Dear Grandparenting: I have a major difference of opinion with my daughter Claire about my grandson. Robert has a big problem thanking people and that includes me.
I tried heart-to-heart talks with Robert about expressing gratitude but the boy just doesn’t get it. He half-heartedly mumbles something under his breath that might be “thanks” but it’s a whisper at best.
Claire thinks I’m an old worrywart. She assures me that Robert will come around when he gets older. But he’s already nine years old, and I’m so very certain he will have a tough time in life if he cannot master this simple social skill. Isn’t my daughter kidding herself? I mean, how hard is it to say “thanks”? Katie Rappaport, Des Moines, Iowa
Dear Katie: Americans give thanks like nowhere else on earth. According to social scientists, English-speaking people often say thanks more than 100 times a day, a rate that astonishes those from other cultures.
According to Margaret Visser, author of “The Gift of Thanks,” the habit stems from America’s commitment to individual rights. Since we are all theoretical equals, thanks became an easy way to acknowledge everyday exchanges.
Expressions of thanks are a learned response, best learned early on at home. For kids to be grateful, parents must model gratitude and thank their children when it’s deserved or otherwise called for.
Family meals are a great training ground — thanks for passing the salt. The window of opportunity isn’t open much longer. Once they become teens, they’re about gone.
Your grandson is swimming against the tide. In good times and bad, success and happiness often depends on your social and professional network. Civility is an asset, not an option.
Here’s a suggestion that might help your grandson begin to get the hang of gratitude. Help him write some “thank you” notes for past kindnesses received. To give thanks is to get thanks, putting your grandson on the path to an attitude of gratitude.
Grand remark of the week
Lawrence Devers from Brockton, Massachusetts watched as grandson Terry raced up and down the street on the two-seat tricycle that Lawrence made in his home workshop.
A neighborhood friend happened by and started waving his hand, shouting out “taxi, hey taxi.”
Terry zoomed past and yelled out, “Not now, I’m off duty.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.