George and I have been working more on teaching our children virtues recently. As they communicate better and interact with each other more, being kind, patient, generous, and gracious are increasingly important. My heart melted when Mason showed a generous heart at dinner, sharing his milk with Harper.
I really hadn’t considered how to teach them thankfulness until I read a post written by my cousin at Confessions of a Pastor’s Family. Showing gratitude is important year round, but this time of year is a nice time to spend a little more time devoted to it. I loved how her family worked together to create a “Thankful Tree” where each family member wrote some of the things they are thankful for on the leaves. While the quads aren’t old enough to verbalize what exactly they appreciate, I combined our usual baby art with thankfulness. I love creating art using their hands and feet because it preserves their size at various stages of life. This year, we did the cliché hand and foot turkey. On each of the little fingers, I wrote things I believe they are thankful for (e.g. Wubbanubs, Elmo, shape sorters) as well as things we are thankful for as a family (e.g. our doctors, family, friends). In the future, I think it will be fun to see what they liked as babies and how they evolve into appreciating other things.
While I had fun reflecting upon what our family is thankful for, that didn’t really teach the quads much this year. I took note from Jennifer and added the sign, “thank you” to our repertoire. They already mastered basic requests and “please” so “thank you” was a logical next step. They haven’t mastered, “thank you”, but they certainly understand the concept. I also pulled a small collection of books about being thankful from our library, reading them daily. Since the babies were in the NICU, I have always prayed with them. I’m not typically a “pray aloud” person, but in order to teach babies and children prayer, you really have to pray aloud. Each night as I tuck each one into bed, I pray over them thanking Jesus for our day and our blessings, then I extend our prayer to others. Even though I’ve been praying with the babies their entire life, we are just beginning a mealtime prayer. I have always liked the one Jennifer’s family says so we are adopting her version as a mealtime prayer. It is very close to the one my father’s family says, but is a little more child-friendly.
Come Lord Jesus be our guest.
Let this food to us be blessed.
Make us mindful for the needs of others, we ask in your name.
Our family has been blessed in many ways, and it is important that we teach our children beginning right now to be thankful for what we are given each day. What are you thankful for?