Welcome to the November 2012 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Gratitude and Traditions
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about gratitude and traditions by sharing what they are grateful for, how they share gratitude with their children, or about traditions they have with their families. The Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival will be taking a break in December, but we hope you will join us for the great line up of themes we have for 2013!
The holiday season always has me reflecting on the blessings in my life. Now that I have been deeply entrenched in this mothering gig for 3 years, I have been giving a lot of thought to gratitude and how I want to instill that in Brody. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Gratitude is so much more than “manners.” It is so much deeper than saying thank you or even being thankful for something.
I was in the soap studio churning out holiday orders last week when I had an “aha moment.” It occurred to me that there is a link between giving and cultivating gratitude. When you are constantly on the receiving end, gratitude gets a little lost in translation. Children by nature are constantly on the receiving end so how can you help them appreciate and be grateful for the people, places, and things in their lives.
I started to come up with some ideas on how I could show Brody what true gratitude looks like so that he can better understand it. As most parents know, modeling something is always much more effective than explaining something. This is so true for a complex and somewhat abstract idea like gratitude.
Brody is really involved in my Bar-For-Bar program. Not only does he help me make soaps (heh – his version of making soaps looks a lot different than mine) but I always include him when I am packaging up soaps for donation. He has also come with me to our local woman’s shelters. So he already has the seeds planted for what giving looks like. However, I am not sure that he really understands the whole gratitude aspect. I mean, he isn’t in the shower with these women watching their faces light up when they are using my soaps!
I thought that this holiday season would be a perfect time to get him involved with cultivating his own gratitude. December 1st marks the first day of Advent. This year we have decided to put a giving back spin on the traditional Advent Calendar. First our family of three sat down together and thought up 25 actions that we could do for others (others meaning humankind, the Earth and animals). I thought at first my husband and I would have to come up with all of the ideas, so not true. Brody jumped right in. He was so excited to come up with his own ideas of giving back. Two of his favorite ideas were bringing in our neighbors trash cans and making pinecone bird feeders for our bird friends that happen upon our favorite walk. Brody has been so excited for Advent to start so he can begin with our giving back days. I truly believe that teaching gratitude is the biggest gift that I could ever give my son.
I also thought that I would start incorporating a three-day gratitude challenge every month for the next year. I am not sure how this will play out in its entirety but here is my idea.
Once per month, for three days, we will pick an aspect of our lives to downsize in a big way. Perhaps this will be putting away 90% of Brody’s toys. Maybe it will be not turning on electricity for a day. It might even be not using our car. Basically, I want to take one aspect of our lives that we kind of take for granted and get rid of it so we can all appreciate it more.
I think that this will have a bigger impact on Brody than doing things like donating old clothes or volunteering somewhere. When he has to live without some of the things or without doing some of things we typically do, I think he will better understand just how blessed he is. And perhaps then, the idea of gratitude will begin to make more sense.
What do you all think? Am I nuts to try this? Does it sound like an awesome idea? How do you cultivate gratitude in your children?
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Counting My Blessings — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama expresses the importance of reflecting daily on all of her blessings, a ritual she shares with her daughter. Jennifer also shares a few things that she is most grateful for. .
- Thanksgiving — It really is true that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Vicky at Single Mother Ahoy had no choice but to be thankful for all the things that had a good go at finishing her off this year!
- My little gratitude list — Stone Age Parent provides a summary list of all that she is grateful for in her life, including her son, her family, her home, her friends and her country.
- Baking Bread and Nurturing Wonder— Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares her way of keeping family traditions alive and nurturing a sense of wonder and thankfulness for food through preparing homemade bread during the Holidays.
- Going Inside for the Winter Holidays — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children reflects that going inside, both physically and figuratively, allows her family to enjoy the winter season in peace and reflection with plenty of time for appreciation of the most important people in her life.
- Traditions — Sustainable Mum discusses the difficulty of establishing traditions that were important in her own childhood for her own children.
- Giving thanks for parenthood — Can we truly give thanks for both the darkness and the light on our parenting journey? Shonnie from Heart-Led Parenting shares her perspective on how gratitude for all that life offers is possible and essential.
- A Tree for the Birds— Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras shares her family’s new tradition of skipping a traditional Christmas tree in favor of one in the yard.
- Cultivating Gratitude In Children — Lindy at Poppy Soap Co. shares her unique plan for helping her son understand just how blessed they are as a family.
- Are You Truly Grateful — Laura at Authentic Parenting ponders about the ramifications of gratitude as a characteristic.
- Maintaining Traditions Through Family Changes — Jenn from Monkey Butt Junction talks about how changes in her family have led to changing traditions.