From Tami: Thanksgiving Reflection

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, I love the family aspect, and I love the environment. Most of all, though, I love the fact that there is a day devoted simply to gratitude.

On Thanksgiving, we go around the table and everyone says what they are grateful for. We all try to think of some big things, like health and family, and some small things, like a good test grade, a fun playdate, or a favorite food. Some only say one or two “pieces” of gratitude, while others recite long lists.

We try to discuss gratitude other times as well—on Friday nights, at the end of the school- and work-week, we like to go around the table and tell each other our “highs and lows” from the week we just completed.

When we first started our weekly tradition of “highs and lows,” during the active “blending” days, we got a lot of eye rolling. There were also a lot of mumbles, and claims of being unable to think of anything. We continued anyway, and as time went on everyone got more enthusiastic about it. Everyone has something to say now—usually many highs and only a few lows, which is wonderful. We have had our children say some really poignant and unexpected things during “highs and lows,” as well, and have found it to be an excellent starting point for some very important and powerful discussions.

Children are naturally egocentric. It isn’t a bad thing; it is simply a part of being a child. Children have trouble putting themselves in someone else’s shoes sometimes, and it is our job, as parents, to help them learn to do just that.

We are living in an age where we focus very strongly on listening to our children. This is crucial. By listening to our kids, we give them validation, we teach them that feelings are important, and we allow them space to discover who they are. But this is only half of it. We also need to remember that it is important for them to listen to us. It is important that children recognize their parents as people, with wants, needs, desires, and hurts of their own. By sharing who we are and how we feel with our children—in age appropriate ways—we nurture their growing senses of compassion, empathy, and maturity.

Whether it is on Thanksgiving or during the rest of the year, I believe that speaking about gratitude is so important. I think that the act of sharing your feelings and your gratitude is just as important as listening to someone else share theirs. It fosters communication, appreciation, and a sense of belonging. When we tell each other our victories and our worries, when we share pride and dejection, our joys and our solaces, we bond ourselves to each other through a deeper understanding of those that we love.

Also, it helps us find a format to express our appreciation for one another. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, but it can be difficult to properly demonstrate. Having a set time and framework for expressing these feelings can be empowering and enriching for both the speakers and the listeners.

So this Thanksgiving, enjoy your food and family. Enjoy the holiday atmosphere, and football if that’s your thing. But try to create a space where people can honestly tell each other what and whom they are grateful for, and where everyone really listens to one another. And then see if you can carry that through the rest of the year.

Don’t expect anything to change overnight. It is a process. But when there is a family culture of respectful sharing, you can feel it. It is one of the things I am most grateful for, in my own family.

And don’t worry—just because you are grateful for your children, doesn’t mean they can’t still drive you nuts. But when they are making you crazy, and you want to run and hide, just make sure that—even through the fighting and the tears—they know how grateful you are for them.

Because they made you a mom.

Happy Thanksgiving, SuperMoms.


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