Search & Win

Happiness, part two

A friend and Sher Bear playing with face paints
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

According to Barry Neil Kaufman, author of "Happiness is a Choice" and co-founder/co-director of the Option Institute, thankfulness is one of the shortcuts to happiness.

So how do we help our kids (and ourselves!) to be more thankful?  It's a funny thing, because, it's not what you would think.  Reminding kids to say "Thank you" is not the same as them actually being thankful.  It's polite, and, I think, not a bad idea to get kids into the habit of saying thank you.  But etiquette aside, this is a heart issue.

When we are truly thankful, it springs from a knowledge that we did not deserve or earn what we got.  We we feel we earned it - that is entitlement.  Now, there is nothing wrong with doing a good job, working hard and earning your keep.  I am all for that.  But learning a good work ethic is not the same as being thankful either.

Entitlement quenches thankfulness.  It also creates whining.  When kids are whining, you could know that they feel that things aren't fair - in other words, they think they SHOULD get something.  Then, if they get it, they will not be thankful for it.

Sher Bear loves the baby quail
So how do we get rid of entitlement?  It is rampant in our culture.  Everyone thinks they are entitled to a home, healthcare, cell phones and cable television.  It is not making us happier to have all these things.

In our home, our kids know that they are not entitled to toys, special treats or even food.  (Remember the old days, when kids went to bed without supper if they disobeyed?)  Any needs we meet we do because we love them.  I am not talking about neglect.  I am talking about kid's attitudes changing to realize that they are blessed to have loving parents who care for them.

When the kids get demanding, whiney or otherwise unthankful, we talk about this again.  "Is it our job to make you happy?  No.  We love you, and so we do certain things for you.  But we don't have to do any of them."

I know how harsh this sounds.  It struck me the same way the first time I heard it five years ago.  But it has changed everything about how I parent, and how happy we all are.

Wish you were here!

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