Win. Seriously.

A few weeks ago I read Carinn Jade’s post about gratitude. She has lovely things to say about teaching children to think about their lives in perspective, to teach ourselves to find the bright side by living in thoughtful meditations on gratitude.

After reading it, I decided I’m a terrible parent appreciated the reminder that I should be focusing the family on gratitude. We have always, every night, talked about what each person’s favorite and most challenging parts of the day were. We’ve used it as a way to learn evaluative skills and to hear how other people address challenges.

But other than Thanksgiving, we don’t spend a lot of time using the words grateful and thankful. I’m rather embarrassed about that, because I know full well that reflecting upon that which makes life wonderful creates a cycle in which gratitude makes us see events and people in a better light, which makes us more grateful. I’ve been reading Secrets of Successful Families and Raising Happiness, and both point me in the same direction Jade’s post did: get everyone in the family thinking about life’s gifts, and appreciate them together. It helps.

So we started. I intended to circle the gratitude wagons at dinner, but meals are a reasonably raucous time of “please don’t call each other buttface,” and “please don’t call each other poopface, either,” and “please eat the food or leave it on the plate; food is not a toy,” and “yes, you can have more, but please finish what you have first,” and “did you say that to make him feel good?”, “dear gawd am I ever going to eat more than two bites without someone asking me for something?” moments.

But I finally remembered to ask what the boys are grateful for as we walked to school.

I told them I am grateful I have three wonderful guys in my house to see every day.

Peanut, who is seven, said he is grateful for friends.

Butter, the three-year-old, said he is grateful for cake. If I’d thought of it, I might have started there, too.

I said I am grateful for the way Spring smells and feels and shines.

Peanut said he is grateful that we have enough money to live in a house.

Butter said he doesn’t want to do this any more.

I said I’m grateful we have so much wonderful family to visit and play with.

Peanut said he’s grateful for tigers and leopards and he wants to try to save them.

I judge myself pretty harshly, readers, about the job I’m doing parenting because my kids fight a lot and Spouse and I are not patient enough. But it seems to me that if my seven year old is grateful for friends, his home, and his place in the world, I’m doing an okay job. A genuinely okay job.

And I’m grateful for that.

12 thoughts on “Win. Seriously.

  1. Whoa, worlds collide. I loved that post too and I started doing gratitude with my kids then (after realizing what a spiritually stunted mother-person I am). Sadie loves to be grateful for her dolls– all 11 of them in turn. My son is grateful for Spiderman and hair. It’s now my favorite part of bedtime– we list our gratitudes. I go on and on and then Sadie says, “What you said, Mom. That’s my gratitude too.” I don’t care if she piggybacks…better that she piggy backs on gratitude then on my negativity and cynicism, martyrdom and terror, right?

  2. What a wonderful post!!! You’ve inspired me to do this same thing with my two boys and husband. While we also go through the “favorite part” of our days, we don’t use the words thankful or grateful either. I just loved this. I’m going to start today!!!! Thank you:)

    • Thank Carinn. She made me do it. ;-)
      So now we have favorite moment, least favorite moment at dinner; gratitude on the way home from school; family meetings each week with what worked for the family and what didn’t. At this rate my kids are gonna be more self realize-y at 10 than I have been my whole life.

  3. It’s times when you hear the words spoken by all the Peanuts in the world that make growing up with children a wonderful thing…and suddenly all the other stuff seems pretty unimportant.

    You did good, Mom!

    • Thanks, Mrs. P. He’s a pretty introspective guy. Except when his brother flips his switch. Then he doesn’t remember about homelessness and kids who don’t get enough to eat and empathy for endangered species.

      And neither do I.

  4. I missed Carinn’s post, so thanks for pointing it out – I love it, and this. I have tried to introduce the gratitude concept, but not consistently and I don’t think very successfully. Thanks for the inspiration and tips to try again – we just passed the 5th birthday, which is what got me thinking we have a gratefulness void. Darn birthdays bring out the worst sometimes. ;)

    • We’re kindred spirits, BananaWheels. May I play the reasonable one today (rare role for me) and say that an opportunity to notice a void is an opportunity to start filling it. So this post is a win for you, too!
      Yay, BananaWheels is going to serve up some gratitude with her snacks!

  5. Holy cow am i grateful for this post. I had a really awful weekend that is bleeding far into the week. And the instant before I saw your tweet I just chucked the cookies I bought my kids two minutes earlier in a fit of rage because they are so incredibly spoiled, demanding and ungrateful. So thank you…for this beautiful post and the reminder that gratitude is a daily practice for all of us.

    • Dude, if you have cookies you need to discard because your kids are being jerks, I’ll send my address.


      I’ve been trying to move my mindfulness into a constant patter of “They are the children, you are the adult…they are the children, you are the adult.”

      Maybe it’ll work soon.

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