When I shared the UnThankful Heart post on Facebook and asked for advice from other parents on cultivating thankfulness, I received some great feedback and information that was so helpful and encouraging. I think my favorite response, though, was from another blogger whom I've never met and who lives all the way over in Sweden. She shared this post with me that she wrote about her own children just a few weeks ago: "Nurturing Thankful Kids"
She decided to do something called a Thankful Garden where each day everyone tells something they are thankful for, and then it's written down on a paper flower and put into a bucket. I loved the practical idea and the visual aspect of it, so I decided to start something similar for each season. I found some fake leaves and a basket at the dollar store, stuck some green foam bricks in it and our Thankful Leaf Basket was born. For the past couple of days, I let Brock pick out a leaf for each family member, and we write on the leaf something that we are thankful for.
It makes a cute fall decoration for the living room, but more than that, I have noticed that it really does seem to change our hearts a little. I chose to bring out the activity during times that he was grouchy and complaining (which in turn, usually makes me grouchy and complaining), but both times I noticed that it positively affected his (and my) attitude when we had to stop and consciously come up with something for which we were all thankful. And then we could talk about those things and think about how much we have already been given and how much we really have that we can be happy about.
I have no way to rid this entitlement from our home. Our Big Boy and our Little Bear are human beings with their own will, their own personality and their own desires – they will make their own choices. I cannot control them. But these are their little years, when they are wide open to hear, to receive, when their souls are pliable. I want to make the most of this time, and this is one small, easy way we are trying to keep entitlement at bay...
This is one small thing we can do every day that will build into the future, and I long for this – for our home to be a place of thankfulness, where whatever our circumstances may be, our eyes might always be open to the hand of God, open to us in all its abundance, keeping the dogs of entitlement and boredom away.
That we may set our hearts on what we have, to set our minds on what is good and pure and beautiful, to rejoice in the glorious ordinary – our food, the sun, each other. That we may in all things, at all times say two small words: Thank you.