Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Thankfulness Tree

So everyone on my Facebook friends list in playing the ‘Thankful Every Day’ game. Every morning (and evening, because all my friends are not on the same schedule – who knew?), I wake up to a wall full of ‘Today I am thankful for…’ posts. It’s both lovely and frustrating at the same time.

It’s lovely – of course it’s lovely to be thankful for the many, many wonderful things and people in our lives, it really is. I love that there is a time of year that people can wax nostalgic and poetic and it’s not only tolerated but encouraged. It’s reassuring to me to see to see that people actually do take time out and recognize the special people and events and good fortune that have graced their lives, and whether or not they attribute that to a certain deity or not, it makes me feel good to live in a world where my friends are conscious of and readily acknowledge the good things in their lives.

As non-church-goers, some may question how we instill a spirit of thankfulness in our kids. I don’t buy into the ‘every good thing comes from God’ rhetoric, though I was raised with it. To this day, I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer to why good things happen to bad people. I don’t want a theological debate here; Loverly Husband and I are quite happy where we are spiritually speaking; but it is enough for us to disdain the thought of bringing our children up into that lifestyle and mindset.

So how do we go about bringing up our kids to be thankful? Honestly, I don’t think that we have any more difficulty in this regard than your average church-going family. Demonstration goes a long way towards how your children are shaped as they grow up and my husband and I both try to model good behaviour and habits for our kids. We try to point out the wonder and mystery in everyday life and express appreciation that we’re here to see it, that we live in the here and now, and that we have them in our lives to share it with.

We’ve brought them up Southern Style, with ‘yes, ma’am’s and ‘no, sir’s and general good manners, which include an awareness of kindness shown to you by others. My kids are fairly polite (often without being prompted, even!) and are generous with their ‘Thank Yous’ both in everyday life and when we see or experience something unusual, extraordinary or amazing. But it’s one thing to be thankful and yet another to be consciously exercising thankfulness. To that end, I do think that my kids could expend a little more mental effort into consciously acknowledging the good things in their lives. I saw a thread on SecularHomeschool.com’s forums about a Thankfulness Tree, where the kids add ‘leaves’ everyday throughout the month. I thought it was a lovely idea, and we have made one of our own:

It is interesting to me to see the progression of what the kids are thankful for; how it starts out fairly superficial and is leaning more towards the conveniences that we take for granted. ‘Clean clothes’ made the list today, and ‘my home’, which is different from the house as a physical building, I’m told. I’m very curious as to what will make the list as the month continues. Judging by today’s additions though, I think we’re doing fine.

Warmly,

~h

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4 responses

  1. We are doing a Thankful Tree as well because I agree with you that being consciously thankful is different and an important skill to learn. We are also inviting friends and family to add to it as the month goes by and on Thanksgiving day. Yours looks great and it sounds like the boys are really putting thought into it.

    November 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

  2. Ooooh – that’s a good idea, too 🙂
    ~h

    November 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm

  3. That is an awesome idea I’ll have to snag it, because I really don’t think our boys are aware of what they have to be thankful for. The Spouse and I have discussed this before when comparing their upbringing to his, it is completely different. It will be great for them to actually have to think about what it is they have, and see the completed full tree at the end of the month.

    Thanks for sharing! I really need to spend more time over at the SecularHomeschool website, LOL.

    November 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm

  4. yvette

    What a wonderful idea!! I think we will have to do something similar…not sure why I didn’t think to have them do what I am doing on facebook?! Being thankful can be such a struggle for my kids (and for me) and everything we can do to encourage a thankful heart is a great thing!!

    November 4, 2010 at 8:31 pm

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