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The Foundation for a Joyful Life

As a new parent, I recently realized that my husband and I will be our newborn daughter’s blueprint for how to navigate the world.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

What she learns from us in these early years will form the foundation of her experiences. From the start, one value I want to pass on to her is gratitude.

Of course, we all want our children to become grateful adults, but how can we help them develop this character quality in their lives? For insight, I looked to friends who had far more parenting experience than I do.

Here’s what I learned:

Gratitude from the Heart

Gratitude isn’t just a habit or trait we teach our children. It’s so much more than learning to say thank you when they don’t feel like it. Gratitude begins with discovering who Jesus is and what He did for us on the Cross. Our job as parents is to help our children understand that God has given us far more than we could ever give Him in return.

Then, extending gratitude to others is easy when our hearts are filled with gratitude for His amazing gift of salvation. One way to help our kids develop hearts of gratitude is to have ongoing, age-appropriate talks with them about God’s gift:

• Christ reconciled us to God while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8-10).

• God adopted us as His children in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-5).

• We are heirs of glory with Christ (Romans 8:14-17).

Gratitude Modeled

A friend of mine and her soon-to-be husband each had children from previous marriages. Two of the girls were the same age and eventually had to share a room. At first it seemed like a fun, never-ending sleepover, but soon they began to argue about toys and invade each other’s space. During this transition, my friend would tell them how blessed they were to be together.

One rainy day, when the girls started arguing again, one of them stopped and said, “But we’re blessed to be together like this.”

What a beautiful example of how to model gratitude for our children. We can learn to do this more by asking ourselves the following questions:

• In what areas do I want my child to show gratitude?

• How can I model gratitude in that area?

Gratitude is the foundation of a joyful and contented life. Let’s teach our children to give it from the heart.

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