Teaching and Choosing Contentment

Recently, my six year old asked me if he could buy a piggy bank with his own money. I told him he didn’t need one because he already has a “bank” his Grandpa built for him. It’s a beautiful wooden box, complete with an old style post office mail box door. Each one of our boys has one. My Dad even engraved each bank with our sons’ names and used their initials to create their own personalized combination locks on them. They’re beautiful and serve the purpose they are intended for well. I didn’t see the point in buying a replacement.

Teaching and Choosing Contentment

After much begging, I eventually (and very reluctantly) gave in to my son’s request for a new bank. He so badly wanted to spend his own money and I thought maybe I could use this as a learning experience. So, we ordered his new piggy bank using his money. It arrived five days later. Upon opening the package, I could see the disappointment written all over his face.

It was ironic to me that he wanted so desperately to spend his money on something that would hold and protect all of his prized coins and paper money, even though he already had a place for it. The excitement over buying something new, something he perceived as better, has worn off. In fact, he was deflated the minute he held it in his little hands and could compare it to what he already had.

The lesson here? More is not always better.

Since then, my son has been on a kick to spend his money on SOMETHING else, anything. The disappointment of not being filled and satisfied by what he already had and then what he bought to replace that thing was overwhelming to him. The desire to buy “more and better” seems to be a trend that is only growing in our culture today. And it starts early.

At this time of year, these feelings only seem compounded by the anticipation of Christmas. Their wish lists continue to grow as conversations often center around all things toy-related. I get it, but once again, I’m aiming for a much more Jesus-centered Christmas. I know how exciting it is for kids to dream of the things they hope to get at Christmas time. I understand how easy it is to think that having more will make you happy, that even replacing the things you already have with “better” things will bring about fulfillment. I get it, because sadly, I have suffered from this thought process and the emptiness it actually creates.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

As I realize how easy it is for me to fall prey to this line of thinking, I am now more aware of how much more so it must be for our children. Discontent and ungratefulness are at the heart of this matter. So, I am praying that as God reveals this sin in my own heart and shows me how to be content in all circumstances, that He would also show me how to teach contentment and thankfulness to my boys.

Last week we read The Fisherman and His Wife for the first time. This is such a great story for illustrating the ways in which someone can fall into the trap of thinking that more and bigger is better. My four, six, and eight year old boys completely understood the moral of this classic tale. My oldest son said it perfectly, “If only the fisherman’s wife realized that she already had a good life. Every time she asked for a bigger house and more power, it only made her sadder because she forgot that more things don’t make you happy. They only make you want more.”

One of the ways we are now practicing contentment is to take the first few minutes of our homeschool day to talk about all the ways we are thankful for what we have. I put together a “Thankful Journal” for each of us. Then we take five minutes to write or draw the things we are thankful for. This is such a good way for us to remember all the ways that God has blessed us. Beginning our days with a posture of thanksgiving instead of discontent is like giving God an invitation to fill our hearts with His Joy! I’m also less apt to complain and grumble about the difficulties and unmet expectations of the day when I choose to be thankful.

Thankful For


I don’t want my contentment (or my joy) to be dictated by my circumstances. (Philippians 4:11-13)

There’s nothing like giving away some of what we have to help us become more content. It automatically places the focus on others and removes the self-centered spotlight on ourselves. When we spend time going through our clothes, toys, and books to evaluate what we “need” and what we can give away, it changes our hearts and helps us to live in service to others and God.

As I look for ways to impress upon my boys the importance of a thankful heart and a contented spirit, I am becoming more aware of just how many opportunities to express gratitude that I miss. In the busyness of our days, I often forget to say thank you. I know that I notice when my boys or my husband show gratitude for something I’ve done. It lifts my spirit and makes me smile. I know it does the same for them.

Praying together before meals and at bedtime is another perfect time to share all the ways we are thankful for God’s blessings. Since our boys were little and able to talk, we’ve always encouraged them to  pray for something they’re thankful for. Often, their lists include everything under the sun and they’ll go on and on before letting someone else take their turn. I’m more than okay with that. And then there’s our littlest one who is two. He bows his head, closes his eyes and folds his sweet little hands in his lap and prays this simple prayer each night, “Thank you God, Amen!”

How do you teach your kids how to have a heart of gratitude and contentment in a world that teaches more is better?

Read more of Megan’s articles on Hip Homeschool Moms.

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  1. Thank you so much for this blog; it’s exactly what I needed this morning. I have been struggling with these same things, and I appreciate your honesty. Thank you also for the idea of that thankful journal. I have a feeling we’ll be starting that today!

    1. Bethany,
      Thank you so very much for your sweet words. Contentment is one of those things that always seems to be an issue unless I am continually aware of where I’m at in it. I think if we can just stand on the side of thankfulness for God’s help in our struggles and thankfulness when we’ve risen above them…..then contentment won’t be so reliant upon our circumstances because we can always find something to be thankful for. That is my hope and prayer anyway. I am encouraged by you today.

      Thanks again,

  2. My journey on this path began years ago in seeking to eliminate adoption debt and still acting on my love of being a giver, I had to work out what was truly important in budgeting. I actually began a journal like this for myself and had my oldest daughter start one as we dealt with the challenges of her earlier start in life and the ideas that things could fill the place in her that was so empty. It’s taken her along time to reconcile this, because it was a process of emotional healing. My two middle kids seem to have a healthier handle on this and are actually generous to a fault. My youngest has more of an emptiness issue as she was also like my oldest daughter (older when adopted) and I see in her many of the same issues we’ve had to help deal with. So many try to fill emotional holes with stuff and it sadly never works for any real or long term results. I have nothing against things I enjoy them and love to bless my kids, but there’s the balance of not expecting stuff to make you happy – it can’t. That’s the substance of healthy relationship especially with the Lord. Enjoyed your post, it gave pause to think about what I held valuable and why : )

    1. Lynda,
      I loved reading your comment here about contentment. I visited your blog and you have such a beautiful family. What a blessing you are to them and them to you, I’m sure. I love that you started a journal and then encouraged your daughter to also start one to help work through issues of emotional healing. When I was a teenager and dealing with a lot of difficult things, journaling was always something that helped me to work through my hurts, struggles and emotional holes that always felt so bigger than me. As time went on, I soon realized what I was actually doing was praying….writing out my prayers, my pleas and spilling my heart out to God. What a wonderful thing you’re doing with your daughter. Even today, so many years later, it’s through writing and pouring out to God in this way that help me remember what is important, where my contentment truly comes from.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. You really encouraged me today. Blessings to you,

    1. Oh my, Eva! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I certainly am blessed and encouraged by your words here. You are so kind to leave me a comment like this. Blessings to you.

  3. Megan, this was one of the most beautiful blog posts I have read in a LONG time! You are such a reflection of a Proverbs 31 woman and mother. This is something every parent can benefit from reading and I will be sharing it all over the place! Thank you for the book suggestion, I am going to see if the library has it TODAY 🙂 Love you sweet friend, and thank you for sharing with us all something that will create a beautiful character in our children!

    1. Carlie,
      I am just now seeing your comment here. I am humbled by your loving words and am so thankful for you in my life. You, my dear friend, are among the women I admire most and thank God for as wives and mothers who so lovingly care for and serve their families. I’ve said it before, but I’m praying God makes it possible one day for us to meet in real life.

      Thank you for sharing my Contentment post with others. Hope you were able to find the Fisherman and His Wife book at the library. Love you too.

  4. Your beautiful blog post reminds me of a book I read recently about contentment, Anne Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. I read it at a time when it was hard to give thanks for difficult circumstances in my life, but when I was thankful, it gave me a tranquility inside that was wonderful. Contentment with godliness is great gain (I Timothy 6:6), and if we can teach our kids contentment while they are still young, it will help them the rest of their lives in their pursuit of God rather than stuff.

  5. I was so inspired this! And I love your idea of a thankful journal. When we don’t think about what we should be grateful, we may be thinking of the negative things or the things we do not have. I’m thankful you wrote this.

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