Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Want a real Challenge? Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

I love my kids and I want to give them the childhood I had, plus some. I want to make their days sparkle with wonder and their holidays,especially, magical. I want them to wake up on Christmas morning to a twinkling Christmas tree surrounded by pretty packages filled with the things they've dreamed of all year long. But on top of that, I want to raise them to have a grateful heart that recognizes and appreciates a gift for the extra-ordinary thing that it is. I want them to peel off the wrapping paper with suspense, be all smiles as they examine the item their mama picked out just for them and receive a warm hug as we chatter about how much fun it will be to enjoy their new gift together. And sometimes, that's how our holidays go-but not this Christmas. 

  Don't get me wrong, my family had a wonderful Christmas; particularly the advent season was extra rich for us this year. We actually did really well savoring the anticipation of the "countdown". I loved the exuberance of my kids on Christmas morning, but, in about 5 minutes flat, my pile of presents wrapped in love were completely uncovered. I was left feeling a little disillusioned as I drank my cup of coffee, surrounded by gifts I had put a lot of thought into picking out for my kids and now barely had a memory of them opening. A week or so later my oldest son was asking if he got any books for Christmas like his little brother did and where this sweatshirt came from. With a little sadness, I told him, "These are things you got for Christmas, but you don't even remember opening them. Next time, we need to slow down and actually see the gifts in front of us." And my sometimes very sensitive-souled 5 year old started crying and apologizing for not really recognizing or appreciating his gifts. I realize that all kids get over excited on Christmas morning and kids don't remember every gift they receive and  who it was from: kids will be kids and my son wasn't at fault. I also realized that it was my job to help him learn to recognize the gifts for what they were and cultivate a grateful heart.  The perfect book came across my path to give me the knowledge and resources I needed to make this mission a reality.

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. First off, and least importantly, this is a beautifully designed book! The textured, matte cream cover with the metallic leaving details makes it awful pretty to look at-I'm a sucker for a pretty book. On a more serious note, this book is really topping my recent favorites list- it is extremely relevant to most modern, Christian families. I think it's safe to say, this generation is unique in it's inborn belief that they really are entitled to just about any and every good thing the world could give them. We're seeing so many sad and scary examples of this on the news and in our culture almost daily. And I must admit, I fall prey to the marketing and mindset of this mentality sometimes. So while there is nothing new under the sun, the Entitlement Epidemic is a fairly unique challenge for this generation of parents. Once I acknowledged that my kids were not immune to this, I got intentional about seeking out all the help I could get on this topic!

 Kristin Welch has written an amazing resource that I really feel has a place in every family's parenting library. I love Kristin's humble offering of advice and very real life examples from her own family's trial and error experience with this area. I have always been a fan of "self improvement" books and have gained a lot of  life wisdom thru them- whether about marriage, parenting or spiritual life. While I do enjoy digging into the philosophy of these subjects, I really benefit from solid, achievable strategies as well- especially when it comes to parenting! I gained a lot of hope reading personal stories from Kristin's "veteran mom" life experiences. I could totally relate to her struggles with ungrateful kids and was encouraged to press on in my own parenting journey from her tales of parenting victories. 

 Raising Grateful Kids covers a broad scope on this parenting topic. The book starts out spelling out for us the difference between what our kids want and need and how our affluent, technologically advanced society really skews this truth. Welch takes us for a walk down memory lane on what a "normal" childhood used to look like, even not so long ago, and how much more children expect now. We then jump into the uncomfortable truth that we, as parents, are a huge factor in our children's entitlement struggle. This chapter addresses many of the reasons parents tend to "spoil" their kids- wanting to "buy" their friendship, wanting them to be happy or not wanting them to feel left out, etc. Kristin does a great job providing even scientific evidence why our children don't benefit from this. The book continues to walk us thru common struggles with the child centered home, "everyone's a winner" and the over availability of technology to kids. Welch offers some great tried and true tips and family strategies in these areas that I will definitely be implementing in my own family! I also really appreciate the Going against the Flow practical challenges for parents and then different age groups of kids at the end of each chapter.

 The next section of the book really does a good job of helping us set firm foundations for our children while we have them at home. Ways such as teaching obedience, immersing our household in God's word and living out God's love in our home. The Welch family is living out an awesome legacy of service with the many ministries they run and participate in. It was really empowering as a parent to read Kristin's stories of leading her children into opportunities to serve others and how sincerely her kids embraced and grew thru that. We are reminded that gratitude is always a choice regardless of the circumstances and that as parents, we are our kids best teacher and example of this. 

 Kristin solidly ends the book with a super practical Seven Steps to Raising Grateful Kids that's worth the whole book in itself! I really appreciated her farewell letter to parents; honestly sharing that, like the most parts of the Christian life, if you choose to raise your children in this counter cultural way, you (and harder on your parent heart, your kids) may not gain popularity because of it. They will look different than their peers and they'll feel it too; some days that will be hard on the whole family. But Kristin encourages us that it is worth it and our children (and their Creator) will thank us someday for taking the harder path to raise grateful souls. I know that's a legacy I want to leave behind. If you're after the same for the little souls you are in the process of shaping- get this book on your bookshelves! I think it's a resource you'll return to for years to come.

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment