Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: A Review

As a parent I know that I have plenty of room to grow. Let’s face it, it’s a learn-as-you-go, trial and error kind of job (shhh, don’t tell my kids!). I welcome resources that can help me reach my parenting goals (raising responsible kids who love Jesus and serve others).

There was a posting on Facebook to apply for the launch team for a new book coming out called Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes by Kristen Welch. The name sounded familiar to me. I haven’t read her other books but I have read a few of her blog posts. The title sounded like something my family and I could benefit from so I applied. And was accepted!
So I have had the opportunity to read the book before it’s official release on January 26th. And I loved it! I would recommend it to all of my mom friends who are desiring for their kids (and themselves) to grow in gratitude and contentment.
There are so many truths and wise advice in the book I don’t really know where to start so I will share some of my favorite quotes along with my personal thoughts. Before I get to that I want to let you know that the end of each chapter has a “take away” section that is divided by age range for kids so you can implement any valuable suggestions in an age appropriate manner (so helpful!).

Instead of happiness being a by-product of the life we live, it has become an elusive destination. And our culture is obsessed with pursuing it. We go into debt for it. We leave our marriages to attain it. We allow child-centered homes in hopes that our kids can achieve it. p.xiv

The conviction began in the introduction! It’s true. We are striving for happiness, something that cannot be truly measured or really achieved directly. Perhaps that’s why the Declaration of Independence talks about “the pursuit of happiness” rather than “the capture of happiness.”

As uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by living more grateful lives. p.11

I have become quite acquainted with the reality that I have to practice what I preach. What I do says more to my children than any speech I will ever give. Our kids look up to us as parents. They see us as demonstrating what it means to be a woman or man, wife or husband, mother or father, responsible citizen, friend, employee, etc. Whatever they see us do will be added to the description of the roles they see us in and may one day have themselves.

I know I’m guilty of putting things on a pedestal as something we must acquire rather than showing gratitude for everything we already have. My thought processes need to change and I need to be and express gratitude in the little everyday things.

Entitlement winds its course through my home, and the more I’ve become aware of its subtle infiltration, the more I see and hear it blatantly. This is all I get? There’s nothing else? From ice cream serving sizes to allowances, the opportunity to demand more is present. Is that all? I believe these three little words sum up the tone for those of us in most Western cultures. No one teaches us to ask that question or expect more. It’s in our nature. p.17

I cringed at this paragraph because it is true. I see this sense of entitlement in my own heart and it is not pretty. Thankfully there is a remedy – thankfulness or gratitude.

“How can you be so happy?” I asked as I looked around at all he didn’t have.                  “I have Jesus. He is enough,” he answered confidently.                                                 His answer was my undoing. Because I had Jesus, too, but He wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more – more money, more stuff, more to fill the emptiness. p.47

This is also so full of conviction. In our culture of more, the truth that Jesus is all we need is sometimes hard to accept and rest in. I know a lot of us find ourselves in the mindset of “Jesus and…”. I know I have Jesus, but if I just had [a particular thing – status, job, house, relationship, health] then I could be content. Um, probably not. If you can’t find rest in Jesus, then nothing else will give it to you. You (I) will be off to the next attainment if you (I) do receive what you (I) want.

We cannot give our kids stuff just because their friends have it. And we cannot give in to giving our kids stuff because our friends are giving it to their kids. It’s a dangerous cycle that is hard to break. We cannot make our parenting choices based on what others are doing. We have to purpose our lives with intention or we will end up being just like everyone else, caught in a trap in our culture that demands that we fit in. P.58,boldness mine

I am all to familiar with this temptation. To look at the other parents with kids our age to see what the norm is. But I don’t want my kids to fit into our culture. I don’t want to do something just because it’s the standard, especially if it’s something I don’t feel good about. I struggle with wanting to be accepted and approved of by others and it definitely holds true in my role as a mother. Parenting choices are so scrutinized these days that there’s so much pressure to follow the herd so you won’t be singled out and criticized. But if my choices are made out of fear of this occurrence, I am probably not doing what is best for my family.

I bought into the lie that it’s my job to make my kids’ childhood magical and fun, to guarantee that every day will be an adventure all about them.                                         Our children need to be bored. They need to kick their feet and wait outside of bathroom doors, unanswered. They need to be sent outside or to their rooms to play. They need to turn over the bag of tricks and find it empty.                                                               Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. They don’t need a plan for entertainment. They can create their own. p.74 

When we stop everything we are doing to meet the demands of our kids, we aren’t really helping them. We are reinforcing their natural bent towards selfishness. We are telling them that what they want is most important. p.78

I needed this section so much personally. As a SAHM, I feel like part of the job description is entertaining my kids all of the time we’re together. I do think purposeful, non-distracted time with them helps them to know that they are important, valued and loved. But if I defer all of my time to them I may become resentful and affect the quality of the time I do spend with them. They have plenty of toys and resources to occupy themselves while I do other things. I don’t remember my mom spending all of her time with us when we were little. She also had to get housework, cooking and errands accomplished throughout the day.

It’s probably quite healthy and beneficial for the kids to see that there are household responsibilities that need to be accomplished and that parents have lives that don’t revolve around them. Providing opportunities to practice waiting and showing respect for others are valuable and imperative in their development into responsible adults.

It is also okay and necessary to not yield to their every request or desire (despite how adorable they sound asking). They also need to learn to accept “no.” They need to see you and your spouse making one another a priority in daily communication and date nights.

This is the essence of a Christ-centered home – not getting it right the first or even the tenth time, but inviting Jesus in and letting Him heal our hearts and guide our lives. p.145

I love this reminder that we are never going to be perfect parents. Our mistakes ought to send us to Jesus for forgiveness, grace and guidance. It’s encouraging to know that we’re not alone in this journey.

Here’s the simple truth that isn’t so simple: Raising kids to be different from the world really does make them different from the world. This is true whether you homeschool them or send your kids to public or private school. Once you set them on that path, they will stand out when all they want to do is blend in. p.199

This is the tough part of parenting – knowing your kids may be teased as a result of your decisions. Even though the ultimate goal is worthy it’s still difficult. I need to trust that God can bring good from all experiences – even (and usually especially) the hard ones.

Our kids are watching us. And when we feel like we are failing or we don’t know what to do next, the answer is always to get closer to Jesus because when we do, those around us might just inch closer too. p.214

This is such an encouraging quote and a great one to end on. What is my ultimate goal? That my kids know and love Jesus. The best way for that to happen? Me showing them through my life (just like everything else).

Created by Michelle Mullins

This was a very long review of this book but it is so full of rich wisdom, conviction and encouragement that this is actually only a small snippet of highlighted parts of the book. If any of this resonated with you I highly encourage you to get and read this book.

Which of the above quotes stood out the most to you? I’d love to hear what part of this subject is closest to your heart.

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