Dear Grandparenting: My youngest daughter, Billie, and I have a major difference of opinion about raising my grandson, Charles. He has a big problem thanking people and that includes me! I have had more than one heart-to-heart talk with Charles about expressing gratitude but he does not really get it. He half-heartedly mumbles something under his breath that is supposed to be the word, “thanks,” but it comes out sounding like a foreign language if you ask me.
Julie says I am just an old worrywart. She assures me Charles will come around when he gets older. Right now he is in the third grade. I am concerned that Charles will have a hard time in life if he cannot master this very basic social skill. Isn’t my daughter kidding herself? I mean, how hard is it to say, “thanks”? Jinks O., Everett, Washington
Dear Jinks: America is one of the most thank you happy nations on earth. According to social scientists, English-speaking people often say “thank you” more than 100 times a day, a rate that astonishes other cultures. Margaret Visser, author of “The Gift of Thanks,” thinks it’s because of America’s commitment to individual rights. Since we’re all theoretical equals, saying thanks became an easy way to acknowledge everyday exchanges.
The truly grateful response cannot be pried out of one, as with your grandson. We all literally enter the world screaming for what we want. Expressions of thanks are a learned response, best learned early on at home. Family meals are a great training ground. The window of opportunity isn’t open forever. Once they become teens, they’re almost gone.
Yes, your daughter is missing the boat. Your grandson runs the risk of running uphill as he moves through life. In good times and bad, success often depends on your social and professional network — the people you’ve come to know. So 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, and then they’re on their way to an attitude of gratitude.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Jazz White from Reading, Pennsylvania, greeted grandson Billy as he stumbled down for breakfast.
“Good morning sunshine,” said Jazz. “Did you check to see if you put your shoes on the right foot?”
“You can’t kid me, Grandpa,” said Billy. “I know these are my two feet.”
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.