What happens when you say this to your family?
“I know that was hard for you, Emmett, to say you would stay home instead of go to your friend’s tonight. I really appreciate that sacrifice you made so that Dad and I could go on a date. It meant a lot to us.”
“Thank you for making my lunch for me, Miriam, so that I can finish my homework and be able to play outside.”
“I am so grateful you stopped at the store for me. I was so swamped here that I didn’t know how I was going to fit it in. Thank you, MIke.”
“Wow. You made an awesome dinner to night, Emma. I can tell you put a lot of thought into it.”
“You have been working so hard at being kind to your sister. I can tell you’ve been trying to be extra aware today.”
One thing that can make your whole family more UN-HAPPY
When we are in families (and marriages) it’s really easy to just expect them to do things. We believe they SHOULD be doing their chores. They SHOULD be being nice. They SHOULD be helping around the house.
We have expectations of how our kids and spouses SHOULD be. Sometimes, we are so busy looking at what they aren’t that we overlook the awesome-ness of what they ARE doing. Our expectations can be so high that we don’t see all of the good that IS happening.
What we are missing
When we have high expectations we forget to be grateful for the little things, the everyday ways that our family members are amazing people to live with…the small ways that our daughter is trying to do better at getting her homework done faster, the way our son has stopped pushing his sister’s buttons as often, the way our husband is doing extra things to lighten our load.
In our mind, we might think, “Finally! It’s about time you shape up!” or “I’ve only been asking for days to do that!”
How our kids and spouse feel when no one notices
Instead of being grateful we are just glad to be right. And instead of a feeling of gratitude in our homes it ends up feeling more like griping.
And then NO ONE feels appreciated or recognized for their efforts.
And pretty soon making an effort feels pretty pointless.
Where being grateful matters most
Appreciation and gratitude-the kind that we give to everyone else-needs to be found in even greater abundance in our homes…with the people who need our appreciation the most.
Being gracious with our compliments and specifically pointing out all the things that are our kids and spouse are doing right will make our family happier, feel more appreciated, and begin enjoying each other more.
Seeing the good stuff about our families will slowly encourage them to see the good stuff, too.
Some appreciation tips that may work for your family:
Be your family’s cheerleader! Look for opportunities to write them cute little notes. You could decorate them or hide them in places for them to find. Some ideas for you, “You have such great ideas, thank you for sharing them with me.” “You are brilliant and you learn so quickly!” I had so much fun with you yesterday when we [insert a fun activity you did together and why you liked being with them].”
Snuggle one of your kids (or your spouse) close. Tell them that you are so grateful they are in your family, that there is no one like them. You could say things like: “I love to spend quiet time with you.” “There is an (Emma/insert your child’s name)-shaped space in our family that only you can fill.” “You are enough just the way they are.” “You have great questions. You always get me thinking about things.”
Bear hug a family member and tickle them a little. Some ideas to say: “I love having your lively energy in your home.” “You are so good at making things happen in your life.” “I am happy with the choices you are making.” “You can take action on things that are important to you.”
Pull one of your kids (or spouse) aside and give them a heartfelt and sincere compliment. Mention something you’ve seen them do in the past 24 hours or let them know that you are proud of how much work they’ve put into a project or improving their grades. Let them know that you love having their confidence and loyalty in your home. You could say something like, ” I appreciate that you are so good at knowing just what you want.” “You are so good at being focused when you work on your homework. It’s a wonderful gift that you have.” “I always enjoy talking to you and hearing your thoughts and opinions on life.”
Who I forget to thank…
I’d love to hear how it goes for you. We all have moments when life seems to big and overwhelming and we forget that something this small can make a big difference. It’s okay if that’s how you’re feeling.
For me, my husband is the easiest one for me to forget to thank for little things. We get really busy with the kids just trying to get things done. We work so well together just making things happen that I forget to recognize how wonderful he is at doing the daily stuff. He will be the one in my family that I’m going to start being more aware of thanking and appreciating.
What have you realized you’re grateful for, as you’ve started noticing what’s right, about the people that you love?
Davina Fear is a Familyness Adventurer. She loves her husband and how awesome he is at noticing the good stuff in their life.
She blogs at davinafear.com and loves living in the tiny town of Clover (the town with LOVE in the middle).