Sharing Gratitude: Acknowledging each family members’ contributions

It’s amazing what a little appreciation, acknowledgment and gratitude can do.  You can go from feeling hum-drum or bummed to feeling completely ecstatic in a few short moments if you only take the time to practice gratitude.  Gratitude is like this magic potion that reminds us of all we have to appreciate in life–and there is a LOT to appreciate.

I have some friends who share gratitude with one another every time they sit down to share a meal together.  Others use gratitude as a way to connect at the beginning of their monthly family meeting.  I even know some parents and kids who say what they’re grateful for each night before bed.

I’ve found that when I feel appreciated and acknowledged, I am more willing to contribute, I feel more engaged in my relationships, and I’m just generally happier.  So, do kids feel any different?  I don’t think so.  I think we all respond well to being appreciated and acknowledged.  But it depends on how.  For instance, compliments like, “You have pretty hair.” usually don’t impact me in the same way that true acknowledgment does.

Here’s the difference:  A compliment is really just a positive judgment which might feel good at the time, but then it also leaves room for negative judgments which we can feel afraid of.  An acknowledgment is different.

With an acknowledgment we share the impact on us that a particular action had.  So, instead of “you have such pretty hair”, you might say “Wow, when I see the way the light shines off of your hair I feel so joyful and grateful for all the beauty in my life.  Thanks for being such a shining light in my life!”

An even better example would be when you notice your child contributing to your family in some way.  You might share, “Oh, Ralph, when I see you entertaining your sister I feel so happy because it gives me the time I need to get ready to go and I feel so grateful that you and your sister are enjoying each other.”  Or “You know, Cindy, when you tell those funny jokes at the dinner table I really appreciate how you bring lightness and laughter into our family, without your shenanigans, I wouldn’t laugh nearly as much as I do.  Thanks!”

The truth is, every member of your family is contributing in many ways all the time.  I’m just suggesting that we all take a little extra time to actually acknowledge those contributions.

If you’re having trouble coming up with something to acknowledge, just take a moment to think about what this person brings to your life that you wouldn’t have without him or her.  It might be joy, laughter, spontaneity, support, fun, play, or even peace.

You can even do this exercise to recognize your own contributions.  How do you impact the other members of your family?  And do you feel grateful for the opportunity to contribute in those ways?  Or are you grumbling all the way to the grocery store?  If you’re grumbling, you might need some more acknowledgment.  And guess what–it’s OK to ask for it!!!

I’m sure you already know most of this already, but I just wanted to remind us all to take a little extra time this week for gratitude, appreciation, and acknowledgment.  I know it has made a positive impact on my life, and I’m pretty sure it will on yours as well.

I’d love to know about your own experiences of acknowledgment and the difference between acknowledgment and compliments.  Please share something in the comment box!

Warmly, Shelly

5 comments
shercy ramos
shercy ramos

As a daughter, I can feel truly encouraged when the things that I do at home are appreciated. I agree with your point that there is a difference between compliment and acknowledgment. When a compliment is given, it usually stays there, at that time and it does not have a lasting effect. When an acknowledgment is given, on the other hand, it can last and may even be life-altering at times.

smith
smith

It is really very good thing to have an attitude of gratitude. As you know when a woman appreciate her husband for the little things he did for her. he love to do more for her. It is the appreciation that always makes the relationship more sweet and good.

Jim
Jim

Amen.

special needs children safety
special needs children safety

One of the hardest things in the world to witness is a child that isn't able to glow because of their environment. Not only making sure they FEEL appreciated but knowing in your heart that you do appreciate them so when you interact with them, what they feel is authentic.

And for those who don't appreciate their children: learn to.

Then the child can light up the world.

Adam
Adam

It's great to see this positive attitude. Our kids are still very young but we ensure we give them a high five or something rewarding to let them know when they have done a good thing. We try to do this in our relationship as well and it has worked very well.

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