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Mary Beth Sammons (top) is an award-winning journalist who writes about family life. Nina Lesowitz (bottom) is an author who works with literacy organizations. Read more »
Recently, while attending a baby shower, one of the gifts to the soon-to-be new mom were note cards that accompanied each receiving blanket and basket of rattles, wipes and new baby gear, each offering sage advice from guests - the seasoned moms present. The tips ranged from "never let your kids sleep in your bed," to "take advantage of relatives wanting to babysit and take a break for yourself."
But, the resounding theme was to embrace the small,
special everyday moments between parent and child. Learn to be grateful for the simple pleasures, and parenting can be a much richer and fulfilling experience.
As "seasoned moms" (Nina has two daughters and Mary Beth has two daughters and a son), we have come to learn how to reduce stress and enjoy parenting when we remember not to sweat the small stuff, and instead practice saying thank you for the small moments.
It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of parenting - sleepless nights, juggling work and parenting, racing to the soccer field, ballet lessons, creating nutritional meals, soothing aches and ouches, etc. But looking at raising children through the lens of gratitude can unlock a fullness to parenting that might otherwise get lost in the chaos of school, after-school, doctor's appointments and other activities that can turn each day into a frenzied blur.
Practicing gratitude helps us change our brainwaves from noticing gaps and omissions. When you express a feeling, you amplify it. When you express irritation, you get more irritated, when you express appreciation, you become more grateful.
That also applies to parenting - and especially parenting children with special needs. How do parents of autistic children or children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other special needs stay grateful? It's natural to dwell on the challenges of parenting these children. But if you express gratitude for the minor successes, it will help get you through the hard times.
Learning how to connect with our children from a place of thankfulness can also mean teaching them, or guiding them, to find their own unique ways to express their thankfulness and what they are grateful for in their lives.
As parents, we know that it is possible to help teach our children how to give voice to their gratitude through their own concerns and hopes. Here are some quick ways to inject gratitude practices into you and your children's daily lives:
What ways do you demonstrate gratitude and the art of saying thank you to your children? Do you have any daily gratitude rituals?