Elementary school was out for summer and my two kids and I were excited! We had plans to see free movies, read books, have friends over and swim. Well, they were looking forward to swimming, I was not. I am an avid indoor enthusiast. I love air conditioning, comfortable chairs and easily accessible food. It was a sacrifice for me to plan and carry through with the swim dates.
So, imagine my chagrin the afternoon Anna Beth, Jon and I headed to the pool and their complaining began. “Mom, what took us so long to leave?” “Mom, do we have to listen to that radio station?” “Mom….mom…mom…” Where was a “Thank you mom? We know you hate outdoors and you are taking us swimming. We really appreciate it.”?
I believe gratefulness is a gift from God and talking about it with our children as well as modeling it is a privilege and a necessity. It negates an entitlement mentality and develops joy and humility.
Colossians 3:15b simply states “And be thankful.” There is something about gratitude that takes our eyes off any negative in our situation and causes us to intentionally focus on the positive things that are happening.
That afternoon, my children did not dip their toes in a pool. They did not lay out in the sun and soak in the rays. No, because they expressed an ungrateful heart, I turned the car around and headed home. I felt more disappointed than angry. When we arrived, I took time to look them in the eyes and express my sadness concerning their grumbling and moaning.
They too felt sad by their lack of appreciation (and loss of going to the pool). We agreed that as a consequence, swimming would not be a part of the schedule for 2 weeks. And when we went it was expected that words and attitudes of thankfulness would be expressed.
Recently, my 25 year old daughter Anna Beth and son-in-love, Christopher invited David and me out to eat. They told us it was a dinner to thank us for all we had done for their January wedding. I smiled when we received the invitation. It meant more to me than a simple thank you. I knew we were reaping the rewards of all the years of modeling and emphasizing a grateful heart. It felt great! And by the way, a few days later, a note was on its way to their home to express our thanks for a great dinner with two amazing people!
Sandra B. Stanford, LMHC