It is a season of thanks, when we gather together as families, big and small, blended and together, and acknowledge the blessings that relationships bring and truly how wonderful life is. What a gift it is to have loved ones. To sit around a table or on a couch, in a home or a coffee shop and simply fellowship with someone you love is refreshing. It is in relationships that we have the opportunity to show that we care, love, and can honor the dignity of another person. Thanksgiving is a time when we should be teaching our children something greater than thanks; grace.
We see God’s grace, His unmerited favor, in the physical manifestation of creation. We see it in the person of Jesus. The verse John 3:16 is quoted often to note God’s love for the world; “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. But that verse also demonstrates something else; that God cares about what He has created.
Grace tells us something about caring. Yet according to the “Making Caring Common project, a study being conducted by the Harvard School of Education, about 80% of youth surveyed said “their parents were more concerned about achievement or happiness over caring. The study continued to note that parents were prouder if they got good grades over anything yet despite the rhetoric that parents may give about being concerned for others, the reality is that real message conveyed in day to day parental behavior is that parents want their children to achieve good grades and to be happy (feel good most of the time).
Intuitively, we know that what this study reveals is true. We see it around us, we might even catch in our conversations with our children and grandchildren; “How did you do on that test? “I just want you to be happy. Just like businesses consistently focus on what they say like Nike’s “Just do it or Chick-fil-A’s “Eat more Chicken, we as parents are always creating a priority of values in what we say to our children.
As we sit down over Thanksgiving and as we approach this season of Christmas, can I encourage you all to change the tenor of our conversations from achievement and happiness to how we treat others? One of the greatest treasures that we can give our children is to teach them to care about others (here are some tips on how to do so).
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