I have been thinking about making our blog more "bloggy". So I am moving our newsletter information under the tab newsletter and re-working this section into more parenting information. This is happening to correspond to an opportunity to have our blog become part of an even bigger project, a contest (I do like contests!) from the authors of "The Blogger's Survival Guide" and Wayman Publishing. Contestant winners will have their stories featured in Wayman Publishing's upcoming parenting anthology. Even better, 50% of the profits from this book will go to a charity that rescues abducted children. Human trafficking is one of the greatest horrors of the continuing moral decline in our society. 

The criteria is as follows: "In 200 – 2000 words, tell us a moment in your role as a parent or a child looking up at your parent(s) that you could remember was the best the moment of parenthood you have ever witnessed.  The story must be inspiring, endearing, and heartening in order to be chosen." This fits in well with our own M.O.M.- Model, Organizer, Mentor project, so this is my entry:


An “Attitude of Gratitude”


“What is the most important character trait for a person to have? “ That was the question thrown out to a group of us by Dr. Matt Davidson at a character education conference with the Center for the 4th and 5th R’s (Respect and Responsibility) at SUNY Cortland. We couldn’t guess. There are so many great and important traits to have. Dr. Davidson answered: “Gratitude… gratitude is the most important character trait to have.” That made sense to me, out of gratitude comes many of the other good character traits; love, respect, responsibility, honesty etc. When a person is truly grateful to or for someone or something, they do their best to give back in the best way possible.


I mentioned this to an educator and he disagreed. He thought that it was just one man’s opinion, but I thought that Dr. Davidson must have told us this based on some kind of study or fact so I decided to research it on the internet. Over and over again, the importance of gratitude was cited, all the way back to Aristotle.


So what exactly does “gratitude” mean? According to various studies, gratitude is connected to a “willingness” to forgive”. People who are grateful also have closer ties to people and are more satisfied with their social connections. They also have less problems with anger, depression and other emotional issues including addictions. Grateful people were found to be more productive and self-aware and had better ability to recognize and cope with problems. Grateful people are also more optimistic, self-confident, less materialistic and have better relationship skills. What a gift to give our children!


The gratitude lesson was brought home to me by my mother when I was about 11 or 12 years old. At that time, 3 of my later to be 4, younger siblings and I had been out to dinner with our parents at a local Japanese noodle shop in my home town of Salt Lake City, Utah. We had just gotten into the car for the short drive home and all was chaos as usual. There were no seatbelts back then and all of us were tumbling about in the back seat in our normal boisterous manner. Suddenly my mother turned around to look at us and said “Did you thank your father for dinner?”  Shocked silence, movement stopped and we all just looked at our mother. Thank our father? For feeding us? Wasn’t that his obligation? Then a chorus of “thank you, daddy” rang out, as father started up the car and started out towards home.  We never forgot to thank him for doing something for us again. Such a small and simple thing, but it made a profound impression on all of us. What a lesson we learned. We were not entitled to what we got.  We either got it out of love or because we worked for it. This is something that I hope I impressed upon my own children as they were growing up.


There are other concrete advantages for being grateful according to Richard Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, who specializes in the study of gratitude, “First, the practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25 %. Second, this is not hard to achieve. A few hours writing a gratitude journal over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months if not more. Third, cultivating gratitude brings other health effects, such as longer and better quality sleep time.”


How much better off and happier would our society be if all of us would make a conscious attempt to be and act grateful for all that we have been given and for all that others do for us, instead of acting as if we are entitled. As mothers we have a unique opportunity to model gratitude to our children and to train them to be grateful. How else are they going to learn the “most important character trait”, an “attitude of gratitude”?