“ And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?”
What a sweet, warm feeling it is when a child spontaneously grabs a mom or dad and exuberantly says, “Thanks!” Everyone is smiling and feeling good for the moment. The child is like the leper who ran back to Jesus and glorified Him for his healing. Unfortunately, nine of the lepers did not bother to say thanks.
What can we do as parents and church leaders to help our children become like the one leper who gave thanks instead of the nine who didn’t? We need to set an example of always having an attitude of gratitude. We need to make sure that children understand that all things ultimately come from God. Children need to have an understanding of effort and process involved in the provision of his/her needs and desires.
One easy way to set an example of thanksgiving is to pray before eating. We should remember to do this even in public. It is an acknowledgement of the source of the food as well as a giving of thanks. Another way to set an example is through our conversations. Casual conversation should include phrases such as, “I’m thankful that…”. It is easy to change “I’m glad that…”, to “I’m thankful that…”. “Thanks” and “thankful” should be common words in our conversations.
Many attitudes can be implanted in children simply by changing our talk to and in front of children. When we are happy something happened, instead of giving credit to someone anonymous, why don’t we simply say that we are glad God made it happen. We need to point out to children that even though there are many inventions that we enjoy, God supplies the materials and knowledge to make those inventions, so ultimately our thanks should go to God.
When a child has experienced doing without wants or needs, that child is apt to appreciate what he/she receives more than if everything comes easily. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that giving things to children substitutes for time and love. Many children have far too many material things. How can they know what it means to wait for something when everything is given to them immediately. It has been said that those who experience delayed gratification do better academically. When a child helps do chores such as cleaning a house or gardening, there is a much greater appreciation of a clean house and vegetables on the table. It is good to have children earn money to purchase a need or want.
In the end, an attitude of thanksgiving is up to an individual, but how can one truly be thankful without an example to follow, realizing what it means to do without, or knowing what it takes to provide what we have?