing that “the world is crowded with Him. … The real labor is to remember, to attend” (xiii).
Sometimes, we need the reminder that motherhood is a window to a deeper understanding of theological truth about the Incarnation; that pregnancy is a miracle in which “the unbelievable becomes tangible” in our own flesh and bone, and that we make it through the years of mothering “one hour, one day at a time” (149). In a life that seems to yield not one minute for observing spiritual disciplines, McNiel urges moms to sink deeply into the practice of motherhood with its slow minutes and fast years, and the multitude of mindlessly repetitive and yet very necessary tasks. Offered up to God with a heart of gratitude, the daily duties become a very spiritual practice, crashing through the artificial wall between the secular and the sacred.
The Shaping of a Christian Family
If you’ve ever wondered what put iron into the soul of Elisabeth Elliot, you’ll discover in The Shaping of a Christian Family that Elisabeth was raised by parents who were at least as focused and self-disciplined as she was. Based on entries from her mother’s journal, this memoir of Elisabeth’s growing up years remembers a solid foundation and sets a pattern that may seem out of reach in 2021, but a careful reading will reveal principles that have not changed with time. Chapter 12 on “Frugality, Hospitality, and Heroes” is particularly relevant to the topic of gratitude in the home.
First Ask Why
The question author Shelly Hunt Wildman suggests is simple and straightforward: First Ask Why. This question invites readers into an intentional practice that envisions the kind of family we want. She follows up on the question with strategies for doing, by God’s grace, what needs to be done to make our parenting vision become a reality.
When we begin asking why, we open ourselves up to a consideration of the purpose behind all the things we do as believing mums and dads. If leaving a Christ-following legacy is at the top of your parental do-list, your family becomes a unique training ground where you and your children together lean into the demands that are placed upon our lives by the gospel, all the while trusting in the promises for their glorious fulfillment.
Raising Uncommon Kids
Raising Uncommon Kids offers the astounding (and wise) suggestion that parents pay a little less attention to the do’s and don’ts surrounding their children’s behavior and a little more time evaluating their own behavior. There is no quick fix for raising children. There are, however, character qualities and behaviors (such as gratitude!) that we desperately want to see in our kids’ lives. Author Sami Cone suggests that the first and best place to look for those characteristics is … in our own lives!
Beginning with the principles found in Colossians 3:12-17, Cone looks at the life of a family through three distinct lenses: (1) Your Heart at Home; (2) Your Attitude Toward Others; and (3) Your Influence in the World. Kids who are grounded in gratitude, peace, humility and compassion will become world changers wherever they go.
These five resources will get you off to a good start so that you arrive at Thanksgiving Day later this month having already practiced a gritty gratitude that is both contagious and long-lasting. In the perpetual challenge of raising another generation of believers, we need fuel that will enable us to fight against the prevailing culture and for hope and joy because so often we are swimming upstream. When the sun sets on another day in the life of your growing family, whatever resources you choose to consult along the way, first consider Jesus, for he alone can enable us to make our parenting vision a reality.
Holding you in the Light,
Five resources to help you practice a gritty and contagious gratitude as you raise another generation of believers!Tweet
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