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.