If you’re on Facebook, perhaps you have seen others or are doing yourself, updating their status each day of what they are thankful for. When I first saw it, I hesitated. In some ways using a medium like Facebook to share what I am thankful for each day seems so forced, so insincere, but I decided to do it anyway. It has actually been sort of fun thinking of different things each day. Some days have been harder than others, especially once I got through the easy ones (my children, my husband, etc.). I started thinking about the more subtle things in life that I am so grateful for (coffee, I am talking about you!). Some days I really had to think… and I think I need more gratitude in my life.
Yesterday, my five year old told me that he heard something very important on the radio. He told me that there are people that don’t have clean water or enough food to eat. Every day children are dying because of it.
And he said this with much astonishment, which makes me grateful that he does not have to worry about this in his daily life, but also makes me wonder about how to use this moment to teach him about what we need to do for others and what we need to do for this planet.
We have done the usual canned food drives. In fact, several of his friends this year asked for food donations in lieu of presents for their birthday parties. We discussed why we did this, but obviously he still doesn’t really understand. We donate used goods to various charities. We also talked about why we do this, what it means for us and for others, but again it obviously didn’t really sink in.
So yesterday I shared how thankful I am to have clean water and enough food. And I am, incredibly thankful.
But now, how to teach a five-year-old about the gravity and worldwide prevalence of hunger, poverty, and limited access to clean, safe water? How do I impart how thankful we really should be for our home, healthy food, clean water, transportation, an excellent education, and the freedom to play? How do I teach him to be empathetic and generous with a desire to change the world?
How do you teach your children to be thankful?
What are you thankful for this year?