Monday, May 7, 2012

Fostering Gratitude

How does one foster gratitude?

I have been wondering about similar questions to these over the weekend, this is what my children's School Principal wrote in the school newsletter...

"...Having been in Manila three times now I have begun to ask myself some questions which I will share with you.
• What do we achieve when we give our kids everything and expect nothing in return?
• What happens to the hearts of children from whom nothing is withheld?
• What happens to children who have everything that life can offer yet are never grateful, and have no realisation of what it’s like in most of the poor countries of the world...?" Sue Skuthorpe.

I wasn't rich growing up, I was a farmer's daughter. My parents left the farm to give us kids a better life, a life full of opportunities that my parents didn't get. So they sold up and we moved to the big smoke.

They both took a while to find regular steady work, and we had to include a move from Far North Queensland, to the Southern parts because of health reasons, which delayed finding regular income longer.

I look back on my childhood as always doing without, it took years for my parents to save up, we had no kitchen benches or stove for 6 years. and I was never so happy as when I finally got a room all to myself  I was in grade 8. It had no floor or wall coverings, but to this day I love the smell of plaster because it means that good new things are on their way.

Like all kids of today, mine would like 3 brands of gaming consoles, all the iThingy's you can mention, and a swingset, cubbyhouse, tenniscourt, pool, soccer oval, and flying fox in the back yard. Sadly they have a trampoline, rope swing, and several fruit trees outside, and only a PS2, and Wii inside, oh and the one iThingy for the child - he bought himself. His friends are gobsmacked that I MADE him wait for it, and have the audacity to remove it as a privilege when he's grounded. After all he paid for it, it's his, he should be able to play on it anytime right?? Errr No.

I'm not sure that you can teach gratitude. You can set an example, my motto is the phrase I coined "Gratitude is the Attitude", but ultimately I think this is something to learn from life, from going without something or someone.  Unless you have been without something, and had to work hard for the "things" in your life do you  learn how to be grateful for them? Similarly, for the good people in your life, if you haven't been hurt how do you know to value the wonderful people in your life? How do you know who is special? Do we become cold or more loving if we have better living standards than other people? If we give everything and expect nothing from our kids, how will they turn out? More loving? More giving, sharing realising that they have it all, all by themselves?

So my kids get rewarded for good behaviour, grounded (ie removal of favourite things) for bad behaviour, they work for their money - just like in the real world...

Let's hope I'm getting the balance right...