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From the Christian Parenting Corner

Celebrations And The Christian Parent – Thanksgiving

Christian Family

Are you raising a grateful child?

While this question may inspire visions of a whining child in the toy aisle at the local big box store, a child who needs constant reminders to say “thank you and “please , a child with a Christmas wish list longer than your leg, or a child whose prayer at mealtime is short and generic, these instances are only symptomatic. A child who may forget her/his “please and “thank you is not necessarily ungrateful. Similarly, a child who is well-trained and dazzles all in attendance with flawless manners, does not necessarily indicate a child for whom gratitude is an attitude.

How do you know?

The answer to this question is actually quite simple: does your child know you love her/him more than life itself? Does s/he understand that God loved her/him more than His own son?

The odds are that your child is aware of the love you have for her/him. The odds are also good that there are times when s/he views your love as conditional, i.e. when you must choose to go to work instead of staying for 15 more minutes to play another round of Candy Land.

Yet, how does your child view God’s love for her/him? Does s/he feel that God has conditions attached to His love? Is s/he ever vigilant for God to be unavailable at some time or for some reason?

Let’s make sure…

Acquaint your child with the fact that s/he is a treasured possession in God’s mind. If He has a fridge, your child’s (and your!) photo is on it. Allow your child to understand that when s/he does something right (even when nobody else sees it), God in heaven is pointing it out to an angel, quite possibly high-fifing her/him in the process! Allow your child to understand that while God put some house-rules in place, He does not demand slavish obedience for the sake of earning His love, but instead, seeks obedience as an expression of our love for Him.

Share the Scripture in Exodus 19:5-6 with your child, to help cement the idea of obeying God fully so as to be able to take her/his position in God’s Kingdom of priests. Read Deuteronomy 7:6 together and help the child to understand that s/he is chosen, individually, by God. Her/his existence is no fluke, no accident, and did not occur by chance. Similarly, s/he having the opportunity to become a Christian is not a coincidence, but instead is God’s plan! Help your child to understand how to respond to these Bible truths with heartfelt awe and gratitude.

Yes, but…

So what does this have to do with the Thanksgiving holiday? I am glad you asked…

The hustle and bustle of the holidays has a way of keeping us, the Christian parents, running from store to store, talking on the phone incessantly, cooking until the cows come home, and causing us to put our children in front of the TV set in an attempt to keep them out of our way. Is this truly the best way to inspire expressions of gratitude in our children?

What is the Christian parent to do?

Well, here are some practical suggestions for you, the Christian parent:

  • Take your child(ren) with you when you shop for the Thanksgiving Day turkey. While this may seem odd to some, make it a big production. Let the child(ren) touch the various frozen birds, contemplate their sizes, and talk about the people who will be joining you for the feast. This is a great opportunity to forge a new Thanksgiving tradition, while also helping your child to think about other people and their importance to your family.
  • Your child may be well-acquainted with the custom of writing Christmas cards. Is s/he as well acquainted with writing “Thank You notes? If not, begin by writing a simple card to God. Hang it on the fridge, so the child(ren) may add to it at any time. This is a great tradition to start this Thanksgiving. By next Thanksgiving next year, the card should be full, and a new one can be started. Allow the card to be displayed at your church, or perhaps frame it and hang it on your wall, or maybe you want to burn it (reminiscent of the Scripture which likens our prayers as fragrant offerings that come before God). The possibilities are endless.

  • Buying decorations? Stop standing in line while cajoling your restless child(ren). S/he does not like standing in a crushing crowd at the cash register any more than you! Instead of buying your Thanksgiving decorations, make them yourself. (1)
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  • Another great idea for young children is to explore the many ways of saying “grace“. Visit Annie’s Thanksgiving Grace Page for some beautiful examples of such prayers. (2)
  • In closing, do not allow the Thanksgiving holiday to be a time of business that chokes out your (and your child’s) expressions of gratitude to the Lord our God!

    Sylvia Cochran

    Sylvia is a writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money. CochranChristian ParentingThanksgivingFrom the Christian Parenting Corner Celebrations And The Christian Parent - Thanksgiving by Sylvia Cochran Christian Family Are you raising a grateful child? While this question may inspire visions of a whining child in the toy aisle at the local big box store,...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids