Often, in an earnest effort to be a good and conscientious parent, we focus on our kids’ weaknesses. We spend a lot of our time weeding the metaphorical garden. “Get up earlier.” “Don’t stay out so late.” “Pick up your clothes.” “Chew with your mouth shut.” “No, you can’t have that i phone.” “Clear the dishwasher.” “You should socialize more.” “Why are you out so much?” “Sit up straight when you do your homework.”

Who else puts their head down and weeds, and plucks, and reminds, and picks, and pulls, and sees all that is wrong? Guilty as charged!

Shall we add gratefulness to our parenting tool box this holiday season? I wonder if we don’t practice gratefulness because we are afraid it will take away our edge. We will become less vigilant and then we’ll MISS something and our kids will be BROKEN and it will be OUR FAULT. 

Newsflash – They are all gonna be broken, and some of it will be our fault – get comfy in that knowledge. The edge, the vigilance won’t keep you safe from this humbling reality.

Gratefulness though, gratefulness will change our tone of voice to one of compassion, love and understanding. It won’t make us weak and lazy and underachievers. Here is some grateful stuff I hear from parents, and it makes my heart melt, “My kid is hilarious and shows me the silliest YouTube videos that brighten my day.” “Our child is socially conscious about political issues and puts her heart and soul into making the world a better place with her strong opinions and impassioned speeches.” “He is compassionate, sensitive and kind, always willing to share toys and a hug.”  “She brings energy and exuberance to everything she does.”

The noticing, the being grateful for the gifts our children naturally have, makes the climate in our house more temperate, more comfortable.  Again, I’m not saying this is the ONLY parenting tool, in all cases be grateful and you will have the answers – no, I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is that gratefulness is a quiet and surprising energy source.  It’s a renewable energy! We can wake up every day and list a few things to be grateful for. This practice will probably make us less anxious, more understanding, give us a teaspoon more patience,  and all around help us get through the day. That’s what it’s all about, getting through the day with a little more patience, love, and compassion.

* Adapted from 2015 Glover Park Gazette – Parenting in the Park, Why Grateful?