Thank you, God, for the food we eat;
Thank you, God, for the birds that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything.
In this column, we purposely do not espouse any particular faith or belief system, because we want to speak to all people, regardless of their political or religious persuasion. We try hard to refrain from preaching and most certainly from proselytizing.
Having said that, we couldn’t help but share a little prayer that we recited at the dinner table when our children were young. We liked this prayer, because its theme is gratitude. What better precept to pass on to young children than to be thankful for life and for the privilege as one of the living beings in this vast universe. The enormity of space is incomprehensible. And while many believe that there is life elsewhere it could be that we are all there is. To continue our space motif, we should thank our lucky stars that we inhabit a planet that could be billions of years old and the only heavenly body that sustains life as we know it.
You did it your way … really?
However, we wonder if most of us have gotten so caught up in ourselves that our coveted stations in life have become pedestals. Look how high I have climbed. Look how much money I make. Look at all my awards, honors, degrees and achievements. Look at how much better I am than the rest of them. We think many children today think in those terms, too. The best. The smartest. The most talented.
We believe many of us have failed to teach humility, failed to convey the realization that what their children know and have achieved is largely due to the efforts of someone else – a teacher, mentor, adviser, friend or perhaps a parent or grandparent. All of us stand on the shoulders of others before us who encouraged or challenged us to be better. We owe those people a huge debt of gratitude.
Encourage your children to think those in their young lives who have helped them along the way. Instill in them the idea that they should be grateful to have friends, mentors and role models.
Something bigger than ourselves
We are all part of the same fabric. Help your children develop a life of gratitude, a firm foundation to be generous to others. A thankful attitude can change a negative situation into an opportunity for growth, for opening a new door to understanding. Generosity helps a person handle the difficulties of life with grace. The more our children express gratitude, the more likely they will see themselves as part of something larger, even more mysterious. Is it God? It’s truly whatever you choose to teach your children. The point is that they are on this earth to make it a better place – thanks to a lot of help from others.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of the new book, “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.