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Grateful

January 21, 2008

grate·fuladjective

1. warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful: I am grateful to you for your help.
2. expressing or actuated by gratitude: a grateful letter.
3. pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome; refreshing: a grateful breeze.

How do we teach our children to be grateful, to appreciate how fortunate they really are?  It’s something I as a parent struggle with each and every day.  How can you make a child understand that she is blessed, that she has so much to be grateful for, and it’s her responsibility to help others who are less fortunate, while still remembering how lucky she truly is. 

Last week, a gentleman from Kenya came to Little IT’s elementary school to talk about children living in the slums of Nairobi attending a school that he is helping to support.  Ken Okoth is currently teaching at a prep school in Virigina, but came from the very place that he is currently helping to support.  He has started a “Children of Kibera” Foundation to support these children and was speaking at schools in our area to show how these kids can help others. 

How did I learn about this special assembly at school?  Not through Little IT, but an article in the paper.   First, I wish there had been more communication in advance between the school and parents about this, so we could help reinforce the message of helping others who are less fortunate.  Second, that this seemed not to register on Little’s radar was even more disturbing.  Every day we talk about what she did at school.  Sometimes I have to pry, but I always hear something.  But about this, I hear nothing. 

The last thing I want to have around is a spoiled child.  She’s far from that, but I still think there is a sense of entitlement that exists that perhaps I help perpetuate.  She’s entitled to an allowance, but rarely remembers to ask for it.  We’re starting a “chore chart” so she can earn points towards a Wii game.  She helps all the time, especially when it comes to her brother.  But for her to understand that many kids throughout the world don’t have what she takes for granted is hard for me to deal with. 

Maybe I’m overreacting about this.  Picking up the paper and reading about it on MLK Day, when the lesson of the day is kindness and compassion towards others was more of a juxtaposition than I was prepared for, I guess. 

The students at the school are having a book sale to benefit the Red Rose School.  Kids bring in old books and sell them to other kids, similar to what they did to support Katrina and Tsunami kids.  Little IT definitely wants to help out, and I will be checking out the web links to the school and Ken’s blog to learn about other ways we can help these kids.  Issues like this must seem so far away to truly impact the kids but I’m glad they’re thinking more in these terms.  In the meantime, throttling back on treats could work.  I sometimes feel I am more than giving with her, mostly because of the nut thing – she’s not likely to get chocolate or candy for a treat, and often has to miss out on the simple things of childhood, like birthday cake, all due to allergy concerns.  She doesn’t seem to have much more than other kids her age but would “less” be any better for her sense of gratitude?   

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2008 1:32 pm

    I have lots of opinions about this. Not because I have children, but because I see children who sit on both sides of this fence – grateful kids and kids running around with a sense of entitlement like no other. More than anything, I think for families like yours, teaching gratitude is a generational challenge. I grew up in a house where my mom and dad made the choice for mom to stay at home. They also elected to send all 3 of us to parochial schools K-12 and me to a private college. We weren’t rich so many, many sacrifices came as a result of these decisions including me not getting lots of stuff – there was always food on the table and clothes on the backs and books to read but we didn’t eat out very much or take extravagant vacations, and I only got really nice things on special occasions. My mom was also a savvy finance manager. I so clearly remember that she had one of those little clickers to add up the grocery bill as she shopped. So when I finally did get an Atari for Christmas, I was beyond ecstatic and grateful. Fast forward some 30+ years. Many households have both parents working thus allotting more resources and this is all around families at home, at school, on the bus, at the mall etc. so it’s not about how you are raising your kids so much as it’s parents have to work twice as hard to teach gratitude since they aren’t inherent in the general structure for some. Granted I am generalizing about the middle and upper middle class. Being poor is a completely different thing. But I think saying someone is middle to upper middle class today means something totally different than it did in 1975. I’m single, have a good job and I even find myself taking the things I have and can buy for granted – my parents had way less at my age than I do now – I felt sort of disgusted as I was cleaning closets out this weekend of clothes and shoes. Anyway, I think you are thinking the right things and doing the right things – in my opinion of course. For what it’s worth, from the time I have spent with Little IT I have never once though she was lacking in the gratitude department – quite the opposite. I think what the school did was super but it can be hard for kids to really relate to things going on so far away from them geographically.

  2. January 26, 2008 1:34 am

    awesome definition

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