Teaching Our Kids to be Thankful

We will give thanks to you from generation to generation, we will recount your praise.
Psalm 79:13
I just knew I had done everything I could.

We read pilgrim stories at Thanksgiving. We crafted cards for the nursing home residents on Valentine’s Day, complete with pink cut-out hearts. We filled shoe boxes with goodies at Christmas, for goodness sake!

What more could I have possibly done to teach my child to be thankful?

Watching a 5-year-old share his favorite toy with the next-door neighbor can make a momma’s heart swell with pride. And this momma had plenty of chances to praise her boy for his servant’s heart.

Yet here I am now, with a teenager in the house. And I find myself in a frustrating but familiar pattern. The cell phone we just bought sits shattered and dented on the kitchen table after a skateboarding incident, the protective case gone. I see the opportunity and surge into lecture-mode.

“Haven’t we taught you to take care of your things? There are other children in this world who’d be happy to have a phone like this. Why can’t you be grateful for what you have?”

And just like that, I’ve let a broken cell phone cause me to wonder where I went wrong. I let my self-doubt bring me to a harsh conclusion.

I’ve failed at teaching my child how to be thankful.
Teaching Our Kids to be Thankful blog post
In Psalm 79, a psalm of Asaph, God’s people are crying out to the Lord in distress. They’ve made mistakes, and other nations have come against them with great force. While confessing their sins of the past to their Heavenly Father, they also ask for deliverance.

“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!”
(Psalm 79:9).

But as their plea comes to a close, they commit to a life of thankfulness – not only for themselves, but for generations to come.

Their children.

Like the Israelites in this passage, we want our children to be thankful. But when they go through that tough transition from childhood to teenage independence, how do we let go of the lectures and teach true thankfulness?

Over the years, I may have created some unrealistic ideas about my son. I pictured the kind of teen he would become, and maybe – just maybe – I got a little carried away…

My kid would be someone who always put others first, no matter what the cost. He would sell his belongings, give to the poor, and probably grow up to be a missionary in a third-world country.

However, in the midst of these high expectations, I realized an important truth.
Everything we have comes from the Father. James 1:17 (ESV) tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…”

I know this to be true, but do I demonstrate it with my actions? Or do I constantly complain about my circumstances? I can’t expect my child to understand true thankfulness if he hears me grumbling.
  • When the roof leaks.
  • When I’m running late for work.
  • When another medical bill shows up in the mail.
  • When I’m tired, aggravated, or ready to give up and negative words fly out of my mouth, God speaks this gentle reminder to my heart.

Why can’t you be grateful for what you have?

Just as a loving parent wants his child to be thankful for their good and perfect gifts, God desires our thankfulness as well. And when we live daily in an attitude of praise, our children learn true thankfulness. Not from lectures, but from our living example.

Let’s commit to living a thankful life today. What an impact we can have on our families and loved ones through glorifying the Father of lights! We will leave a legacy of gratefulness to God for generations to come.

Blessings Soul Friends,


Diving Deeper

To learn more about what the Bible teaches us about Gratitude, download this free Gratitude 31 Scripture Reading List.


In Cinched, Kristine takes us on a journey with the fierce Rahab of the Bible, uncovering 10 lessons to help us trust God like we mean it. If you’re ready to discover how to
  • Trust God with your decisions, relationships, and other hard things.
  • Release worry and rest in knowing God’s got it.
  • Secure your faith to God's promises, no matter what.
Then come along, soul-sister. A life-changing level of trust awaits in the pages of Cinched.
Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, a nurturer by God's design, and a life-long learner and teacher. You'll find devotions and resources to help you "become more than yourself with God's Word" at her website, kristinebrown.net.

1 Comment

Beth Rayann Corder - November 4th, 2021 at 6:55pm

Hey Kristin,

Thanks for the great challenge to be an example of thankfulness. I don’t have children, but I do feel a heartfelt responsibility to be an example to the next generation and could do better with this area.

🌻Smiles, BRC