A few months ago my family was in the midst of several transitions. I began to notice a lot of grumbling, complaining, eye rolling, sighing, whining, etc. from my children. These less than appealing behaviors started my journey to increase my children’s gratitude and appreciation, thus decreasing their continuous moaning and groaning.
I came across a book titled Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. This book completely had me at the title. “Grateful’ and ‘entitled’ in the same sentence? These were the very two opposing forces raging a battle in my household.
As I read the intro and a few pages into the book, I knew it was going to be life changing. But then the message took a sharp left turn I didn’t see coming. The following statement really hit me…
“And as uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less-entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by living more grateful lives.”
Wow. All of a sudden my intent to ‘fix’ my children’s hearts, became more about me and my heart. But how was I going to get there?
First, I had to examine myself and how I parent. Do I want my children to be happy all the time? Do I want them to fit in and be accepted by everyone? Am I seeking to to make their lives easier for the sake of less complaining? Do I want to make my life easier by doing everything myself?
Then my parenting had to change to reflect the answers to these questions. Here are a few of the takeaways I implemented which altered my parenting style. And, perhaps, they will alter yours as well.
I’m a huge fan of natural consequences, but my type A personality sometimes doesn’t let the natural happen. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World states,
“Lack of planning on your part doesn’t make an emergency on my part.”
This phrase continues to be on repeat in my mind. Recently, I allowed the natural consequence of not bringing laundry down for washing to occur for my smaller children. I asked them to bring me their laundry to wash and they didn’t. Natural consequence: they wore dirty clothes to school.
I have allowed these types of natural consequences to happen more often. And while it takes every morsel of my being to let things go to allow the teaching to take place, it has generated more responsibility in my children and self-control in myself.
While I wholeheartedly agreed with the statement shared above from the book, my actions didn’t always reflect it. I had to examine if I was willing to allow my children to experience these natural consequences at the sake of not always getting things done my way or in my timing. I had to realize I was taking away the opportunity to teach my children because of my own selfish desires.
In this world reeking of entitlement and self-seeking attitudes, I desperately want my children to have humble hearts centered around others, not self-centered. Welch states,
“It’s really hard to teach our kids to be different from the world if we look just like it.”
Ouch, this is tough. We all have this desire to be liked, accepted, and included, but at what cost? I had to look at what I was communicating to my children through my behaviors.
This has required me to say ‘no’ to things such as popular music, movies/TV shows, cool phrases/jokes and clothing for my children AND myself – which is so hard when my children, much like myself, just want to be like everyone else. However, I have found standing firm in our beliefs despite the pull to be more like the world brings compassion, understanding and respect from our children in the end.
In her book, Welch states,
“When entitlement’s poison begins to infect our hearts, gratitude is the antidote.”
Once again, I had to examine my own heart (do you see the pattern here?). I realized I too behaved out of a sense of entitlement. My expectations, desires, words … EVERYTHING … was and is, stamped with entitlement.
Now whenever I see entitlement rising up in me or my children, we practice gratitude. Gratitude by looking at the needs of others instead of our own. By becoming others centered instead of self-centered. Maybe it’s done by writing a note of thanks or encouragement. It may be taking a special treat or meal to someone. Or it could be absolutely anything that brings joy to someone else and take the focus off ourselves.
Admittedly, I make mistakes ALL the time and live in my worldly tendencies way more than I’d like to. While this book hasn’t cured my home of the ‘whoa is me’ grumblings, it has started us down a journey towards more grateful hearts.
So during this season of Thanksgiving, examine yourselves and know that little eyes are watching, learning, and embracing our tendencies. By searching our own hearts, we can join together in “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World.”