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Encouragement Article

The Struggling With Teaching Gratitude

Close to this time of gifts, parties, holiday meals, snacks about the house, and a general season of excess. It is a good time to translate the idea of gratitude to ourselves and our families.


Father and son discussion

It is an interesting situation to be a parent in the 21st century. Most of us do not raise our children on a farm or ranch. Our children are not required to work the fields and or with livestock. Most of us do not cultivate produce as the sole means of our nutrition. Most of us do not have to hunt for the sole purpose of placing food on the table. Working to live is not the moniker of life in this day and age.


I do not sit on the knowledge of this era lightly. We are given so much more freedom with our time. So much can be allowed for recreation, art, creation, travel, and experience versus work to sustain and survive. I truly wish America as a populace gave more time and actionable thanks for this privilege.


It brings me to my lead into this encouragement. Gratitude is something I believe in deeply. We have been given a gift to live in this time, place, and country. I am a firm believer in the perspective of gratitude. For just fifty years prior, it was not like this. Right now in many other countries, it is not like this for millions of people. 


As a parent, as a couple, my wife and I want to give our children the best. We want them to be dressed well, eating good food, and to have the toys and items that relate to their personalities. We want to travel with them, show them experiences around the country and the world. I want them to have a good life.


This takes effort, time, and of course money to make these things happen on a regular basis. There are many parents that lack the resources to provide quality food to their children, let alone expensive toys and vacations. Couples, and/or unfortunately single parents, must battle daily to sustain even in this time of excess. What their children do not get, what they do not experience can alter how they grow and how they can interact with the world around them. On the other side of the coin, the children born into well off families may grow to think they are better than those around them, that the constant excess is what they are owed and how the world works.


To me it is a battle between providing the best I can for my children, but I remain guarded at creating spoiled kids that just expect the finer things as that is what comes to their doorstep often. 


Father and Son fishing

All this comes back to my internal effort of being thankful for what I was given as a child. To be thankful for the humility, hard work and constant dedication of my father and mother toward my upbringing. I have attempted to translate their example to my life as a father. I am thankful for my beautiful wife, I am thankful for the gift of my healthy, happy children.


My wife and I as parents have done our best to interpret our adult understanding of this gratitude to our kids as they have grown. I of course do not want to dump the world's burdens and trials onto my tiny minds. They deserve a time of naivety and blissful ignorance of Hamas and Israel. About Russian and Ukraine, about world conflict and harm we humans cause on another. It will all come in time, I have no doubt. 


In this effort we teach our kids manners, we teach our kids to be thankful for gifts given. We are open that things cost money. That it is not easy to replace certain items when they are broken or lost. We are honest that trips cost, but we do our best not to obsess about it or use it as a guilt ploy. We talk about homelessness, children without parents, different countries that do not have the luxuries we enjoy. I want them to know there are differences in what they receive and what other kids may not. We discuss history, different times of human living. Current geographic differences, homeless shelters and food banks for examples of different living. 


In an effort to create a spirit of giving my wife enacted a Christmas tradition where we take the kids separately to choose as a gift for their siblings and their parents. Watching their faces when their chosen gifts are opened is a fun treat on Christmas morning. 


Take the time to be thankful for yourselves gents. Take the time to be thankful for your spouse. Give thanks for your trike motors, ankle biters, curtain climbers of your homes. As they grow, teach them to be grateful for what they receive and what is around them. Growing with a perspective of gratitude in all things will improve their interaction with the world around them. 


Happy new year gentleman. I hope it finds you and yours very well.


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