One of my biggest parenting goals is to raise children of good strong character. Kids who are willing to stand up for what’s right, for those who are low, and who don’t shy away from life’s challenges. One important aspect of having godly character is being thankful and full of praise.
Manners are an important principle we must teach our children, and saying “please” and “thank you” should be a given. Using good manners are actually one way to show respect and love towards others. As Thanksgiving approaches and we are inundated with deep friend turkey recipes, the top 10 best sweet potato casseroles, and the debate over whether fresh pumpkin is really better than canned pumpkin (hint: noooo!), I want to talk about ways we can show gratitude throughout the days, weeks, and year without actually saying “thanks.”
Appreciation is defined as recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. As opposed to taking someone’s actions for granted or expecting them to do all manner of things, showing appreciation is an attitude of gratitude. It is showing kindness and politeness and respect because of one’s contributions. In adult relationships, there are often godly and right expectations of what actions should occur. That is good and that is normal. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show appreciation when the other person does them.
2. Physical affection
Physical touch is one of the 5 love languages, and is one way to show you care. A touch on the shoulder, pat on the head, hug, and a squeeze of the hand are acknowledgements of something. I recommend responding to your children with “thank you” since you are constantly trying to instil this, but for adults a little physical affection can go a long way. Those who are wired to feel loved by physical touch will appreciate a hug or kiss much more than a simple “thanks.”
Although I am always doing something from sun up to sun down since I have so many small kids, I don’t consider my life busy. In fact, aside from taking care of the kids I do relatively little. Sure, I have some play dates, go to church, and have refreshing weekends away when needed, etc. but I absolutely do not fill up my calendar. I say no almost reflexively. In fact, I often have to make myself say yes just because my default is no.
Giving our children and loved ones our time is a high expression of our appreciation for them. If you are willing to stop reading your book, surfing the internet, or playing a game to sit and talk with another, that speaks volumes. Your children can’t always connect the dots from your busyness (even taking care of their needs) with you serving them. They need time with you spent focusing on them.
4. A moment shared
Eye contact. We should teach our children eye contact when we are having a conversation or expressing something. If your husband brings you a drink and you make eye contact and smile, that’s just as good as – or better – than a thank you. My 3 year old daughter is absolutely the most lovely little girl on the planet. She says the loveliest and most kind things that melt a mama’s heart. I often find myself just staring at her with wet eyes (I’ll admit it, I’m a sap) and a smile just for her. That communicates much more to her than a hurried “thanks for that” while I rush away to do some dishes.
Sacrificing something of ourselves for those we love is the ultimate expression of sacrifice. I’m not talking about martyr territory here, but simple daily sacrifices. I feel convicted as I write this because now, at 31 weeks pregnant, I feel ill equipped to do much of anything around the home. I don’t jump up and run to refill a drink and I linger on the couch and direct the children to tidy without moving. However, this is a season I’m embracing, and I know it’s not normally like this (thanks for the encouragement, Tiffany!) When you give of your time, talents, and energy, and when you are willing to lay down some of your own selfish desires for the good of others, that is gratitude and love in action.
As we move closer to Thanksgiving, I hope we can all think of how we can cultivate attitudes of thankfulness in our own homes that will go far beyond November.
Thankful TraditionsCreate a Thankful Tree with Your Kids from Bare Feet on the Dashboard
A Thankful Display from Hand Made Kids Art
Lego Thanksgiving Activities from Gypsy Road School