Do you remember all the work and money it took to provide and pull off the perfect Christmas surprise for your child? The moment you saw the look of joy on her face and the thankful hugs made it all worth it. Year after year, it took a little more work and a little more money to see the same joyful expression on your now teenager’s face. Year after year the joy on her face and her words of thanks faded. Here are a few tips on how to balance your teen daughter’s wants and needs and to encourage a thankful heart that will last a lifetime.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to give nice things to our children. We love them. We want the best for them. Even our heavenly Father often showers us with blessings because He loves us. However, if we give too much and sacrifice other “needs” for our teen’s “wants”, it can lead to entitlement instead of thankfulness.

Here are a few suggestions to keep everyone thankful.

  1. If your teen wants an expensive item, such as the latest designer jeans, cell phone, tablet or car, talk to her about how much you are willing to share in the cost of it. Teens who often work and save for something they really want are more likely to take care and be thankful for it.
  2. Get your daughter involved with a community service such as helping at a homeless program, serving others at a soup kitchen, or spending time helping an elderly person at a nursing home. Do it together. This takes the focus off of their wants and shows them the needs of others.
  3. Remind your teen daughter or granddaughter that material things do not bring happiness, but only fill a temporary desire. Instead, spend time with her and make fun memories together. Pick a day of the week and make it “her” day. My sons probably won’t remember all the wants they wanted as a teen, but they remember that for years Thursday evenings were our Dairy Queen Blizzard night watching a competition television show. It helped show my sons that they were special, and together, the four of us spent an evening talking and enjoying each other’s company. At the end of the day, they didn’t worry anymore about what they wanted that they didn’t have.
  4. Be her example. Express your thankfulness and gratitude toward others who help you. Show them, through your words and actions, the importance of giving thanks. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).