By Guest Blogger Stacy Leighton

We are thankful to Forsyth Family magazine for letting us run this timely post today! Let us know if you can relate by leaving a comment below! ~ Katie

Parenting is hard. Kids don’t come with how-to manuals. And when it comes to parenting our kids, one size does not fit all. All clichés. And all-too true. Today’s post explores the topic of being thankful from the perspective of two parents who are at different stages in their parenting career. Stacy is a mom to a 24- year old daughter and 19-year old son. Willy is a dad to four children (one girl and three boys), ages 8, 10, 12 and 14.

(By Willy Minnix)

Thanksgiving is upon us, and it is that time of year to stop and consider the things we are thankful for. But how do we get our kids to be thankful all year round? One of the things that I think has been really helpful is to teach my kids to do nice things for each other. It’s easy to take things for granted when they’ve always been there. But if my children do nice things for each other, it is such a rare treat that it makes each of them appreciate the others more.

When you are thankful for something little that someone has done for you, it helps you realize that there are so many other things to be thankful for. Sometimes we will write lists of the things we are thankful for, and then share them around the table at Thanksgiving time. This would probably be a good habit for us to get into all year long.

We do this a lot at birthdays, too. Often each person in the family will write down several things they are thankful for about the person who is having the birthday. It is another simple chance to show thanksgiving at other times throughout the year.

I guess the bottom line I am trying to instill in my kids is that saying “Thank you” is more than just a polite thing you say when someone does something nice for you—it is a heart-attitude for living! 

(By Stacy Leighton)

“It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.” ~ Sheryl Crow

One Thanksgiving my little sister announced that she might like a new car for Christmas. She would be 16 in January and most of her friends had new cars; so, to her, this made sense. We all fell silent, not an easy thing to do for a family of 8 with 3 children under the age of 4. She didn’t notice the heat rising from my father as she continued, “Then I can get a job to help pay for gas and stuff.” I kicked her under the table. My older brother drew a finger across his neck to signal to her to cut it out. To no avail.

Quietly, firmly, and with deadly seriousness, my father pointed his fork at our 4- year-old brother in a booster seat. To my older brother he said, “Eric, that is your new car.” He pointed to my 2- year-old brother, and to me he said, “Stacy, that is your new car.” And then he pointed his fork toward my littlest brother, still in a bassinet, and said to my sister, “And THAT is YOUR new car, any questions?” In other words, be thankful for what you’ve got.

Although my husband and I have only 2 children, we have continued to instill this value in our family. We believe we should be most thankful first for WHOM you have in your life and that WHAT you have is a very, very distant second. We focus on being thankful for what is in our lives, rather than what is not. When we talked about how grateful we were to have each other, we enjoyed our family time, adventures and stories.

Like all children, occasionally our children became envious or desirous of “things” their friends had. We talked about their value, and if they really wanted these things how they might earn them. We talked about priorities and trade-offs. And as they grew, we volunteered and contributed our time and talents to help those less fortunate. Thankfulness is a value in our family that began as a theory, evolved into a practice, and became a way of life.

*This article is running in the current issue of Forsyth Family magazine.