The Grateful Parent

When we're stressed or at our wit's end, gratitude lets us put everything in perspective. Is this situation really the end of the world? Is it the ultimate deal breaker that will cause us to pack our bags and leave our kids? Probably not. But it can feel like it.

It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges of raising children, losing sight of the hidden gems of parenthood. It's like buying a new house and never getting to enjoy it. Gratitude is a way to stop and enjoy parenting. If not, we risk getting stuck in anger (“my kids never listen”) and bitterness (“becoming a parent messed up my life”). These can cause a lot of problems for us and our families. Anger and bitterness are poisons that destroy all possibilities of inner peace and joy. We must keep a vigilant eye on the subtle ways they creep into our parenting.

One way to abide in gratitude is to remember and reflect. First, bring to mind what we like about our child. This can include aspects of their personality, the way they say “mommy,” their laugh, or even the way they rub their eyes when they’re tired. These are the hidden gems. We can look through some old photos and reminisce, noting how it makes us feel. Does it make my heart warm? Does it make me smile?

Gratitude comes from abundance. Complaining comes from lack. When we shift our focus toward gratitude and away from complaining, we attract prosperity into our lives and families. This is not just monetary (though it can make room for material wealth), but prosperity of the mind, body, and soul.  

Appreciation is when we value someone or something. When we appreciate our role as a parent, we see the true value of it. When we appreciate our child, we’re able to acknowledge their value, which increases their self-worth. Appreciation also plays out in other relationships. If we don’t appreciate our friend, we may take them for granted and cause them to distance from us. The same thing can happen at work if you don't appreciate your job. Eventually, we run the risk of getting fired.

Children can pick up the “vibes of discontentment” we give off when we don’t appreciate or respect our role as parents. They can pick it up from our communication, facial expressions, and body language. When we give off “vibes of discontentment” our children will feel a sense of discomfort around us, no matter how many times we try to convince them we love parenting. They may also blame themselves, wondering why we don't want them, believing they're unworthy of love, respect, and attention.

Gratitude is not a cliché. It’s not something to do, it’s something to be. Gratitude will arise in our hearts when we commit to remembering and reflecting on the good, peaceful, and fun memories of being a parent. As we express our appreciation for the opportunity to parent, we will experience the transformative power of gratitude.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. What are some ways I can remember the good, peaceful, and fun memories of being a mother?
  2. What are some ways I can express my appreciation to my child?
  3. What are 3 things I sometimes forget to be grateful for?