Confession: I’m terrible at saying “thank you” when it is appropriate.
However, I am grateful for a lot of things even if I forget to thank someone for whatever they did. It’s no excuse, I know, but it’s important for me to confess this. I’m even worse at saying “I’m sorry”, so let me cover both of those now: “I’m sorry for not saying thank you when I should.” Now let’s move on.
It might seem a bit weird for a 20-something single guy with no kids to be writing about creating a grateful attitude in your children. However, I have two great parents, younger cousins (Two of them start high school next year! Yikes!), a niece who’s a toddler, and I used to help my mom with the two-year-old Sunday School class at church when I was in high school. So I’ve been around kids. And I’m someone’s child.
I’m an only child (The niece? I have an older half brother who never lived with us.) from an average family with an average income and grew up in an average house with average cars. I got a lot of the things I asked for as a kid, but I didn’t grow up with an abundance of toys at Christmas or on my birthday. And I’m sure I didn’t get a lot of the stuff I did ask for.
I don’t know if I was all that grateful at the time as a kid, but as I got older I appreciated the hard work my parents did five days a week to keep a roof over our head, food in the kitchen, and all that goes along with that.
My parents funded several trips to summer camps, lots of mission trips, and a variety of other trips as I was growing up and even into college. The summer camps were fun, but I’m most grateful that they never said “no” when I asked to go on a mission trip with my church youth group (or the youth group my dad worked with at another church). I learned a lot of practical skills on those trips since most of them were construction projections and I got to help of lot of people. Seeing people worse off than me also made me more grateful for what I did have; and what I do have.
Thanks to my dad, especially, I learned the importance of hard work and the value of a dollar. I helped him mow yards on his real estate listing for several years. Money is worth a lot more when you spend an entire Saturday out in the sun pushing a mower around several yards every Saturday in a row to earn it.
My mom constantly reminded me that I needed to be tithing to our church because the money wasn’t mine to start with. I sucked at tithing up until this year and if there was a way for me to figure out how much I didn’t tithe over the years I’d probably be stunned by the number. Every few Sundays I would see my parents write out a tithe check to our church and drop it in the offering plate. I understood the concept, but the importance of this never really resonated with me until recently. But I can definitely thank my mom for constantly reminding me about this.
I have no doubt my parents raised me on these two Biblical principles.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV84)
I know my parents raised me by this value because we have a wooden train decoration with this verse written on it in our house that has been there for as long as I can remember.
My parents were also firm and fair in their expectations and punishments. I screwed up several times and many other parents probably would have done a lot of yelling. Instead my parents used those times to teach me what I did wrong and why it was wrong, and to explain why there were consequences.
“Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord”Ephesians 6:5 (HCSB)
That’s my take on raising a grateful child. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I hope to one day be as good a parent as you to have been to me.