Billy Graham

Billy Graham: Encourage your children to give thanks, especially for Jesus

Q: I’ve decided that the hardest thing about Christmas is getting our four children to write thank you notes afterward. Am I expecting too much of them? I admit I get tired of trying to get them to do this. — S.G.

A: I suspect many parents could echo your frustration! After all, expressing thanks doesn’t come naturally to most children; it’s something they have to learn. And if they don’t, they’ll most likely be selfish and inconsiderate the rest of their lives.

This is why I hope you’ll keep urging your children to write thank-you notes for the gifts they’ve received (or to express their thanks in other ways — a phone call or email, for example).

Take time also to explain why it’s important to thank people for what they’ve done for us. It’s not just a social custom or a matter of courtesy; it’s a way to help us look beyond ourselves and to be grateful for the love of others. The Bible says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition. … Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Remember too that our children learn not only through what we tell them, but through what we do. Is your life characterized by “an attitude of gratitude”? Is thankfulness a sincere part of your life every day? The Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Most of all, however, encourage your children to give thanks for the greatest gift any of us can ever receive: the gift of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. Christmas is over for this year, but shouldn’t Christmas be part of our lives every day, as we thank God for sending his Son into the world for our salvation? Make Christ the center of your family’s life during this coming year.

Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or go to