Teaching our children thankfulness

A couple weeks ago, after a difficult week, I wanted and needed to be around my family. I decided to spend the weekend at my parents. After dinner and watching a movie, I got a couple sheets and a blanket from my mom and went to make up a place to sleep on the couch.

I climbed under the covers, snuggling my little dog and started to pray. Being home, I felt a sense of calm and peace. The familiarity of family, from the smell of my mom’s hand soap, to the routine of the evening—there was something warm and comforting about home.  As I was about to drift off to sleep, the grandfather clock boomed, “Bong, Bong, Bong”…. repeatedly, eleven times in all. I couldn’t help but think of all the times I had counted those bongs in my life. As a teenager, I would lie in bed counting. Sometimes, the bong would be good news—more time to sleep. Sometimes, it would be met with a sigh and the knowledge that I had to get up soon. I hated that clock growing up. I despised the bonging, constantly reminding me of the time.

However, lying there on the couch that night, I couldn’t help but think of how quickly the time had passed. Each bong signaled the approach of another hour, and another day; and the loss of time—gone, not to be regained. It made me appreciate the moment. I was thankful that I had this time with my aging parents, that I still had my little dog next to my side, and my big dog at my feet. It made me appreciate that my children were all thriving, that I had a job I love, and friends who care about me.

It also made me think of all the pain others were going through and uncertainties and pain I had been dealing with. Life is like that. In the midst of pain or discouragement, there is always room for thankfulness. It might be hard, and it might be something small. However, God wants us to thank Him, even in our pain.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

As I lay there in the darkness, listening to the clock tick, I thought how many times, in my frustration and pain I haven’t appreciated the things I did have in my life. How many times, I hadn’t given thanks for those things.

It made me think of how giving thanks is God’s will for me and that often times, doing what God wants is contrary to how we feel.

In the midst of a bad day, do you teach your child to complain and act out of frustration? Or, do you teach them to give thanks?

Giving thanks does several things. First of all, it changes our perspective and our outlook. We become grateful instead of self-focused. Second, it gives us peace, because we are acknowledging God’s will and work in and for our lives.

Is there a time when you gave thanks in the midst of pain or suffering? Please feel free to share. I would love to hear from you.

Sherry Shepherd is an experienced, adaptable professional specialized in writing for faith-based organizations. She has worked as an editor and writer for newspaper, movie guides, publishing houses, churches and several non-profits. Her scope of work includes corporate and fundraising materials, advertising, web, brochures, booklets, books, blogs and biblical training materials. However, her heart is drawn to any type of creative writing, where she can motivate while conveying a biblical message and telling a story. Sherry is the mother of three grown children, who have been the source of some of her greatest joy, laughter and material!