Our oldest grandson entered our home with 3-year-old exuberance. His eyes filled with wonder when he saw our tree overladen with gifts for the 16 of us who would be present. “Nana, is one of those gifts for me?”
I could have given him every one of them at that moment, but that would defeat the beautiful thing growing in his heart. Instead I responded, “Yes, dear, one of those is for you.”
The soil of his heart had not allowed the tall weeds of entitlement to grow rampant as we see in so much of society. Is there some in his little heart? Sure. There is in mine. But what will grow is what we feed and water and nurture. I started to think: “what do I want for my grandchildren?”. Well, part of what I wanted for them was what I wanted for their mothers as they were growing up . . . to learn to “give without of return.”
Lately I have been reading Kristen Welch’s book, Raising Kids in an Age of Entitlement. She took my little offering of growing “giving without thought of return” and put it in perspective in the larger context. One of her quotes was from David Stone: “Society screams ‘ME’ and JESUS scream ‘THEM’ . . . becoming others centered is not a matter of flipping a switch; it’s a lifestyle you cultivate.”
A lifestyle you cultivate. I am a gardener, I love it. I am no expert. I try to cultivate a beautiful garden of flowers (most years it works). I often do not get around to the vegetables (and every year I say, “Next year!”). But I do my best with the time and material I have.
I am a Mama and a Nana. Once again I say, I seek to do my best. Sometimes I am pleased. Sometimes I am disappointed. I am continually learning in “God’s parenting school.” But one thing that I feel very good about with our four daughters is their care for blessing others. They excel.
How did it start, what did we plant? Seeds of “Giving Without Thought of Return.” It was CHRISTmas and we began celebrating St. Nicholas Day – Burnett style. On December 5 the girls sat their shoes outside their bedroom door. In the morning, they found them filled: something to help in their holiday celebration, a bit of candy, an orange. But the real fun began that day. We chose 4-6 people we wanted to bless, thank, or who had a need. The joyful day was spent baking and making things. At dusk, we loaded up our car complete with our cards signed, “from the CHRISTmas angels.” As we approached each home, we took turns who got to . . . sneak up, ring the bell and run away!
Oh the joy! Oh the satisfaction! Is it any wonder that these four daughters now want their children to experience the same thing? This year we began our first grandkids St. Nicholas Day. It’s a keeper. A seed we will always seek to grow each December as we have seen the fruits spill over into the rest of the year. Into a lifetime of giving to others.
Another time, I took my oldest granddaughter with me to do a secret kindness for our church – we weeded the flower bed undetected. She got so much fun out of no one knowing we were doing it! With a sweet smile, she will still occasionally whisper to me, “Nana, remember what we did for your church?” Reading this book, makes me realize we will be doing this more. If there is a heritage I can give my grandkids this is one of the things I want them to know: Nana loves JESUS, me and giving to people.
Until I read Kristin’s book, I had not realized the ugly hold entitlement has in our culture. I could not have given a name to the many things I see that grieve me. I see now, the GRATEFULNESS that has always been so important to me, is a huge key in the fight against so much of what goes on around us. As Kristin says: “When entitlement begins to infect our hearts, gratitude is the answer.”
How do we grow gratefulness?
By choosing 1-3 things to do consistently as a family. Perhaps:
- On Valentine’s Day: make a “Gratitude Heart Tree.” Provide paper, glitter, felt pens, lace, etc. Decorate a heart for each person you are grateful for. Add his/her name to the heart and hang it on your “tree.”
- Choose an Act of Kindness to do once a month.
- Purchase Kristin’s Gratitude Bracelet and let it remind you each day ask your family the three questions.
- Send Thank You Notes. Not merely because it is the “right thing” to do but teaching that gratefulness is a gift we give back.
- Keep a Gratefulness Journal. Perhaps have a sharing time around the supper table.
- On family birthdays: bless the birthday person with everyone sharing what they are grateful for about them.
- Celebrate St. Nicholas Day each December.
NOTE: there was a team chosen to help launch Raising Kids in an Age of Entitlement. We are not receiving anything for promoting it (except the lovely bracelet). We are ALL SO SOLD on it after reading it. I would promote the book even if I was not on this team. IT’S THAT GOOD!
Inspiring an Attitude of Gratitude – by Alison
Rasisng Grateful Kids – by amanda
Why You Can’t Buy Gratitude At The Dollar Store – by Andrea
Missing – Gratefulness in our home – by Ange
Choosing Gratitude – by Angela
Gratefullness – by chaley
5 Steps to Gratitude-Fille Family – by Christa
Practicing Grateful Parenting – by Dana
Sing a Song – by Hannah
Cultivating gratitude in our family – by Jamie
Gratefulness In Our Home – by Jana
Gratefulness In Our Home – by Jana
Let It Begin With Me – by Jen
Choosing Gratefulness – by Jennifer
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World – The Book – by jeri
Eradicating Entitlement – What are you rooted in? – by Jessica
Gratefulness in our home – by Kate
The Problem With Entitlement is that it begins with us – by Katelyn
7 Unusual Ways I Know How to Be Grateful – by Kathryn
Raising Grateful Kids – by Keri
How My Children Remind Me to Pray with Gratitude – by Kishona
Grateful – by Kristy
Entitlement: The Ugly Truth of a Beautiful Lie – by Leigha
The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Raise Grateful Kids – by Lindsey
Dear Son: How Do I Teach You To Be Grateful Without Guilt? – by Marie Osborne
Gratitude, A Practical Definition – by Mia
Cultivating Gratitude in Our Home – by Nancy
Learning Gratitude through Chronic Illness – by Rachel
Being Grateful – by Rebecca
I’ve Found Something I Can’t Live Without – by Sarah
The Power of Naming our Gifts – by Sarah
Outfitted – by Sarah Jo
Growing Gratitude in our Family – by Sondra
Teaching Gratefulness – by Stephanie
How Grateful Looks From Here – by Alison
Fighting Entitlement in Children and All of us – by Leah
Entitlement Problem – by Karrie
Grateful Today – by Krystal