awwh, thanks.

The story this Monday morning is not mine. It is one of yours. Here’s my reply.


A Mom posted on our Summer of Love gathering spot {code for: our summer of love facebook group} a question about thanks. and gratitude. And when, exactly, should we be, well getting some. getting any. getting a shred of a glimpse of it from our kids for all that we do!?!!? {these were not her words. she was kind. she was gracious. she still wanted answers}.

And this is a great question. A really great question. {as a former high school physics teacher I’m always going to say that. Because it is true. The only bad question? The one not asked.} But this is an especially great question because when we don’t feel like we matter, we do less for the people who matter most.

I see a difference, although the dictionary does not, between thankfulness and gratitude. Saying thanks means we’ve taught them manners. If we do something for them, we want them to be aware enough, and conditioned enough to remember to say thank you. (I’ll often do an exaggerated “wow. Mom. You are ammmmaaaazzzzing. The best mother ever in the universe. Thank you so much!!” if they forget.) Thanks is about the ‘me’. I am thankful that happened for me.

Gratitude is tied to empathy—the ability to see from another side. Gratitude is when take our thanks and apply it beyond ourselves, and step into the shoes of another, see all of what they set aside, or sacrificed, or went above and beyond, for us. Gratitude is about the ‘you’. I am grateful you changed your path in such a way to make something more possible for me.

With those differences, we tend to see thankfulness up through elementary school, then gratitude starts to build as kids enter the 4th stage of empathy (empathy for another’s life condition) in late childhood / early adolescence.

So, to the question. When will we see “one’s children feeling grateful or expressing thankfulness for things parents do/give/provide?” {see? didn’t she phrase it nicely?} When will we fully see it? When our children become parents themselves. I’m kind of kidding, and kind of not. It is really hard work to be a parent –and how hard it is is impossible to see until you are one. Even expectant parents have no idea how hard it will be—it isn’t something we can imagine, no matter how hard our friends try to explain it.

So will our kids ever really get it? nope. But can they grow into gratitude? absolutely.

Do freely. Expect thanks. And grow gratitude.


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The most important part of thanks & gratitude? The first line. The ‘do freely’. If you are doing, doing, doing, and feeling more, more, more angry, bitter, unappreciated–stop. And change what is going on for you. Because we cannot parent for the paltry peanuts of thanks we get. That would never be worth it. And our feelings about parenting cannot be dependent upon what kind of response we get. That would make us crazy. Do freely. Because you want to. Because it is right. Because you see the difference. Because.

And if the ‘do freely’ is feeling anything but free right now? Let me know. I’m always here.

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