By Morah Carolyn Steinman
Head of Jewish Studies/Hebrew ELC to Year 12
As parents, want our children to have more than we did growing up: more opportunities, less disappointment, more things, less frustration, more friends, less heartbreak. And so we buy more stuff, micromanage our children’s social lives, fill their minutes and hours with extra-curricular activities and intervene the minute they express frustration or disappointment. We sacrifice and spend but it does not always result in gratitude. So often it leads to entitlement and arrogance.
With Purim approaching, it is the perfect time to model gratitude. When our children are taught about and then hear the story of the Megillah, they are learning about gratitude. Gratitude for our survival as a people. Gratitude that we have leaders who were proactive and stood up against hate and discrimination. Leaders like Esther who put her personal needs and life aside to serve and save her people.
As educators and parents, an attitude of gratitude is one of the most crucial character traits we can teach our children.
So how do we grow an attitude of appreciation in our homes and school?
In Judaism we are taught to begin each day with the prayer of ‘Modeh Ani’ – ‘Thank You God for another day’ and ‘Birkat Hashachar’ – the morning blessings. This becomes a mindset. At Masada we teach our children to start their morning with these words. We want thankfulness to become common in our vocabulary. Partner with us to teach our children gratitude. Look for things, big and small, to express gratitude for. You found a parking spot easily? The family is eating dinner together? Let the kids hear your gratitude. The children got new school sneakers and backpacks? You bought new clothes? Don’t allow the moment to pass without an expression of appreciation. A beautiful way to end each day is teaching your children to thank God for their blessings before they go to sleep. Help younger children think of people, experiences and things they are grateful for. This will become a positive awareness that children cultivate as they grow. Daily thanks compel us to feel joy and contentment.
As we approach Purim we will be asking you to support your children in bringing in food to distribute for mishloach manot to ensure those less fortunate can also receive gifts of food. Before Pesach we will be collecting for those in our community who will struggle to buy kosher for peach food to share with their families. Let us model gratitude together.