Being Grateful. Writing Thank You Notes.
18 Jan, 2013
Written by Amy Purintun
I love to learn. I enjoy reading and researching. A lot. In fact, I can neglect many of my daily chores in order to spend time learning and reading a book or researching online. (I don’t mean Facebook or Pinterest, although I do enjoy those, too!)
This learning/reading/researching process includes a big dose of Bible study for me. I have a group of friends that I meet with on Wednesday mornings and we do bible study together. We have been doing this for a number of years, and have done many studies together. Our current study is by James MacDonald entitled, “Lord, Change My Attitude”. Imagine my giggle when I saw another one of the writers post about that this week on HVFH! (Click here for Heather’s article)
MacDonald challenges us to replace our sinful attitudes with God pleasing attitudes. First off, with our complaining attitudes being replaced with an attitude of gratitude. I have been thinking about this a lot the past several days. I didn’t think that I complained much at all, but now that I am watching and paying attention, I find I do complain more than I realized. Not always out loud, but often in my own head. And, sadly, often what I am complaining about is stuff that is so insignificant compared to other things going on in the world. Those little irritations of things not going quite perfectly, or that my pants are too tight.
But, as a parent, I want to teach my children the importance of a grateful attitude.
I think parents owe that to the rest of society. Isn’t that the goal – to make our children an end product that adds benefit to society at large? I want to remove any inkling of entitlement attitude from my children, and infuse in them how much they have to be grateful about. I want them to realize that the world does not revolve around them, and that they will be happiest in life when they are giving to others. Happiness comes from gratitude.
But, how do I get my teenagers to do it? Well, if a person waits until they are teenagers, I think you are waiting too long. This has to start EARLY.
A family can talk about it. My kids see my husband and myself telling others thank you for things received. But, how to make it more real?
I have decided that there is one little act that can help do this in a very effective manner. It isn’t much fun. Actually, it is a kind of chore. And, in today’s techno-savvy world it may seem a tad archaic.
The THANK YOU note.
From the time my kids were old enough to write, I have had them send thank you notes for gifts they have received. Even gifts from Grandma. Even when Grandma has said they don’t need to send a thank you note. (she doesn’t mean it!) The note still gets sent.
The note doesn’t have to be flowery and fancy. Just the simple words of “thank you” being hand written drives the point home. It is making sure that the gift giver knows your gratitude. That you appreciate the kindness. Now, I do have to admit that when I get thank yous from graduating seniors that say “thank you for the gift” and nothing more, I do get a little irritated. But, I’m working on that attitude! I also have to keep myself in check to not get judgmental – that isn’t the point of this exercise.
I am a little surprised by the parenting-peers of mine who don’t think they need to make their kids send any thank you notes. Yeah, it is a whip-riding task to make a kid do. Yes, the entire episode can create a lot of stress as the process is being done. (check your spelling, use your best hand-writing, make it neat) Some have even taken the short cut of doing it for the child. (GASP!) I have even heard of a parent creating a form for the child to fill in the blank and sign their name – what would Miss Manners say?? But, in the end, when the child has taken a moment to think about the gift giver instead of just the gift, the lesson happens. The point of the note is to let the OTHER person know that their kindness was noticed and appreciated.
What is learned by NOT doing the thank you note? Sadly, I think a teaching moment is lost.
My teenagers know now that when they get a gift the next step is sending a thank you note. And, they know I expect them to put some thought and effort into it. In fact, after a large event where gifts are given (like confirmation, Eagle Scout awards, graduation) they even mention that they are dreading how many gifts they may get because that means more writing. Good. I think they are getting it. It isn’t about them!