Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Children's Books on Thankfulness


In line with our November social media focus this month of “The Core of Thankfulness”, we will be reviewing two children’s books on gratitude, “Thank You, God, for Blessing Me” by Max Lucado and “I’m Thankful Each Day” by P.K. Hallinan. These book reviews are written by one of our counselors, Christine Baker. She works out of our Birmingham and Tuscaloosa offices. If you would like to read more about her, click here.

“Thank You, God, For Blessing Me” by Max Lucado:

This ten-page book tells the story of a day in the life of Little Hermie, who is a thankful green caterpillar. This book is very well-illustrated with lots of color for your children to enjoy. Little Hermie visits all of his friends and goes through all of his daily activities and thanks God for each one. This is a great book to teach your children about how we can be grateful to the Lord for everything, big and small. I would recommend this book for children ages 2 and up. If you would like to purchase this book, click here

“I’m Thankful Each Day!” by P.K. Hallinan:

This twenty-six page book rhymes its way through the day of a young boy. The book is well written with some words understandable to children of all ages, and some more challenging words. The book is very well illustrated with beautiful bright colors. It is a great resource to use to teach children to be thankful for things outside of just material possessions. It is not an obviously Christian book like “Thank You, God, For Blessing Me”, however you could easily use this book as part of a family Bible study to help teach your children about gratitude. I would recommend this book for ages 5 and up. If you would like to purchase this book, click here

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Do I Teach My Children About Thankfulness?

Dear Anne,
I can see that your social media focus this month is a focus on thankfulness. I feel like I am starting to understand that more and more, but how do I teach my children to be thankful? It's not that they are greedy, but a lot of the time I feel like they expect all the things they receive instead of really appreciating it. Help!

-Not Wanting My Children to Be Brats

Dear Not Wanting My Children to Be Brats,

Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time to emphasize thankfulness within our family. However, like everything else in parenting, daily consistency is the best way to teach our children that thankfulness is an attitude that is important to God.

We teach our children whether we want to or not. Little eyes see our actions, and little ears hear our words, and then our children model what they have learned from us. My children, before they could properly pronounce the words, began to say “thank you” when someone gave them something they wanted.  That behavior was “caught” rather than “taught.” It did not necessarily indicate a grateful heart, but this simple behavior laid the groundwork for more difficult “heart work” to come.

As Christian parents, our greatest hope for our children is that they see their Creator as their greatest joy. It is difficult to desire the Giver of all good things if we are not content with what he has given. Often, we covet God’s gifts. It is a challenge to move beyond merely loving the blessings of God to being satisfied in Him. And let’s face it, with live in a culture where we and our children are constantly bombarded with messages to covet the newest and coolest.

Often in the Old Testament, we see Israel turn from God because they had “forgotten” what he had done for them in the past (Judges 8:34, Hosea 8:14, and Psalm 106:21). God tells us that we should always be speaking to our children about Him, so that they do not forget. Our voice may be the only one our children here challenging the messages of our culture. Certainly, Thanksgiving is a good time to reinforce the daily habit of thankfulness. During this special time of the year, we should model being thankful for the blessings that we have received.

On a practical note, my husband and I have found that an awareness of the lives of Christians outside of the United States has helped our children to appreciate what they have. My children were able to make friends with a set of siblings that are their age before that family left for Papua New Guinea to do tribal missions. That personal connection informs our five-year-old’s prayers. It taught her to think of others when shopping in the toy department for things that we could mail to her friends. It showed her that children who do not have television or video games are still blessed, because they know God and have their family.

We also pack a box or two for Samaritan’s Purse through our local church. After viewing the holiday toy catalog, my daughter dreams of the wonders found in its pages. These dreams are made more realistic when she understands that a child somewhere will only receive flip-flops for Christmas, and yet will appreciate them. Thanksgiving is also an ideal time to point out the many blessings that we have received as a family, and to remind our children that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of the heavenly lights (James 1:17) who knows our needs (Matthew 6:32) and will withhold no good thing from His children (Psalm 84:11).

 *This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US:askanne@abchome.org or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.