We live in a very "me" centered society. The focus on "what I want" or "I need" is always the center of attention. Comparing ourselves to others who seem perfect can be easy and lead to feeling inadequate. It's even easier to forget to be thankful for what we have. In doing this as adults, we make an impression on our children, too. Mistakenly, they learn to strive to get more things rather than being content with what they have. It's very easy to lose sight of an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving. As grandparents, you have a golden opportunity to influence your grandkids. Here are some ways to sow seeds of thanksgiving in them and teach them the importance of being thankful for what they have.
1. Being Thankful for Your Spouse or Significant Other
Talk to your grandkids about your spouse or significant other and how thankful you are for them. Things like how they help you, how kind they are, how loving they are, and how much they love God and treat you in a godly way.
How to put into practice: While baking with your grandchildren when it's just you and them, talk to them about what a loving relationship looks like and how grateful you are for your spouse.
2. Being Thankful for Family
It's easy to let appreciation slip by when you are always around family. We just assume they will always be there. Let your grandkids know how much you love and appreciate them and their families. What a big help they are to you, how you know you can count on them, how you are thankful that they live nearby.
How to put into practice: Sit down and write notes of thanks to mail to your family members and invite them to do the same. Everyone will love getting a heartfelt note in their mailbox instead of a text or an email.
3. Gratitude for Your Pets
If you have animals, share how they enrich your life by being loving companions. Invite them to go on a walk with you and your dog or to sit down and brush your cat. You can also explain why your animals are grateful to have you, too.
How to put into practice: Take your dog on a walk or to the dog park or to the animal shelter to show them that not all animals have good, loving homes and that they should be grateful that their pets do.
4. Gratitude for Your Friends
Once again, it's easy to overlook our friends, so share with your grandchildren how thankful you are for yours and why. For example, Sherri always brings you baked goods, Carol is a brilliant listener, and Mary is always up for a shopping trip or adventure.
How to put into practice: Buy some note cards for you and your grandchildren at the dollar store and sit down and write notes of thanks to your friends. Then, deliver them to them personally, if possible.
5. Gratitude for Your Pastor and Church Family
Talk about how thankful you are for your pastor and church family. How they are always there for you to pray with you and for you, join you in Bible study, or just have a pleasant conversation with?
How to put into practice: Spend an afternoon baking with your grandkids, and when you are done, box up some goodies and deliver them to your pastor and other church members you are close to.
6. Gratitude for What You Have
In a world of instant gratitude and always wanting the next big thing, teach your grandchildren to be grateful for what they have. Explain to them you don't need the latest and greatest thing; your five-year-old cell phone, seven-year-old computer, and twenty-year-old car work just fine.
How to put into practice: Clean your closets and donate to a local homeless shelter. This way, your grandchildren can see other people are grateful for your "older" things because they have little of anything.
7. Gratitude for Your Life
Let them know how thankful you are for your life, regardless if you are healthy, sick, handicapped, or otherwise. Explain to them that life is short and that every day you get up and take another breath is a gift.
How to put it into practice: Thank the Lord right then for your health.
8. Gratitude for Jesus
Either introduce Jesus or reiterate to your grandchildren how thankful you are for him in your life and for saving you from your sins. Share your mistakes and trials and all the things that Jesus has brought you through and how thankful you are to him for walking with you every step of the way.
Tell them how thankful you are that you can talk to him any time, day or night, and he will listen. Let them know they can do the same and to look for ways he has helped them, like calming their nerves before a big test, leading them to the right decision, or blessing them with extra birthday money.
How to put into practice: Thank Jesus for who he is and all he's done right there, out loud, with your children.
9. Being Grateful for Who You Are as a Person
In a world of constant comparison and upmanship, let your grandchildren know how grateful you are for who you are as a person. That you are happy to be you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you embrace all the little things, good and bad, that make you who you are.
Let them know they should feel the same and should never compare themselves to someone else. They each have a unique perspective, gifts, quirks, and idiosyncrasies that make them who they are, and they should never be ashamed of that. They may have things to work on; nobody's perfect. However, they should always be glad to be themselves and with all they offer the world.
How to put into practice: Have them make a gratitude list of all the things they like about themselves.
Photo crredit: ©Getty/Monkeybuisnessimages
10. Gratitude for Opportunities to Help Others
Let them know how grateful you are to have opportunities to help others (and that you are in good health to do so). Talk about how much you love helping with the church bake sale, helping your neighbor decorate the inside of her house for the holidays, or driving a neighbor to a doctor's appointment. Anything you do to help others is a great way to sow a seed of gratitude in your grands' hearts.
How to put into practice: Invite your grandchildren to go with you and help with an event or do something for a friend or neighbor.
There are many ways to sow seeds of thanksgiving into your grandchildren and to show them how good their life is. Choose one or two and start a family tradition of a lifelong attitude of Thanksgiving and gratitude.
Originally published Wednesday, 15 November 2023.