Smart Money Smart Kids, the new(ish) book by American finance expert Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze, explains in simple terms ideas on how to raise kids who have a healthy view of money.
In this excerpt from the book, Dave and Rachel discuss the power of humility and gratitude.
DAVE: Why is it that a two-year-old is often happier playing in the box a toy came in rather than playing with the actual toy? Why is it that children living in poverty in third-world countries seem happier and more content than kids in wealthy nations? Because neither is caught in the trap of comparisons. They don’t know what they are missing out on. They are simply grateful.
Don’t Raise Ugly Kids. Gratitude is really, really attractive. A child who is genuinely grateful makes you want to do anything for her, and that is true of adults as well. As parents, we’ve all experienced those wonderful moments when our children look at us with eyes filled with gratitude for something we’ve done for them. And sadly, most of us have had the opposite experience—seeing a child open a present and acting ungrateful. There are few things uglier than that.
We all have things to count as blessings, but we also have a tendency to lose our sense of awe and our sense of gratitude. Make sure your heart is full of gratitude for the blessings in your own life. Let your children witness this in you, and they will want to respond with gratitude for the blessings in their own lives.
The Source of Gratitude. So where does gratitude come from? What makes a child truly grateful? I believe gratefulness starts with humility. Humility is different. It is the opposite of entitlement, and it is the key to gratitude. James Ryle says, “Humility is the God-given self-assurance that eliminates the need to prove to others the worth of who you are, and the rightness of what you do.” The bottom line is that humility struggles to exist in the discontented heart. And it is very hard for discontentment to take root in a heart filled with humility that gives way to gratitude.
Humility through Giving RACHEL: True humility is more about thinking of yourself less, taking the focus off yourself—what you do or don’t have—and putting it on the needs of other people. The best way to nurture a spirit of humility and other-centeredness is to encourage a heart of giving in your child. I want you to see the trail that runs from giving to humility to gratitude to contentment. It’s a progression that leads your child out of the land of discontentment and toward an incredible life of joy and freedom.
When your child is focused on meeting the real needs of others through giving, it becomes harder and harder for him to focus on his wants. As giving becomes a natural part of your child’s character, you’ll see his whole perspective change. Dad just said above that it’s hard for discontentment to take root in a heart filled with humility. In the same way, it’s almost impossible for selfishness to flourish in the heart of a giver. With every act of giving, your child is taking a stand against discontentment. It’s like he’s saying, “I not only have enough for me, but I have enough to share with you.” That’s the fertile ground of contentment. And again, it’s not about age, it’s about maturity. Some kids will get this quickly and easily, and others will struggle with it for a while. You can help direct them, but you can’t force it. Give them guidance, but also give them grace.
DAVE: Children deserve to be loved and to know they are loved. They deserve to be cherished and to know they are valuable. It is our job as parents to love our children so much that they learn their value while remaining humble. Humility is a valuable virtue because it breeds gratitude, which is unbelievably attractive and bodes well for your child’s adult life. And, of course, gratitude is the best antidote to a lack of contentment.
Have the courage as parents to fight this war for the heart of your child. Fight it daily, fight it fiercely, and keep fighting until you win!