If there’s one thing I want to cultivate in my children aside from keeping their faith to the Lord, it would be the attitude of gratitude. No doubt about that. Why? Because I believe that a grateful heart will always lead you to God’s immeasurable love and consequently, to the most wonderful blessings in life.
Unfortunately, as a mom, I feel like I’m failing in this endeavor. I accept that it is my responsibility to raise them as grateful people. But, I really cannot understand why I seem to be raising unappreciative children. They do acknowledge anything given to them and they sure are delighted from time to time. They say thank you, yes, but, I think that there’s not enough genuine gratitude. Because if they have, they would not be taking for granted the things they have, and they would actually be taking good care of each of their belongings. That’s my goal this year for my kids – instilling the attitude of gratitude.
I always think that it’s wrong to compare children from other children’s situation simply because someone will always be less fortunate and more fortunate than they are (at least in the socioeconomic aspect of life). So, if I compare them to those below the poverty line, who would stop them comparing themselves with those in the upper class. Although, admittedly, guilty ako paminsan minsan. Raise your hand, moms, if you’ve ever said this line – “’Yung ibang bata nga dyan walang makain, ikaw ang dami at ang sarap ng pagkain, ayaw kumain!”
So, reflect some more I did. I wonder how come I was more grateful when I was their age. And, I think I discovered the problem – and, the problem includes me all along.
I grew up seeing how my parents, especially my mom, struggle just to provide us with what we need and to give us what we want. I saw the struggle. I was there. I knew that money doesn’t come easy for them. In fact, at a very early age, I knew that my mom had to pawn her pieces of jewelry so that we can pay school’s extracurricular activities, buy decent meals, have a family computer/Gameboy, tamagochi and Barbie or Ansherina doll. Awareness (which just happened, not forced) of my parents’ hardship makes me appreciate everything and keeps a grateful heart.
Children need to be aware, maybe not of all our troubles or sacrifices, but, of the value of our efforts and hard work. They need to see in us how we value money because money means time away from them and hard work (sleeplessness, sweat, and blood!). So, as much as I want to delay teaching them about money, I think that it is now inevitable to discuss money, so they’d be more grateful. Ayoko silang lumaki na laging pera ang nasa isip, that’s what I’d always say before. But, in so doing, they began to think that everything comes freely without cost.
On Sunday service and in bedtime prayers, I always encourage them to thank God for all the blessings they receive, both material and non-material. And, they do. Every night, I try to ask them what they are grateful for, for the day. To reinforce, now that they do know how to write, I think it’s time that I encourage them to maintain a gratitude journal where they can/should write what they are thankful for. Writing things down leaves etches on our memories and the writer becomes more attentive. Being mindful and reminded of blessings help one stays grateful.
When it comes to giving and sharing, teach them young. With extra clothes and toys, happy naman ako that my kids are very generous. They don’t mind to give away most of their toys which they don’t play much. Although ngayon, I’m teaching them to let go/give away something special to them because that’s the essence of giving. Since they don’t know yet the concept of money, they can’t quite understand or equate things with money pa. Akala pa yata nila, free-flowing lang ang money. Haha. So, when I ask them whether to buy this or just use the money to help feed or educate a less fortunate kid, they’d always choose both. One step at a time, I guess.
If there’s one thing I’m proud of my kids, they know how to say thank you. Still, they should be hearing more often those two magic words in our home, especially from us, parents. They should learn that thank you isn’t only for people who give them something. It could also be for people who’ve done something for them of for things which served them well.
It isn’t always easy to be grateful because of the innate frailties of a human heart. So, there’ll be tough days. But, with constant practice of being grateful, it could easily be part of your daily routine and lifestyle. Once a lifestyle, it will easily form part of your attitude and attitude makes one’s character. So, in bad times, be grateful still. I firmly believe that God’s most fantastic blessings are easily and early received by those with a grateful heart. You know why? Because a grateful heart recognizes blessings.