Pushing Past Simple Gratitude

“Why can’t you be more grateful?!?!”

I hear this all the time from parents in our church, neighborhood, school… well, pretty much everywhere, including my own home.

Our children have so much. Virtually everyone we know has everything they need: clothes, shoes, food, and shelter. And they have all the non-necessities, too: XBOX, Wii, iPads, cell phones, bikes, and toys. I believe my entire street put a pool in their backyard this year – and I don’t mean the kiddie or above ground variety. You get the point.

As parents, our overflowing stuff plus limited gratitude drives us to demand gratefulness from our families.

So when my 14-year-old daughter and I recently returned from a mission trip to Ecuador with Compassion International, what I heard no less than 50 times was to be expected: “Aren’t you glad your daughter was able to see how the rest of the world lives? I bet she will be more grateful for what she has now!”

I hate to admit it, but to some extent, I thought the same thing as we boarded the plane out of Atlanta. She has everything she needs – and more. Much more. Her carryon bag proved the point. As a family, we have been blessed, and I used to desire more gratitude from my kids.

But while we were visiting the little home of a Compassion sponsored child in an extremely impoverished community in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, it hit me: I don’t want my daughter to feel grateful, I want her to feel responsible!