Cultivating Gratitude in our Families

My kids had high expectations for the summer. In the days leading up to the end of school, they came up with many ways to make the most of their school break. We made a point to follow through on those ideas. It was fun at first, but I quickly realized we set the bar too high. Excitement turned to disappointment when things didn’t go as planned. If we had nothing planned on a particular day it felt like we were not using our time well.

But, there was no way I was going to let this season play out like summers past. This year was going to be different. We were going to cultivate a habit of gratefulness instead.

Each day I encouraged my kids to be on the lookout for something to be grateful for. The kids began to go about their day with a new set of eyes. Then, each night at dinner, we’d share what we’d discovered. Once the obvious things such as family, friends, and our home were mentioned, our conversations got interesting. The children tried to outdo the other with their creativity in gratitude.

You can find so many different things to be grateful for when you are on the lookout for them.

Some of my little ones’ comments seemed downright silly. They thanked God for:

– Pirates Booty because it’s their favorite snack.

– Tomatoes because they taste delicious.

– Eyeballs because they allow them to see.

The more we did this, the discontent dissolved. The little things that we previously took for granted were noticed and appreciated. Not all, but most of the complaints stopped.

Often we forget Jesus was also once a child. We know Him as a grown man throughout most of Scripture, but He was once (I bet) a fun loving little boy who was thankful for His favorite snack too.

The book Little Jesus, Little Me by Doris Rikkers lets your child know that Jesus was just like them. He had a mom and a dad, brothers and sisters, and yes, He even did chores. I wouldn’t be surprised if at meals His family, as traditional Jewish families did in that culture, talked about what they were grateful for as well. Reading this book with your little one will help them connect with Jesus at an early age and learn about God’s great love.

The Bible says we can learn from child-like faith. I think we can learn from child-like thankfulness too.

I saw gratitude from my children’s perspective, and it opened my eyes to the beauty in the mundane. I am so glad I joined my kids in their crazy, creative, yet simple gratitude. My home is a better place for it.

* * *

Your Turn

Do you take time for gratitude in your daily life? What are some ways you can share gratitude with your children? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Little Jesus, Little Me

Little Jesus, Little Me
Doris Wynbeek Rikkers
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Kimberly Amici

Kimberly is a writer and community builder whose desire is for hearts to be healed, minds to be renewed and women to be connected in fellowship just as God intended. With a background as an interior designer Kimberly has the ability to be both creative and practical; now a stay-at-home mom she still enjoys exercising her creative muscles by dabbling in all areas of design and planning events. Kimberly seeks to live a life that is spirit led with her husband Carl and their three young children in the NYC suburbs. She blogs at Living in the Sweet Spot (www.kimberlyamici.com) and is the co-founder of Circles of Faith.

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