Parenting Gratitude:

My fears here may be baseless. I have, on occasion, grounded my children from various “conveniences.” This is only a partial view of my parental reflections. It was originally written with my post Gratitude. I feel it needs refinement, so I didn’t post it at the time. I’ve decided to look to the blog community to suggest refinements. So, please feel free to comment (as always).

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I try, as a mother, to teach my children. I want to teach them charity, I think gratitude has to come first, though. I want them to be aware of their great fortune.
I struggle though, with the contrasts that I hear so often. How do I teach my children to reach beyond, compare and contrast gratitude? How do I teach them to be authentically grateful for what they have? I don’t want them to be grateful that they aren’t “deprived like other people.” I want them to be awed and brimming with wonder, that what they have is so good.
I hope that I set that example. It’s difficult not to use comparisons though while they are young and looking for explanations. It is especially difficult because I want them to know that there is a world out there, with people who have less. At the same time, I don’t want them to feel guilt or shame for having. How do I find that balance?
In some ways, the conveniences of the “first world,” complicate the lesson.
I have the darnedest time convincing the Girl to practice handwriting. I have to explain to the Boy that we have the money for a new video game, but we aren’t buying it.  We don’t need to buy every sweet and salty treat in the store….
Somehow teaching them to say “thank you” doesn’t seem like enough. Grounding them from conveniences, when they lack gratitude is one possibility.  I worry that the lesson would be lost in resentment, frustration and the murky waters of a child’s concept of fair. I don’t want them to ask themselves “why don’t I deserve?” And yet, I don’t want them to feel entitled either.
I’m afraid that responding to a lack of gratitude by taking away privileges undermines, or contradicts, the example of graciousness I want to set. That it sets them up to treat others only in the way they feel others have “earned.” In spite of seeming a fair lesson, does it set a tone of “tit for tat”?

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