The past few months have truly shown us a loss of the simple things in our lives that we took for granted. Gathering with friends with no restrictions, going to the stores and church, living everyday life. This was just what we did and didn’t even consider it twice. Fast forward, and now the holidays are approaching, and we have a chance to share with our kids a lesson in being grateful that will not take much convincing.
Gratefulness vs. Thankfulness
I have my own definition of what it means to be grateful vs. thankful. Being grateful is not just being thankful; it goes beyond thankfulness on a deeper level. Thankful means you appreciate something that is done for you or that money can buy. Such as being thankful for my home, my car, the ability to purchase food at the store and toilet paper.
Being grateful is an appreciation for the things that money cannot buy. You are grateful for the essence of a person or a situation in your life. You are grateful for your faith, your spouse, your children, your friends, your neighbors, your pastor, your church, etc. Does that make sense? Don’t overthink this! If you want to make both words synonymous, that is fine, especially if you have little children.
I created a Character Planner Journal on the character quality of Gratefulness, and one of the activities is to begin a “Grateful Journal.” In this journal, you list the things you are personally grateful for, and I promise this will change your life! Each month I send out a new character trait to our subscribers.
Depending on what you bring with you into your marriage and family, you either tend to spoil your children or teach your children that hard work is essential to obtain things. Or, maybe you are somewhere in between. How do we raise grateful kids? How do we raise kids who genuinely appreciate family, friends, and the things that are not tangible in the sense of what money can buy?
Try this simple activity with your children, you can also do this yourself:
- Explain the difference between grateful (something you appreciate that money cannot buy) and thankful (something you appreciate that money can buy).
- Each person in the family takes a sheet of paper and can either draw their answers if they are little or write them down if they are older.
- Each person writes or draws what they are grateful/thankful for and then takes turns presenting this to the family for discussion.
There are rules. Each person will listen to the other with respect, no eye-rolling or laughing, etc.
Now discuss the items as a family. Once again:
- Each family member should listen.
- They should be encouraging.
- Each family member should gain insight into the others.
This is not the time for a lesson in wrong and right. This simple activity allows you a deeper insight into how each person is a unique part of the family and how we all bring some of the same and different things into each other’s lives.
Some kids are just more materialistic than others, and you will notice they are thankful for things over situations or people. It happens. Often we adults equate love with buying our children things. Now we can use this knowledge to build upon life lessons within our family. We can do this without making it overwhelming for our children and us, and the way to do this is within the course of life.
One way to encourage life lessons is in the day-to-day of our life. Be sure to share your personal experiences with your family. What you are personally grateful for, and this will rub off on your children. Building good character in our children begins with us.
Having our eyes opened in 2020, especially to all the simple pleasures in life we took for granted that were taken away, has given us new eyes! And, for that, let us be forever grateful.