Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciate for and to return kindness.
On average, I feel as though my man cubs make demands at least 100 times a day or so, and about 80 of those demands are met with, "where are your manners?", "I already said no", and "be patient". I sound like a broken record that no one seems to hear. The struggle is real. I never cave in to their demands, and remind them constantly that they need to ask politely to even be heard. I stand my ground. So, why is it they are still not getting the hang of it? Why do I have to prompt them to be grateful for what they have & what they are given?
Well, I've recently had my "ah-ha" moment. As I was yelling at my toddler to get his boxers back on (for the 5th time while I nursed his baby brother), I could hear the awful, demanding tone of my voice. You know, the tone that is also exhausted & annoyed, and a bit more aggressive then intended. The one that you replay at night as you lay in bed, wishing you could have said it differently. As many of you know, I've been reading this amazing (yet convicting) book by Kristen Welch called, "Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World". Convicting, because their "entitlement didn't start with my kids. It began with me."
From Eager to Meager
I grew up in poverty, at least America's definition. My parents divorced when I was about 6 or 7. My childhood was filled with hardships. Growing up, I did most of the housework and helped my sisters with homework. My sisters & I were briefly homeless when my mom went off the rails with drugs, alcohol, and an array of men. I attended 4 separate high schools in 3 different states my freshman year alone. Thankfully God brought me out of a horrible mess with one phone call to my grandparents in the next state over. They drove down to Indiana the next day to pick up my sisters & me while my mom was on her "honeymoon" with husband #4 (a convicted felon that she only knew 2 weeks before marrying). Her and her new hubby ended up in jail, and I was finally free.
I considered myself pretty self-sufficient by my senior year in high school, and throughout college. Proud of all that I had accomplished, yet humbled by where I started. So why is it, that as a wife & mother, I felt entitled to so much? I hadn't even realized it until halfway through the book! I get frustrated when our children forget to use manners. I expect my husband to be a mind-reader. My day is spent barking orders and grumbling about "being the only one who ever cleans around here". I get upset when my order is wrong at a certain drive thru restaurant (that I shouldn't even be eating at in the first place). I get jealous of nicer homes of friends, and embarrassed at times of my own home. And furthermore, I continue to stand in front of God and say, "I want, I want". Have I truly forgotten what God has brought me out of? When will I be patient enough? When will I be content with what He has already provided me with?
Coming out of tragedy tends to put things in perspective, makes you grateful for just surviving. But what happens when life is slow and steady, in between the tragic events? How do I maintain that level of gratitude? How can I prevent entitlement from creeping in? I wish I could stand before God and say, "You are more than enough for me. I do not want." Yes, I have moments like that, but to live in a constant state, as I am called to do, that feeling is fleeting. It's replaced with a child-like plea for more; an urgent request for something else.
This sense of entitlement has spread through my house like the stomach flu. Little did I know that I was the one that infected our man cubs. As Kristen states in her book, "When entitlement's poison begins to infect out hearts, gratitude is the antidote." It's time to eradicate entitlement. Eradicate. I love that word. It means to destroy, to erase, to "pull up by the roots". Well, the roots of entitlement are found buried in my words and actions, and it's poison has spread through to my fruit, my offspring. How are our children suppose to produce gratitude in every situation, when they are being exposed to my sense of entitlement?
I have decided to commit myself to being intentional with my words and actions. I'm human, and know that I will fail from time to time. But I will keep trying. Our man cubs are needing me to set the tone in the house, and needing Jesus to be our example. When we focus our hearts and minds on scripture first thing in the morning, it helps set the tone for the day. At dinner, we discuss our favorite part of the day, and at night we offer thanksgiving in prayer for even the basic needs that were met. I know that eventually we can reverse the damage of entitlement in our home, and crowd it out with an abundance of gratitude. Slow and steady, the roots of entitlement will be replaced with roots of gratitude, and our fruit will be so sweet.
- Mama Bear.
- Mama Bear.
Join me & check out these other wonderful blog posts about #RaisingGratefulKids! Grab a cup of coffee, and settle in for some great reading.