How many of you hate writing thank you notes? Betcha not as much as my kids do. I wish I could convince my kids that they actually have it good because most of their thank you cards are sent once a year. Their birthdays are in December and they get Christmas gifts in December. Theoretically, they could get away with writing 1 card for both gifts - once a year. Therefore receiving two gifts for the price of one card. Lucky them! Kids with birthdays in any month other than December have to write thank you cards twice a year. That logic didn’t create any sense of victory from my crew. Especially because when we lined them up this year - they each had to write 18 cards. That’s a lot for a kid. And hell yes, I said this to them: “Just think if we let all your friends bring gifts to your birthday party? That would be so many thank you cards.” For some reason that didn’t motivate them either.
Prior to having my kids, someone told me that before her kids could play with a gift they received, they would have to write a thank you note. I made a mental note because of course I would TOTALLY copy that important parenting skill. Fast forward to my real life having my own real kids with real birthdays and real Xmas mornings - I just had to let go of that parent tip. It’s just not going to happen in my lifetime. My “chill” attitude of not making them write all their notes/cards the day after Christmas didn’t help either. In fact, it backfired because all of a sudden it’s almost the middle of January and that’s very late for my son to say thank you for his December 7th birthday gifts. Insert <cringe> here.
Our routine goes something like this: Eventually (many days after Xmas) I create an assembly line with cards, envelopes, pens, stamps and notes of who gave what for which occasion. My kids begin the process - their job is to write their notes. My job is to make sure the cards make it to their destinations. They write their cards diligently but I can’t help but wonder, am I doing the right thing by holding my kids hostage at the dinning room table in order to do so? I do believe gratefulness is a learned value but I also do not want to scar my children by forcing them to be grateful. Years from now, when they are in therapy, my "thank you card wrath" will be the root of all of their problems. Seriously though, I feel very strongly about connecting back to the thoughtful person of who sent us a gift. Is it counterproductive if I have my kids hogtied to say thanks?
As I contemplate the world of young kids and their gratitude, I find a ray of hope. Lately, my son has been coming home after a playdate and wants to make a thank you card. Every single day he asks for a play date because hanging out with a buddy at their house is like getting a gift on Christmas morning. So when he demands paper for a thank you card the minute he gets home from the playdate I know my job is done, right?