Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gratitude


I had this great plan to write a nice blog post on Thanksgiving, talking about things to be thankful for. However, since we were in Ohio visiting with family, I couldn't very well ignore them all to write a blog post, so I am very late in my Thanksgiving blogging.

Kiki, Boo, and I have lately had many discussions about being grateful and all that it means. Boo has this bad habit of complaining and it is driving me crazy, so I am constantly reminding her to think of the things she does have, instead of what she doesn't. She seems to be a "glass half empty" kind of girl, and I am trying to turn her into a "glass half full" person, but am not having much success. As we were talking the other night before bed, we listed several things we should be grateful for, and took turns. Kiki and Boo said the obvious and listed loved ones and friends, etc. I reminded them how truly lucky we are to have a house to live in, clothes to wear, food to eat, and toys to play with. We talked about "needs" vs. "wants" and how we all should learn to "want" less and just appreciate what we have.

Both girls seemed to get the message but I know it will take a while to sink in. The very next day, Boo was right back to complaining. What can I expect really as she is only 5 years old? I am trying to figure out how she got this way, and did I do something to make her feel like she is always getting the short end of the stick?

I think part of the problem is that when the girls were little, we never wanted either of them to feel left out, so we did many things the same for them. I always bought them each an outfit when I went shopping, whether or not they both needed clothes. Boo's outfit often was the same style, maybe even the exact same as Kiki's. At Christmas and for birthdays, I often bought them the exact same number of gifts, and they were often very similar. Many of the relatives followed suit, probably thinking along the same lines as we did, not wanting either girl to feel slighted.

The problem with this is now Boo EXPECTS everything to be equal and FAIR, even when that is often impossible. I've explained this to her time and time again, that life isn't fair. I often point out their differences and how boring life would be if everyone looked the same, had the same things, etc. Again, she seems to get the message and even gives her own examples, but it doesn't last long.

I think the other issue is that Boo is the younger one, looks up to her older sibling and wants to be everything and do everything her older sister does. She absolutely WORSHIPS the ground Kiki walks on, and I try to remind Kiki of that when she complains Boo is "copying her".

I am a younger sibling and absolutely understand where Boo is coming from. Maybe that is why I tried so hard to treat her the same. I don't ever want either of my girls to feel as if I love one more than the other. Do I love them exactly the same? No. However, I don't favor one sibling over the other, I just love them differently. They have such different personalities there is no way to love them the same.

I am hoping Boo understands this as she grows. That she is unique and is her own person. That she doesn't have to have everything exactly the same as Kiki or anyone else for that matter. I point this out to her as often as I can in a positive way, and I hope it really truly is sinking in.

I've decided to help both girls understand gratitude a bit more by talking each day about things we are thankful for. I've even thought about having them keep a journal and write in it a few times a week, or draw a picture of something they are thankful for. I have also been showing them ways we can help others in our community with the hope that they will understand that life isn't just about them.

1 comment:

Liz said...

When we decided to become parents, one thing that I knew would be personally important to me was to teach my children about charity. I believe that charity teaches gratitude. I had no clue how to go about it without burdening my kids, though. An article that really helped me:

http://www.chickmoorman.com/PAcharityHabit.html

Teagan is not yet 4 but we already talk not so much about what she has but more about what other people don't have. She knows that there are people who need help getting food so we sometimes buy extra food to give to the food pantry at Fishers UMC. She knows that there are kids who don't have a lot of toys so we go through her toys and she picks out items to donate to Goodwill. She certainly doesn't understand it all. But she is learning about giving and that is the part that matter to me. She understands that we are all supposed to help each other.

I can't help on the sibling front... it may be easier for me since I have a boy and a girl. But I also know we already don't give in on that front... when buying shoes for Zach, Teagan doesn't automatically get shoes (even if she asks). But it is good advice and something to watch for!

The holidays are a perfect time to start on gratitude and giving. I would encourage you to shift the focus away from them, though. Less about what they have and being grateful for it- let the gratitude come naturally as they learn charitable giving and come to understand how blessed they are.

Ironically, the security word verification down there is...

blessest