Preparations, decorations, and celebrations… Birthdays, the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving can leave us feeling dizzy with more of the same for December!! Yet the title itself and perhaps even the fuss can prompt you to reflect on all that you have received throughout your life. There is value in that, for us as parents and for your children. You become more thankful.
With so many messages pouring into your home from our increasingly media-crazed, techno world, you can quickly become dissatisfied with the way things are. You may wish for more stuff, more time off, a better job, more income, a bigger home, newer car, more opportunities, choices, access….anything other than what currently is. Desire becomes need.
A culture of consumerism can add to your feelings of dissatisfaction with the way things are and the belief that purchases will provide a “quick fix” for all that ails you. Ads are designed to “create a feeling of longing about a deeply human need, then suggest a product that will satisfy that yearning.” Businessman B.E. Puckett said, “It’s our job to make people feel unhappy with what they have.” What is the impact of these messages on your families, on your children? They learn to expect instant gratification and that acquiring material possessions will solve problems.
Recognize your Influence
Parents can counter these messages from the media because they are still the most important models in a child’s life. But when you allow yourself to slip into a spiral of negativity and feeling that you never have enough, your children are observing and modeling your behaviors. Parents often admit that the first thing they lose when they are stressed is their “sense of gratitude.” Children, unable to comprehend the reasons for your dissatisfaction, may blame themselves and feel inadequate or unworthy.
Many experts suggest you spend a moment every day thinking of someone to thank. Gratitude expressed to family, friends, teachers, co-workers, a courteous driver, grocery clerk, bank teller, anyone, can lead you him to feel more appreciative. One expression of gratitude then leads to others. You can engage your children in this exercise and remind them to focus on the good in their lives.
Another option is to keep a gratitude journal. Reflecting upon your day, you can record five specific things for which we are thankful. A periodic review is a good idea so you can remind yourself of all the many ways in which your life is filled.
Remember to Thank Your Children
So often parents get caught up in the efforts of everyday living, and forget to notice the wonder of their unique children. Giving your thanks specifically to your children can have a positive impact on their self-esteem and on your family relationships. Remember to thank them not only for cooperative behavior, but also for who they are. Some examples are:
“I am glad you are my daughter.”
“I appreciate you just because you’re you.”
“I enjoy spending time with you.”
Focus on their capabilities and improvements.
“Thanks for helping with the dishes.”
“Thanks for sharing your toys so willingly.”
“I appreciate how you kept working until it was all cleaned up.”
These thanksgivings can be given verbally or in writing. Napkin notes are especially fun to send in school lunches. Or place sticky notes in drawers, on mirrors, on YOU!!!
Finally, take note on how expressing your thanks makes a difference in your family. Change is not easy. It may take more than a few days to notice. Look for changes in yourself, your child(ren), and in your relationships. Share your observations and feelings. Most importantly, give yourself credit for progress, great or small.
By Pam Nicholson, Certified Parenting Educator
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