Why Can’t They Just Be Grateful?


“Why is this taking so long?”

My six-year-old’s words caught me off guard. I was working feverishly to get dinner on the table and my two sons were already sitting down, waiting.

Almost instantly, I could feel my blood pressure rising. Who did this kid think he was? I had spent the past half hour assembling this meal and he wasn’t showing an inkling of gratitude. Did he know how hard I worked each and every day for this family?

Of course he didn’t. He was six.

Fortunately, before a torrent of anger came spewing out of my mouth, my husband addressed the situation. He told our son to apologize. Over dinner, we had conversation about being thankful and informed him he would be helping with the dishes, a chore usually done by an adult. But I couldn’t get my son’s words out of my mind.

My heart’s desire is to raise children who have grateful hearts, not children who think they are entitled to everything without having to work for it. We could delegate more work around the house, but what that it? I sensed I was missing something.

Out of curiosity, I conducted a survey asking some of my readers how they instilled gratitude in their children. I received a single response: Be grateful. The reply left me asking myself the question: Am I thankful?

There are certainly some days when I grumble. A lot. Like the other day when I lost my temper while trying to get the kids out the door in time for school. Often, my body language is enough to do all of my talking for me. It says, “I’m tired and irritable so leave me alone.”

When I take stock of my attitude toward life, I know I am grateful, but do my kids? Our children model what they see, so the best teacher on gratitude is their parents.

Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Whenever I see that word “all” in the Bible, I have to admit it makes me cringe a little bit. After all, who can search for missing socks and clean up endless messes to the name of Jesus, all while giving thanks? 

No one. Not without the help of the Spirit living in us.

When my desire is to become more like Jesus, the best place to start is at the foot of the cross.

Fully aware of my need for guidance, I went before the Lord in prayer. I bared my soul to him and admitted my weaknesses. And right there in the midst of my shortcomings, I found his strength.

As I awoke the next morning, I knew the day was brimming with possibilities. My kids and I made it out the door on time and as we pulled out of the driveway, I saw hint of rainbow in the middle of a huge, dark cloud.

It was getting more vivid with each moment.

Excitedly, I pointed it out to my son.

“Do you see it, buddy, do you see it?” I asked.

“Yes, Mama! And look, it’s following us!” he said with a grin.

As we made our way down the road, I felt giddy with anticipation of what the day held in store. And I thanked God for providing us with a step in the right direction.


*Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth

32 thoughts on “Why Can’t They Just Be Grateful?

  1. I’m struggling with this with my 6 year old right now, but I love the reminder that the best way to teach is to model. Thanks for this reminder to live out a more grateful life so my kids can see.


    • I think we all struggle with it as moms at some point, Kathryn. I’m starting my gratitude journal again, as it always helps me to see the blessings in front of me. Thanks for stopping here today!


  2. Abby,
    It’s a lot of pressure, when you think about it, to be the one modeling Christ to our kids. That thought alone should keep bringing us back to the foot of the cross. In addition to continually going to God to help me be a good role model, I also ended my days with my kids when I prayed over them…I would ask God to “fill in the cracks” where I failed to be a good example. Let’s face it, we’ll have good days and bad days. Great post!


  3. Love this, Abby. I’ve been there too. Someone’s complaining about the meal being late. They’re hungry, and they’re SITTING watching television!!! But oh yes, I want to model gratitude to my kids by being grateful and by speaking gratefulness. Sharing this on twitter and facebook because it’s important!


  4. “Be grateful. The reply left me asking myself the question: Am I thankful?” Loved this quote & your response. I have been having the same internal conversation this week.

    Abby, you’ve been authentic in this post. It’s an encouragement to all of us, and it certainly brings glory to the One who deserves our gratefulness.


  5. Oh do I ever get what you are saying. My six year old is going through a stage where he thinks that he is entitled to everything and that his rights matter more. He appears to be a selfish little boy. I didn’t say he is – he just acts like it. As his momma I act selfish too and I get all upset when I think my rights are being threatened. I lost my temper with my son yesterday because of frustration. YIKES. As I reflect on what happened yesterday and after reading your post, I realize that it is truly human nature to take life for granted. I agree with you a 100% that my kids learn thanksgiving by observing me and my actions. I love watching tree leaves and branches move in the wind. I always tell the kids to come quick and peek out the window. Look the trees are dancing I tell them with a great big smile on my face. Now my kids come and get me to show me the leaves dancing. Gratitude really is slowing down and appreciating all the little things are happening around us.
    Your posts always get me to thinking and my fingers just can’t stop writing. Thanks for being such an inspirational writer!!!!


    • That is so sweet, Lisa. The trees are dancing…I need to remember that. 😉 Thank you for sharing and always blessing me with your warm words. I hope you have a blessed rest of your week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Believe me…I so identify with this post! Gratitude is definitely caught…not taught, per se, and this convicted me big time. My focus in our house lately has been to encourage each other with our words, and to be thankful. My big plan for November was that I wanted each of us to write down 3 things we are thankful for at the end of the day, and hang it up on this clipboard thing we have in the kitchen. Admittedly, we haven’t kept up a perfect streak (which grates against my perfectionistic tendencies…!) – but nonetheless, on those days we DO sit down to do it, the evening is wrapped with a joyful peace. Which serves to confirm that thankfulness is the door to contentment. And oh my, what I would give to hold on to that truth all the day long! So yeah, I’m with you, friend! Praying for your awesome family right this second….!


    • I think writing things down that you’re thankful for is a great idea, Amy. I want to try that with my oldest. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Much love to you, my friend.


  7. Some days it’s hard, isn’t it? Gratitude is such a simple thing, but not always easy. But it ALWAYS diffuses the anger and resentment, doesn’t it? Great post. Thanks for sharing a bit of your heart. Visiting from Coffee For Your Heart.


  8. Thank you for this today. I think here in the US we have so much that we take it for granted. I want our girls and I to be thankful for what God has provided for us (and not just at this time of year.) Thanks for the encouragement today!


    • Yes, we definitely take a lot of things for granted here. I would like to take my kids on a missions trip sometime when they get older. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here today!


  9. In this season of thanksgiving, I am making a conscious effort to be grateful in all situations. There is always a tiny sparkle among the dirt and finding it can bring so much joy! I do not yet know the challenges and rewards of parenting, but it sounds like you are doing a great job!


  10. Gratitude is such a valuable lesson for our kids – especially in this day and age when so many are living with a spirit of entitlement. But, you are right, it’s so hard to wrap tiny minds around big lessons, like being thankful – especially when they live in a home where they feel safe, loved, and being anything other than content would be impossible. Perhaps, we build gratitude by providing and loving and nurturing whole hearts – growing up men after God’s own heart who will one day look back with gratitude in theirs, then pass the lesson on. You gave me lots to think about friend. Blessings!


    • I agree, Tiffany. It is hard to wrap their little minds around such things. I think little steps go a long way. Thanks for your continual encouragement, friend. You are such a blessing to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a beautiful eye opener, Abby. I will also have to remember to be conscious and cautious with my attitude in the future with my own kids around when I start my own family. Kids are great mirrors, aren’t they? My brother also when he was a kid would follow and imitate what he saw in us. One time he was told to lead the prayer during dinner and he just sit there with his eyes closed and said nothing, so intimate. When asked what he was doing, he said he’s imitating me because he saw me pray that way. Amazing how keen they are.


    • Oh yes, they are definitely mirrors. Somethings they reveal things we don’t want to see. 😉 That is so sweet about your brother. I’ve noticed our oldest son doing that as well. He used to pray out loud, but then noticed his Dad praying silently and wanted to imitate him. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!


  12. YES!! We can’t simply tell them to “do what I say and not what I do.” Kids mimic what they see! I have had to apologize to my kids for my behavior when it is less-than-stellar. I am so thankful for Jesus, for forgiving me and leading me every day. What a good reminder today. Thank you for the encouragement.


  13. It’s true that they follow what you model. They also learn when they are corrected the way your husband did. Sometimes when something has become a bad habit (sometimes for all of us) I put out “the jar”. Sometimes it is (for kids who have money) the jar to pay me….for looking at their messy room….for hearing a complaint. I think the last “complaint” jar cost them a dollar per……they are older…..it started with a penny (and we don’t do allowances). For the little people, I have put things in that they lose….like, well, pennies (I’m not rich). Each day, there is a jar with some pennies (or whatever) in it….and each grumble costs them one….they take it out and give it back to me. At the end of the day, they keep whatever is left. Sometimes, we’ve had multiple jars….I’ve been known to pay my fair share in the jar. Funny, but, if you give them a jar…..you won’t get very many pennies….at least not after the first day. They are very quick about it. I have never been able to go out to lunch on my “A Dollar for Your Complaint” jar…..not ever……sigh…..smile.


  14. “When my desire is to become more like Jesus, the best place to start is at the foot of the cross.”
    Powerful words my friend. As I lift my gaze to the cross, thankfulness begins to flood my soul. Praying my thankfulness affects my family.


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