My Ungrateful Boy

‘Tis the season of gratitude, right?  You would think so, but not necessarily for three year old boys.  In this most abundant of seasons, we’ve been talking a lot about gratitude and being thankful at home and at school.  My boy is lucky.  He has a nice home, goes to a great school, has two parents who love and care for him, good health, and toys and books that appear to reproduce on their shelves.

When asked what he is grateful for, what makes him give thanks, the answer for days now has been a sullen, “Myself.”  Hrmph.  Pout, stomp, drop mic, and leave the room.  Boom.

Initially, this really bothered me.  “Are you kidding me?,” I would ask myself in my head.  Jiminy Crickets, this kid has it made and all he is thankful for is his own damn self?  Oh no he didn’t.  Ain’t no way this mama is gonna raise herself a narcissist.  I know narcissists and I don’t want to have any hand in raising one.

And then I remembered.  He’s three.  Not 13, not 30, not 47.  My boy is three.  He shows his gratitude in a hundred different ways — the neck nuzzle, calling me Spider Man 2 to his Spider Man 1, holding hands on the sidewalk when we’re not even near an intersection.  I know my boy is grateful because I feel it.  Every day.  Well, mostly every day.  Sometimes I just annoy him and he growls and makes his fingers into claws.  I love that boy, too.

On this high holy day of gratitude, my job is not to require a rote reply from my three year old to the question of “What are you grateful for?”  My job is to show my gratitude — model it every day, not just this day.  My boy will learn.  I will, too.


And if you are reading these words, know just how grateful I am for you in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!  


2 Replies to “My Ungrateful Boy”

  1. Thanks for this. I’ve been having issues with my boy’s gratitude, appreciation, even just plain old acknowledgement of late. The major Daddy adorer he turned into overnight has had his Mama in tears, refusing so much as a good morning kiss because “I’m not Daddy.” Your post brought a smile to my face and perspective to my heart. Thank you, MTM, for yoyr words and have a great Thanksgiving!


  2. I really want to stress that your boy will not feel grateful for a while. But don’t hold that against him (as you aren’t) because it will hit him when he is older.

    I am currently 22, and only in the past couple years did I realize how well I had it as a child. Although my parents divorced when I was in 4th grade, I still had two parents who loved me, plenty of good food, and a warm home. I never had to do chores as a child. I had all the new toys and fashion. I totally took it for granted.

    Only now can I truly appreciate all my mom and dad did for me. I tell my mom all the time how grateful I am for what I had as a child.

    It will come, not as soon as you want it, but when your son is older he will look at you one day and thank you for all your hard work, your love, and the little things you did for him.


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