First, the cure for ingratitude and entitlement is the gospel.
We don’t simply want our kids to “buck up,” but we want them to be sanctified by the Spirit of God.
You see, the gospel cures our entitlement syndrome by reminding us that Jesus is enough. It reverses the curse of the Garden. It answers Satan’s lie about God by pointing to a bloody cross and a suffering Savior.
It says: God did provide all you need. God is your Father. Anything else you think you need is a cheap, worthless, soul-crushing substitute.
Second, the gospel nurtures in us a healthy sense of justice.
You see, there are imbalances in the world, but rather than looking inward at what we think we lack, God’s love teaches us to look outward at the injustice in the world. As members of Christ’s kingdom, we now become part of His plan to heal and restore.
We stop looking at our own lives and saying, “It’s not fair,” and we start looking at others, who are suffering under the weight of the Fall and we devote our lives to getting involved in alleviating injustice around us. When give up our own entitlement for the sake of others, we become a small window into the Kingdom to come, where Christ will fully restore all things.
Third, resisting ingratitude early on helps us avoid unnecessary disappointment and sorrow later in life.
This is not to dismiss genuine, real suffering and pain endured by so many people. However, there is much in the way of trial and hardship that is brought on simply by unrealistic expectations of what God is supposed to give us in this life.
The entitlement mentality is never happy, always looking for what is mine. This is a fruitless, miserable pursuit.
But a gospel-centered gratitude that recognizes God as Father and giver of good gifts helps us enjoy the blessings we already have, to revel in the grace we possess rather than wishing for things we think we are owed. In a sense, it’s the reverse prosperity gospel.
In summary: Don’t let your kids say the phrase, “It’s not fair” about their own situation. It’s the phrase that pays in misery and alienation from God.