One of our jobs as parents is to set and control the climate within our household. If you take good care of yourself, your children probably will too, if you spend all your spare time in front of a screen, your children probably will too. Our own actions influence those of our children, be them positive or negative. As parents we can set the mood for our child’s day – we can choose to be happy, joyous and thankful, or at the other end of the spectrum, we can choose to be miserable, grumpy and perhaps even violent. You “can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration (you) can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal” (Haim Ginott).
One of the things that we try to promote in our family is the use of virtues. I have written a few previous articles about virtues, but I would now like to write about the virtue of thankfulness. We so often get caught up with what we don’t have, that we forget to be grateful for what we do have. It is so important that we recognise that if we have fresh food, warm shelter and love, we have enough. I try constantly to remind my children of this virtue as the world becomes smaller and technology races ahead.
My friend and I were joking the other day that we would sell our houses, pool our money together with a few other friends and move to the middle of nowhere and become self-sufficient – away from iPads, away from television, away from computers, away from processed foods, away from commercialism. Of course, we were only joking, but in my imagination it sounded like a perfect way to raise my family. Of course, I live in the real world and I am thankful for internet connection, technology and pretty things, I am thankful for restaurant meals and take away coffees and I am thankful for my swimming pool and air-conditioning – all of these things are not necessities, but I certainly enjoy them.
One way that we show thankfulness in our house is through our ‘Grateful Jar’. When we have had a really good day or something great has happened we write it down on a piece of paper and pop it into the ‘Grateful Jar’ and at the end of the year during the school holidays, we sit down as a family and read through the thankful moments. This provides our family to connect on many levels, we show thankfulness, we share memories together and we laugh, chat and just spend time together enjoying each other.
If we choose a safe, encouraging, happy climate for our children whilst also throwing around a few virtues, hopefully our children can grow to become happy, virtuous people themselves.