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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

Trying to Raise Grateful Kids When They Have so Much

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Jingle Bell Rock plays on the radio. Snow falls outside the window. Lights sparkle on the Christmas tree. And my incessant pleas echo throughout the house…

“Please take care of your toys! Do you know there are kids that would love to have just a few toys? And you guys have SO many!”

“We don’t throw away food around here. There are others that go hungry every day because they don’t have enough food to eat. Do you realize how lucky you are to have food any time you want?”

“Please don’t let the water just run down the drain! There are people all over the world that don’t have clean drinking water!”

I rant. I rave. I nag. Because I am keenly aware that my kids are beyond blessed. Heck, they are probably spoiled. And it drives me crazy, because they don’t realize how good they have it! They just don’t get it! O.k…so…they are only 6 and 3, and I am probably expecting too much out of them. But when they whine about being bored while tripping over the oodles of toys spread all over the floor, I seriously want to tear my hair out.

Growing up, my family wasn’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of extra either. Each Christmas, I anxiously waited for the JCPenney toy catalog to arrive in the mail, so I could circle all the things I was hoping for. Deep down, I knew that most of those coveted items were far more expensive than the presents I would actually be unwrapping on Christmas. But my parents did the best with what they had, and the gifts we did receive felt like treasures.

As a parent, I now find myself struggling to figure out the delicate balance of being in a position to provide more for my boys, but not wanting to overdo it. I want them to know about hard work and sacrifice. To not feel entitled, but rather, be appreciative of all the ways in which they have lived a blessed life. I want them to grow up to be givers, to be good stewards of their resources, and to recognize those less fortunate and step up to the plate!

As we move through this holiday season, I will be trying my best to teach their young hearts about giving, amidst all the receiving. Maybe it will be sorting through and donating some of their toys to a local charity. Or baking cookies for our neighbors. Or helping shop for a family that can’t afford gifts. Although they might not truly “get it” until they are much older, I hope that I can help plant the seeds that will grow into an understanding that the best gift of all is the one that you give to someone else.

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