Teach Your Children to be Grateful with a Family Gratitude Journal

gratitude journal pic monkeyBy Ali Katz

I feel lucky every day. There are the obvious reasons like my two healthy, beautiful boys, my supportive and loving husband, and my cozy, comfortable house that I adore every time I walk in the door.

Then there are the less obvious things like having exact change in my wallet at a cash register, finding boyfriend jeans that are so soft they feel like pajamas, and a great morning run.

The list goes on and on, some big items and some more insignificant: my wonderful family and friends, losing myself in a great book, and getting that perfect family picture where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. Rich dark chocolate, dates with my husband, and a long phone call with my best friend. Seeing my kids’ faces in carpool and knowing that I will be hugging them momentarily, homemade pasta and an amazing blowout that lasts for days.

Memories are treasures, even the horribly embarrassing ones that I can’t even bring myself to write about yet. My life is comprised of the laughter and fun I have had in my first 37 years, and the hard times that have made me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t be as resilient and strong without learning how to navigate some really difficult situations and still hold my head up high.

I am constantly striving to create opportunities where my kids feel gratitude. Of course they have learned to say “thank you” when they receive a gift, but what I am going for is from the heart thanks for just the little things. I know that children are egocentric, and I don’t begrudge them those precious years where it is all about them. However, as they grow I pray that every year brings them a deeper understanding of the world around them, how they fit into it, and how they can make it a better place. As a mom I can only hope that they do become aware of all the insignificant wonders of the world that make life so sweet. You can look for problems, or find joy, and I hope with all my heart that their outlooks on life steer them in the direction of joy at every turn. And of course they will face hardships. I wish I could shield them from every heartache, but I wouldn’t be doing them any favors. My goal is for them to learn that difficult situations can teach you lessons without hardening you.

As a parent I think that we have to lead by example, take responsibility, and help our children form certain habits. Being grateful may take some practice for the little ones in our families. With this belief in mind, I started a Family Gratitude Journal. This small notebook  sits on our kitchen table with a pen. Every night at dinner we all write a quick note in it marking something we are grateful for that day. It could be a fun playdate, liking the meal, or not having any homework. It could be gratitude for a lovely family walk (that would be mine!) or scoring a goal at practice.

Getting started is super easy, and I know you will feel great about encouraging your family to notice the little pleasures of every day life. This is also something you can keep private, or do with a spouse. Keep it next to your bed if that works for you, and jot down one tidbit at the end of the day.

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Ali Katz, a native of Philadelphia, has lived in Houston for fifteen years. She enjoys reading, cooking, running and yoga, in addition to spending as much time as possible with her husband and two young sons. Ali started the website Daughter-in-Law Diaries with the intention of sharing her personal journey, and to help other daughters-in-law strengthen the bond and improve the relationship they have with their own 
mother-in-law. Please visit Ali online at www.daughterinlawdiaries.com

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