Good Book on Instilling Gratitude that is Relatable and Practical
December 27, 2015
I really enjoyed reading "Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World - How One Family Learned that Saying No Can Lead to Life's Biggest Yes" by Kristen Welch. I have enjoyed several articles from her website, "We Are THAT Family", and was interested in her perspective on this subject. I loved that she admits to still being in the trenches of motherhood and doesn't pretend to have all the answers. It added a feeling of realness for me. I felt she was right on point with her description of the current state of parenting, including accurately naming one of the chapters "The Selfie Society". The culture in which we live seems to extol the idea that parents should always be a friend to their child and should strive for that child to be happy at all costs, mostly by enjoying extravagant and plentiful material possessions. This book encourages parents to avoid that idea and instead embrace an attitude of gratitude.
The book starts with glowing reviews from Gary Chapman, Crystal Paine, and Sally Clarkson. Each chapter has a section called Going Against the Flow that contains action steps and good advice for all stages of life, entitled parents, toddlers/preschoolers, elementary, tweens/teens. Throughout the chapters, inset quotes are plentiful among the text that point out important snippets. One chapter of particular interest to me dealt with technology and provided a list of rules to help mitigate the risk of children having access to technology. Most were common sense ideas, but there were a few I hadn't considered. The main text finishes up with a great chapter called "Dear Parents" with wonderful guidance. The book also contains a discussion guide for each chapter.
I think this would be a wonderful book for parents. I'll say that I don't agree with the discussion of rephrasing Proverbs 22:6 in chapter 2, but we end up the same place in terms of what should be done to help guide a child away from a sense of entitlement. It's sometimes hard to resist the norm of spoiling your kids to the point that they feel entitled. This book gives good practical ideas on how to cultivate the idea of choosing to be grateful. It was a timely reminder to not spoil my kids, given that I was reading it during the Christmas season. I think the author expressed my idea of the goal of parenting well when she said, "If we fix every problem, cater to every need, and bend over backwards to keep our kids happy all the time, we are setting them up for a false reality because life won't always offer them the same courtesy." It's important to make sure they are loved, but also to guide them into adults who are grateful and satisfied with what they have instead of one who is entitled and always searching for more. After all, as Mrs. Welch said, "...often our kids don't need more stuff or more freedom; they just need more of us."
I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.
It seems that a sense of entitlement is the natural state of affairs in our society. I wish I could say that it was limited to children, but adults live with it, too. Honestly, I struggle with it more than I would like to admit. As a result of struggling with it myself, seeing it in some of the students I teach, and seeing it in my own children, when I had the opportunity to read and review "Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World" by Kristen Welch (published by Tyndale House Publishers), I jumped at the chance. Boy, am I glad I did!
The book is about 240 pages, including notes. There are three appendices: Cell Phone Contract Between Parent and Child, Christian Parent Manifesto, and Recommended Resources. There is also a discussion guide before the notes.
Welch does a wonderful job of discussing the ways in which are children are entitled, and provides many helpful ideas of how to help our children become more grateful. The books focus, however, is on what we, as parents, need to be doing ourselves to ensure that we are communicating a grateful attitude in our homes, as we cannot expect from our children what we are not living ourselves.
Chapter 1 deals with the subject of wants versus needs.
Chapter 2 tackles the idea of how times have changed and how it is necessary, as parents, to be sure that we are instilling a biblical worldview in our children that is counter to our societys constant desire for more.
Chapter 3 talks about seven ways that we, as parents, have struggled in raising grateful children and provides instruction on how to do fix it. A few of the reasons we falter on the issue are We Want Our Kids To Be Our Friends (p. 51), We Are Afraid To Say No Because of the Fallout (p. 53), and We Dont Want Them To Feel Left Out (p. 57).
Chapter 4 talks about how our homes often become child centered, and the ways that this negatively impacts our children.
Chapter 5 discusses ways parents need to take precautions and think through the issue of technology use with their children.
Chapter 6 talks about helping children learn obedience and to go against the flow of our culture in terms of expectations.
Chapter 7 talks about Living Out Gods Love In Your Home (p. 129). This chapter was especially good, laying out ways to be sure that our homes are centered around Christ. This is, in some ways, the key stone to everything else discussed in the book. If Christ and His word are not central to our homes, then going against the flow in society as discussed in the other chapters simply doesnt make sense.
Chapter 8 reminds us that we have to choose to be grateful. The chapter briefly discusses the benefits of gratitude before giving some practical ways to cultivate gratitude in our lives and homes.
Chapter 9 puts the information from the other chapters into practical use, providing Seven Steps to Raising Grateful Kids (p. 176). Some of the ideas are teaching children to value hard work, teaching them the value of money, and teaching responsibility and how to manage consequences. All of the steps are much needed in our society.
Chapter 10 is titled Dear Parents. Rather than being a traditional summary and wrap-up chapter, this chapter reminds parents that the things discussed in the book are difficult to follow through with and that they may cause difficulties in the home and in the childrens lives. How could we expect less? When we ask our children to go against everything the culture around them teaches, there will me misunderstandings, loneliness, and push back. But, as the author points out, that is what we should expect as followers of Christ. I like the fact that the author doesnt sugar coat this; instead, she calls it like it is and helps parents figure out how to prepare children for it and deal with the issues as they come up.
Each chapter ends with a section of helpful tips called Going Against the Flow. There are always a few notes directed directly to parents, followed by some ideas for putting the ideas from the chapter into practice with toddlers/preschoolers, elementary students, and tweens/teens. It is very helpful to get some practical insight on how to apply what you are learning as you read.
I would highly recommend this book to all parents. My only regret is not having this book earlier, perhaps even before we had children in the first place. Already I have shared portions of the book with my wife, and she plans on reading it herself. We may even read it together. This is definitely one book I plan on keeping and passing down to my kids to read as they get older.
If at all possible, buy this book and read it prayerfully.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
A practical, heartfelt conversation about gratitude and parenting.
December 8, 2015
In Kristen Welchs book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, she shares several confessional stories of her own entitlement. She talks of a Christmas when her husband gave her a heartfelt gift of a pearl necklace in a season where they didnt have much money. When he put it around my neck, I said thank you--and then I went to the bathroom and cried. I was disappointed that I only had one gift from him under the tree. Oh boy. I had a lot to learn. I didnt just want something; I wanted more. And when I became a mom, this attitude spilled over into my early parenting. I wanted my kids to have more, the best. I wanted them to have it all, too...Entitlement didnt start with my kids. It began with me. I entitled them because I was entitled. (9-10) Kristens honesty made me want to learn from her as she shares her struggles with gratitude as her kids look around them to see their friends with smart phones or getting whatever they want and desiring the same.
I loved the practical suggestions Kristen offers throughout each chapter for parents of kids of any age to help cultivate gratitude and fighting a culture of entitlement. Beyond what to do with kids, Kristen puts responsibility on the reader that gratitude gets cultivated when we set the example. She doesnt mince words that this will be difficult. Her words and examples of how much she loves her kids remind me so much of what I see in God. He loves us enough to permit pain and discomfort. He loves us enough to not give us what we want if it isnt what we need. He loves us enough to do what is good for us, even if it means that we fall out over it. This is truth for all of us. This is the story that is TRUE, whether we choose to tell it or not. We can choose to tell a story of entitlement, a story that says we didnt deserve what we got. But that story misses the love that is beneath the surface.
I love Kristens words that inspire me with the impact of the story I choose to tell with my daily actions: I would love for my kids to say one day they are grateful for their lives because their dad and I were grateful for ours. I want them to have memories of me thanking God for all hes done. I want them to catch me writing thank-you notes and being generous with my time and money because God has been generous with me. But most of all, I want my children to know that we wanted them to resist the current of our culture and choose a lifestyle of gratitude because we love them deeply and completely. (213)
It isnt possible to be truly grateful and entited at the same time. The story of gratitude and the story of entitlement completely oppose each other. My heart finds hope in the knowledge that we get to choose. We get to choose what story we will tell about our circumstances, about our lives, about ourselves, about our God. We get to choose if we will tell the true story, the grateful story or one that omits the Lords loving care and provision. We get to decide if we will be grateful or sulk. I highly recommend this book as it calls me to the better story, a grateful story.
*Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255
I loved, I mean really loved, the latest non-fiction book on to read pile and it was one I read over the period of two days. "Raising Kids in an Entitled World," so aptly described the society in which we are raising our children and how our habits are resulting in entitled children instead of grateful children. I have enjoyed scrolling through and reading various posts on Kristen's blog and was so excited when I saw this book by her. Kristen shares her heart in this book and her stories that make up her own family's journey of raising their children in today's society. I love how this is Kristen's story, but also research tied in with it. Kristen and her husband's boot story near the beginning of the book is such a great illustration and one that I know will pop into my head throughout various moments of raising my children. This book flows so nicely and I love the quotes and tips that are interspersed and included at the end of the chapters. I know this will be a book that I will refer back to over and over again as my children grow. Kristen is such an encouragement and this book is exactly what I needed to read at this time. I highly recommend this book for parents of children of all ages.
*Thanks to the Tyndale Blog Network program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*