“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you“. -1st Thessalonians 5:18
Thanksgiving is here. Each year this holiday’s purpose becomes more and more diluted. Christmas for starts before Thanksgiving and Black Friday now starts on Thursday. These things are not necessarily bad, though I personally refuse to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. For me, the importance of Thanksgiving is to pass on what it means to give thanks, which is something you can do no matter how your house is decorated. So if you are a parent please stop settling for a simple thank you and start teaching your kids what it means to live a life that gives thanks.
Stop settling for a simple thank you and start teaching your kids what it means to live a life that gives thanks.
Dr. Gary Chapman’s book “The 5 Love Languages” is a #1 New York Times bestseller that has at least 10 different versions that I am aware of. This book is so popular because it teaches you how to express your love in a way that someone else can relate. I think that when we teach kids about giving thanks we need to apply these same principles. The love languages according to Chapman are quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, and acts of service. All of these things can translate into how we live thankful lives, but none of what I say will matter unless you first live a thankful life.
A life that gives thanks is a life that…
- Affirms others– Okay premise of this article set aside. Sometimes a simple thank you is all that is needed. However, you should practice it saying it in a way that promotes appreciation over cultural tradition. I worked at Chick-fil-A for five years. During that time I learned to tell people that it was my pleasure to serve them. Now it is no secret that employees have to say it, but customers still loved to hear it. Why? Because it made them feel valued. So when you teach your kids to say thank you focus on the why and not the two words.
- Recognizes the importance of time– Time is something we will never have more of. Depending on the person sometimes just spending time with an individual is more thanks than any gift could ever do. If you don’t have time to meet with them try writing a handwritten note. It does not only affirm them with words, but it shows that you intentionally set aside time to thank them.
- Knows when a simple hug can mean the world– Physical touch is a tricky because everyone has different opinions about it. However, I think there is a huge value to knowing when to just give a hug or pat on the back. It should never be standard or a forced form of giving thanks, however, it should be taught.
- Shows thanks through giving the unexpected– Gifts can be the easiest or the hardest way to thank someone. Teaching kids the thought behind the gift is more important than the gift is key. I encourage you as a parent though to occasionally give your kids money to say thank you. This simple action can communicate your value of them and also allows them to show their appreciation of someone else.
- Serves others with the goal of making their life better. Acts of service, in my opinion, is the best way to show thanks towards someone. It shows them that you value them and their time. If you can find family projects to do to serve others. Help out the community, bake cookies for the elderly, or serve in church. Just remember that whatever you end up doing you are doing it as a way of giving thanks.
Most importantly though make sure you teach your kids how to thank God. Teach them to pray in a way that shows appreciation for all that God has done and is doing for them. At the end of the day, no one deserves more thanks than Him.