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Why We Need to Teach Our Children About Gratitude

Gratitude is not natural; it must be nurtured.
By Barbara Rainey


One of the great privileges of my life has been visiting orphanages in places like Russia, China, and South Africa. Taking our children to see those little ones who had no parents, no room of their own, no toys or clothes of their own was life changing. Through these many visits, we learned that those who have little are often much more grateful than those of us who have much.

Gratitude is not natural. It is an attitude that must be taught and nurtured. And it is a task more difficult for parents in the West because of our abundance and prosperity. 

There is a story in the Bible that is very hard for us to understand. It is the story of the Israelites being punished for ingratitude by wandering in a desert for 40 years. As a parent, I hated it when my children complained about what they had to eat or what they weren't allowed to wear that everyone else could wear or what they couldn't have. After all, didn't they know we were trying to do our best in raising them?

We gave penalties for complaining and had them memorize Bible verses in hopes that they would get the point, but we never were as radical in our discipline as God was with His kids. I might have banished my children to their rooms for 30 minutes for complaining, but to be banished to a desert for 40 years seems a bit over the top!

Why did God make such a big deal about only a bad attitude? 

I think because He understood better than we can possibly imagine how an ungrateful heart is really a proud heart, a heart of rebellion to the parent who is providing with love. Because children are born selfish, it is the parent's job to train their hearts to be grateful. It's not an easy task, but it's a worthy one, for a child with a thankful heart is a delight to parents and to others. And I'm quite sure our Father in heaven will be smiling as well, on your child and on you, for a job well done.

 

Adapted by permission from Growing Together in Gratitude, by Barbara Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing, 2009.



Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. Her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, is the President of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem, Parenting Today’s Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother’s Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You’re About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara’s work at EverThineHome.com.




Find online at: 

   @BarbaraRainey     facebook.com/raineybarbara


 

 

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