Thanksgiving 101

One of the central duties of parents is to teach their children to be grateful to God for all their many blessings. I remember my father teaching me that I could not even lift my little finger if it were not for God’s power and goodness. That little lesson had an impact, obviously, because I still remember him demonstrating this finger-lifting.

So when you are teaching the little ones to say thank you and please, it is a lesson about their Christian duties that reaches beyond simple cultural expressions of good manners. It it teaching them to have thankful impulses. It is teaching them to speak the language God wants to hear from all His people all the time.

Our fallen, sinful impulses direct us to take notice of what is missing, what is lacking, how things fall short of our desires. This is why kids whine and moan and are given to complaining. But God has given parents to children to bring them up to better things. So we have to accompany our commands to our children (say please when you ask for things) with biblical teaching (God wants us to be thankful for everything all the time).

Children need to be taught to count their blessings: fingers, toes, parents, siblings, food, sunshine, rain, Christmas, and all the rest. And, as always, it comes back to the parents modeling such gratitude themselves. It is rather counterproductive to snap at your children with, “Say thankyou!” as though you want to add, “you little beast!”

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7 thoughts on “Thanksgiving 101

  1. Great post, thank you! An ungrateful attitude seems to be one of the current traits of the church, how sad.

  2. Thank you! I have an 18 month old and I certainly don’t do enough to teach him to be thankful. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  3. Okay, I stole your dad’s little finger demonstration and lesson and started using it with the kids.

    A friend was watching the kids for me one night last week. When we returned, it was a blessing to hear our friend describe how our girls were praying and how the almost 5 year old was giving thanks to God for things like food, house, cars, and a host of every day things. It’s good as a parent to know that these things are sinking in with your children. Nonetheless this is something that needs continual training, which is why I stole your father’s example. The kids have found it fascinating and funny. They have been walking around wiggling their little pinkies up and down. 🙂

    I want to tie in the past two posts you’ve written with discontentment. As I look around, especially in my own heart. I find that the root of a lot of sins is discontentment. Now I’m just doing a little thinking exercise here but I would venture to say that discontentment comes from an ungrateful heart. Would you say that is true or would you say that discontentment and ungratefulness is the same? I would tend to think that having an ungrateful heart, or a heart that is unpracticed in giving thanks leads one into discontentment, which then sprouts a whole host of sins. I can keep delving into this but I’ll stop here for now.

  4. Luma,

    Yes, I would agree. I think gratitude is inseparable from contentment, because an ungrateful heart cannot be content; and a grateful heart finds little to complain about. Contentment keeps many sins at bay, while discontent weakens our defenses and opens the door to many sins we would not otherwise be vulnerable to.
    Gratitude keeps us looking up, counting our blessings, and puts our wants in perspective.

  5. Thank you, Nancy.

    Savannah came home tonight for Thanksgiving week. I am grateful for the week God has given us.

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