for everyone who wants their children to be more thankful

Being thankful or grateful may or may not be an acquired attribute. One just handed out by God as He creates little souls. I really am not sure. I know some people just seem to have a more grateful spirit than others, but it really has made me stop and think. Realizing, that instead, thankfulness or gratitude might be attributes that we as parents need to ‘train’ our children to have.

I told the story one day at my office of how my boys were not overjoyed that I was requiring them to write several thank you notes. To coaches. To teachers. To grandparents.  Anyone who might need a little recognition or encouragement.

In fact, not being overjoyed is an understatement. To be quite honest, they were mortified initially.

Of course, as this project began, I helped them a bunch. I would write out a few sentences of what they should say and they would copy me. This went on for several years with birthday thank you notes and the like.

But, after much complaining and whining over the ‘thank you note project’, something great happened. The boys’ 93-year-old great grandmother wrote one of them back. She sent the sweetest note thanking him for taking the time to write to her. And, in her fragile hand-writing, she told him how much she loved them and missed them. The smile on his face said it all. Thank goodness, I think he finally understood how much one little hand-written note could touch a life.

As the weeks and months passed ‘Project Gratitude’ continued.

Once again, one of these quickly written notes taught a valuable lesson. That one little note prompted an email thanking me for his note. Telling me how the timing was perfect and reminded them of how, yes, what we do really is noticed and appreciated.  Don’t you love it? I believe God took that little note and prompted its delivery on just the right day. He really does work that way.

A year later another note was mailed. And, another note received. This time from one of my son’s coaches. Someone who has touched his heart and his life in a way I can’t fully explain. This note came straight from my son’s heart. He thanked this coach for all he had taught him. He told him how grateful he was for his time and shared how much he would miss him next year as he moved on to a different grade-level. The note back was to the point, but brought tears. It simply said that he wasn’t sure how much he taught him, but he was sure he would miss him next year as well.  We kept it. In fact, I have kept them all.

How many times have we as parents complained about our children not being more grateful?

At my co-worker’s men’s devotional this very topic came up. And, as he shared my ‘forced family thank you note writing’ story with his group he realized I was actually doing far more than teaching my boys the correct way to write a thank you note.

Instead, in his opinion, I was training them to be more grateful. I wish this had been my true intent.

Instead it was fueled by worry that they might not really learn how to correctly write a note. With texting and email it seems to be a lost art. I thought about how much a hand-written note means to me. And, yes, I had hoped that by doing these, one day after an important interview, they might get the job because of their thank you note.

Never once had it crossed my mind as a way of training them to be more grateful.

All of this has really prompted a change in my perspective.

You see, I get caught up in the hustle and bustle and craziness of life. Some days are overwhelming. On those days as we run here and there from one activity to the other, how can I find the time to point out things to be grateful for?

Now, I realize, if I remain in such a hurry, focused only on the here and now craziness, my children may miss lots of important training sessions.

When I think of all the sports practices, study sessions, lessons, and the like that we ‘make’ ourselves find the time for, I am blown away. With all of these things, where is the time to do the really important things? It could be painful, but maybe we should calculate the number of hours that we spend on these earthly things and compare them to the amount of time we spend on eternal things.

 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. {1 Timothy 4:8}

But rather than beat ourselves up and live in ongoing guilt every day of what we aren’t doing well, why not choose just one thing to focus on each month?  That seems doable for the busiest of families.

Let’s do it! Let’s choose the rest of March and the month of April to focus on gratitude.

Maybe each month for the remainder of the year, we can come up with a good topic and a good training plan. One to help all of us who are super busy be more intentional with the Godly training of our children. And, for ourselves.

Our TRAINing Plan:

  • Thoughts: This would be a perfect way to continue to focus on how grateful we are for Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Think about it. We can help prolong the joy of Easter in our own homes!
  • Response: This could include writing thank you notes, not just for gifts, but rather for the sacrifices others have made for them. Teachers. Coaches. Even the cookie lady at the grocery store. Let’s encourage our kids to be more aware of those that touch their lives in some way – a gift, a kind word, a helpful deed. Anything that they notice and are grateful for!
  • Acts of Faith: Pray with them about those who really need encouraging. Ask God to provide the name. Don’t stress out over it. Just pick the number of notes that they can easily manage and go for it! I bet you all will be blessed by it.
  • Intentional Truth: Get in the Word and point them to verses on thankfulness and gratitude. Hopefully they will see how both of these impact the heart of our Heavenly Father. I often need reminding to thank God for how He works in my life. I wish I had learned this and practiced it more at an earlier age. By training this, we will be helping them to remember in their prayer life to thank our Ultimate Provider for daily blessings!
  • Necessary Reminders:
    • Set reminders on your phones to send at least one special thank you per week or per month. Whatever works best. There should be no worry or guilt in this, just blessings!
    • Build on Truth you are sharing every month. So much of God’s Word and the attributes it encourages in our character are just that – building blocks. Perhaps you could find one verse on thankfulness or thanksgiving that resonates with your family and commit to memorize it? Writing His Word on our hearts for future use is a powerful weapon!
    • Continue to pray with them and for them to have a grateful heart. Asking God to help us all see His hand and remind us to be more thankful on a daily basis.

The beautiful thing about this training is it will in turn lead us to become more grateful! By training our children to be more Godly, we in turn will become more Godly.

What could we possibly want more? 

May we all be motivated to honor Him in our homes by committing to be intentional as we train our children. And, yes, Lord, may you train us in the process.

To Him be all the glory forever.



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