Kristen Welch, in her book Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, teaches parents how to change the story of the normal American family. Leading by example and experience, she writes a much-needed book and a wake up call to parents about how to live differently in the midst of a culture that is teaching children they never have enough. A mix of testimony, practical wisdom and challenge, parents are taken on a journey to a better way to raise children free from entitlement.
Part 1: Launch
Want vs. Need
What was once more than enough has now become not enough for families trying to live the “American Dream”. Entitlement doesn’t start with children; it begins first in the parent. Children have an attitude of entitlement because parents are entitled as well. Parents who desire kids that are less entitled must be less entitled and more grateful. It comes down to a parent’s choice to first tackle their own understanding between wanting and needing. It is time for parents and families to go against the flow.
Times Have Certainly Changed
Times have changed, but children really haven’t. Entitled kids have been around since God created humans in Genesis. The Bible is full of stories of entitled children. Maybe it is the parenting that has changed? If parents give children too much too soon, they will take it and feel like they are entitled to it. Society has shifted what is considered truth and even changed the Christian worldview with it. It is time for Christian parents to challenge those things that are now considered true, especially when it comes to providing for their children.
Part 2: Undertow
Seven Ways We Parents Miss the Boat (and How to Get on Board)
It is a parent’s duty to give our kids what they need-food, shelter, and love. Often parents have the opportunity to give much more than that. The problem becomes when parents want to give them what they can’t always provide-happiness. Why parents do what they know they shouldn’t is: 1.) Wanting kids to be a friend. 2.) Fearing to say “no” because of the fallout. 3.) Guilt about circumstances. 4.)Busyness. 5.) Not wanting them to fail. 6.) Not wanting them to feel left out. 7.) Not wanting them be unhappy. Parents must learn kid’s temporary unhappiness is an opportunity to learn. Learning to obey and submit to authority will teach children how to love God and others better in the future. Children need more of a parent being present than more stuff.
The Selfie Society
Parents do a great injustice to their children when they do not permit them to discover and find their own uniqueness through being average. The word “selfie” that has come on the American scene in recent years has taken the self-esteem movement to a whole new level of self-absorption in children, young people, and even parents. When parents allow self-centeredness to come into the family, parents run the risk of having a child-centered home. Parents have bought into the world’s idea that a child’s experience growing up needs to be a daily adventure of fun and excitement. Children need to be bored sometimes. It is okay for parents not to have to entertain their child all the time. Seven problems of child-centered homes: 1.) Kids expect more of parents and less of themselves. 2.) Strains on parents’ marriages. 3.) Reinforcement of selfishness. 4.) Burdening children with unnecessary pressure. 5.) Narrowing children’s perspective on the world 6.) Inhibiting awareness of others. 7.) Perpetuating a lack of self-control.
Making Smart Choices about Technology
Parents need to equip their children because technology is a powerful tool in their hands. It requires developing maturity and self-control. Parenting and teaching smart choices when it comes to technology cannot be passive but active. Parents must be actively teaching and engaging their children with conversations and teaching. A few things parents can teach their children: 1.) Nothing is ever really private. 2.) Nothing is ever permanently deleted. 3.) Some things are better face-to-face. 4.) Remember there are real people with real feelings behind every avatar 5.) It is okay to disagree with someone’s opinions but kindness always wins. 6.) Don’t let negativity change how you feel about yourself. 7.) Avoid drama. 8.) Never mention your location. 9.) Take a day to rest from social media. It is hard to teach children to be different from the world if the home looks like it. Parents need to take back their living rooms, tune out media and turn off technology.
Part 3: Resisting the Current
Obedience is a learned behavior that places a parent’s authority over their children. Parenting without this authority is recklessness in a family dynamic. If a parent is not their child’s authority, who will be? A child who is without parental authority will become their own authority, which is a dangerous thing. A parent’s authority must come with God’s grace. If a parent is demanding obedience but lacks grace in handling moments of disobedience or failure it will exasperate their children.
Living Out God’s Love in Your Home
Parents, more than anything else, should want their children to follow Christ, and that starts in the home. If parents want so see their children follow Christ they must not divide the focus of their home. A home cannot “serve two masters”. A Christ-centered home starts with parents intentionally working hard to invite Jesus to be a part of every part of their family’s life. Central to all of this is reading scripture together, talking about it, writing verses out and discussing differences of perspective on passages in order to shape a family and home.
Part 4: White Water
Gratitude Is a Choice
Nothing makes a parent’s heart fill with joy more than an unprompted thank you and show of gratitude from their children. Almost as discouraging is the not hearing or seeing gratefulness from a child. Entitlement poisons the heart and home. The cure is learning and showing gratitude. Parents can created a routine filled with consistent opportunities to show gratitude. It is all about perspective. Parents need to teach their children about perspective and give them eye-opening experiences to get perspective. The best way to get a different perspective is by doing something different. Choosing to be thankful in hard places, doing hard things will set children free to be grateful.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Parenting is about practice. Parents get what we put into it. Here are seven areas of practice parents can work hard on to raise grateful kids: 1.) Teach ownership. 2.) Stress the value. 3.) Emphasize the value of hard work. 4.) Teach responsibility and manage consequences. 5.) Help children see the benefits of delayed gratification. 6.) Give children a larger worldview. 7.) Strive to instill faithfulness. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. Learning, as parents, to be faithful allows us to be living examples of Christ and of Godly gratefulness for our children.
The simple truth, that is not actually that simple, is raising kids to be different from the world really does make them different from the world. It is true no matter where you live or how you choose to school them. Once a parent begins to raise their children differently from the world, they will immediately stand out from the crowd. A few simple things to help a family stand out: 1.) Choose to live in Christian community. 2.) Make your home a safe place. 3.) Choose relationship over rules. 4.) Pray for your children. Raising grateful kids that stand out and stand up in an entitled, ungrateful world comes down to making the choice as parents and as a family to live gratefully and live as examples.