With the Thanksgiving season upon us, it is a great time to teach our children about gratitude and being thankful for what we have. We can bring a new perspective to the holidays.
As I speak in front of groups, teach parenting classes and work with families, I see a huge array of challenges that families go through all year long. Have you ever noticed that when you look at someone else’s challenges, suddenly yours become not as big? Do you find yourself grateful that you have your challenge, instead of theirs? I have seen that time and time again and have experienced it myself.
During this Thanksgiving season, you may want to take a few moments to sit down with your children over hot cocoa, eggnog or another yummy treat and open a conversation about what might have been challenging for them this year. It may be school, a friendship or something at home. Depending on their age, they can draw a picture, write it on a piece of paper or simply state what it is. Take the time to listen to what they say. Take the time to feel what they feel and to empathize and have compassion for them. This is a building block in their life, no matter what age they are at. Your attention to what is happening is crucial.
You may want to then take a moment to talk about challenges that other people have that your family does not have. It may be lack of food, not having a dry, warm place to sleep every night, or not having friends or family to be with during the holidays. What do you have that someone else might not have? Ask your children. Begin a conversation. Be sure not to minimize their experiences shared. You are attempting to broaden their perspective.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for spending extra time together. And, it’s a great time to expand our children’s perspective on the world as it relates to them. It takes great strength to get through hard times. That strength as a family comes in the quality time that we spend together … throughout the year.
Focus on nurturing, empathizing, acknowledging and expressing compassion with and for your children. Modeling these qualities will give your children emotional skills that will be useful their entire lives. Giving them love and understanding when things are hard for them (even when, and especially if, what they are going through seems small to us) will go far in creating a deep bond, a strong connection and trust. These are key elements to creating a healthy parent-child relationship.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Remember to take time to enjoy those sweet little moments. They are the memories you and your children will have later. If you miss those moments, you are missing a lot.