Make it automatic. While some parents may be uncomfortable with how unnatural the forced “thank yous” of young children seem, most kids need hundreds of reminders to say “thank you” before they start doing so naturally. Parents shouldn’t be afraid that a prompted “thank you” has less value than a spontaneous one—the prompts will lead to the spontaneous, just as parents can eventually let go of the bike and the child rides away without tipping over.
“It’s a slow process, like making sure they drink all their milk at dinner or unconsciously buckle their seat belts in the car,” says Nancy, a mother of a 7- and 10-year-old. “But we’re trying to ingrain in them that it’s an automatic response for anything anyone does for them.”
It’s not all about me. Capuchin Franciscan Father Mike Bertram, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Milwaukee, notes that an important aspect of gratitude is humility. “One element of gratitude that sometimes escapes us is that it calls us to humility, too. It calls us to be humble that God has blessed us with good fortune, humble that for whatever we are grateful, we have been visited by God,” he says. “We may think that we have been the makers of our good fortune, while humble gratitude brings us to remember that all good things—in us and through us—come from God. It is not of our own making at its deepest roots.”
By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2013 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.
We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.
And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.