One of the biggest disappointments I see in parents eyes is when the child shows no signs of gratitude for everything that the parents are doing for them. “I wake up early in the morning to cook lunch for his school.Forget thank you,he doesn’t even eat it “. “ I don’t have a nice suit to wear it functions.I saved money so she can go to her singing classes. Now she tells me I don’t care for her ? “ “my wife my in-laws everyone fought with me that I shouldn’t buy my son a new phone.But I did for his happiness.now I ask him to leave the phone,just during exams,and he’s FIGHTING with me ? forget acknowledging what I did for him , he can’t even talk to me nicely ? “. “I work all day for these children.I cook for them,clean their room,drop them to school, pick them up, take them to shopping… and I ask them to do one thing for me and they just say no,just like that.Why should I have to fight every time I need to get something done ?“. “Whenever he needs something,becomes all sweet and chatty,Papa this ! Papa that ! but after the need is fulfilled,doesn’t even look at me.I come home from work and he can’t even sit with me for 10 minutes ? am I just a money machine for him ? “
What’s common in these examples ? parents do so much for the children,but the child shows no acknowledgement,neither through their words,nor actions.And then how do parents deal with this ? they’ll sulk ,they’ll fight,they try to ignore,they actually don’t know much about what to do. So one obvious solution to this could be,why not tell the child everything you’re doing for them ? but many parents think why should we have to say something, can’t they eat themselves ? I mean if I have to ask them and then they do something nice then it’s of no value.We don’t want to beg for their attention and care.They should do it themselves .Okay ,you won’t ask,they’re not doing it on their own.What’s the solution then ? keep getting disappointed and give up ? Well,not so soon I have some suggestions.
If I could tell you, really I mean it, the single most important psychological trait or state, which can contribute to individual and interpersonal well-being,it would be “GRATITUDE“. If you want to be happy yourself,if you want a happy child,and if you want happy relationships ,there’s probably nothing more important than gratefulness or thankfulness.And I speak of this from deep personal experiences. This has transformed my experience of relationships and life .You teach your children how to use the bathroom,you teach them language,you teach them how to count,you should teach them how to be
grateful to people as well.It’s on that level.It’s that important.It’s an absolute tragedy that we don’t even know how enormously important this is,and we just hope that the child will develop gratitude on their own.It is a tragedy that we virtually leave it to luck.Would you do the same thing for maths ? “ Oh ! percentages and fractions.Why should we have to teach ? let her learn on her own“.
If you ask me the secrets to happiness,really,the first thing that comes to my mind,is always gratitude. so please make it part of your parenting curriculum.And how to do this ? I’ll give you some ideas.
First,learn to be grateful yourself.If you can’t,don’t even try teaching them.Children just like any adult are very good at spotting hypocrisy.In your house,talk about how grateful you are to your own parents.Despite the conflicts.Show it through your actions,that,“my relationship with your grandparents may not be perfect,but I am grateful to them,for A,B,C,D and E“.
Second,interpersonal gratitude is partly dependent on empathy.Unless they actually know the cost you are paying for their lives unless they can look at your difficulties from your perspective,they won’t actually understand the depth of what you are going through for them .So,you’ll have to tell them very explicitly if you woke up too early for them and felt drowsy the whole day,if you are suppressing your own desires to save money for them,if you’re fighting with other people to defend them,if you are sacrificing your leisure time for their tasks,talk about it.Talk not just about what you’re doing,but also about what you’re going through inside.
Basically,you’ll have to educate them about the personal cost you’re paying for their sake .This is not about tooting your own horn this is about filling their blind spots,this is about presenting a better reality to them.This is education.But,don’t do it with an attitude that you’re doing them a favor by giving them birth and raising them. That attitude is not wise,because despite everything you’re doing for them ,you started a family for YOURSELF,because you thought creating a family is a good way to live life. Your child never came to you and said : “mom and dad,please give me birth“ . So when you teach them gratitude don’t sound like the benefit is one-sided.You are also deriving the satisfaction of being a parent,through them,So keep your patronizing and condescension in check.And once they understand the efforts you are making for them, once they have some empathy with your struggles, that will then become the basis for their thankfulness towards you.
Finally,if you want them to notice your efforts on their own.That also needs to be executed systematically.Sit down with them every day,or alternate day,or at least every Sunday,and ask them in the past one week , “ what are the things that you are thankful for towards me and your dad ?“ .This sounds like an odd question,as if you are forcefully trying to get compliments .But remember this is notabout you,this is about them.They need to sit and think.It would be best if schools could do this,but they don’t.It’s not part of the syllabus,so you’ll have to do it yourself.Literally make them write the things that they are gratefull for, towards you on a piece of paper.Make it concrete.Initially,it might seem very synthetic and awkward,but gradually it will normalize and it’ll sink in.
In summary,make gratitude the religion of the house.Practice it yourself teach it to your children consistently.