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 book’s 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 society’s 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 Don’t 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 God’s 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 doesn’t 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 children’s 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 doesn’t 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.