This post is made possible with support from the Center for Parent and Teen Communication, part of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. All opinions are my own.
As someone whose love language is gifts, it can be hard for me to receive, and Max is the same way. There’s nothing quite like losing everything you own to force you into an “attitude of gratitude” and truly realize how profound the act of receiving can be.
As you may know, our house and everything in it was lost to the River Fire in August, here in Northern California. It was a matter of hours between “Hey, there’s a fire at the campground” to our home being engulfed by the flames.
And then the gifts started coming. Basic necessities at first; socks and underwear, hairbrushes and a litterbox for the cats. But the things kept coming. A scooter and helmet for Max, boxes of our favorite snack foods, LEGO sets (so many LEGO sets!) And every time a box arrived, we would gather as a family to open it, and give thanks for the sender, even the anonymous ones.
The packages have slowed down now, three months out, but already Max has been paying it forward. Regifting duplicate LEGO sets to another kid who lost everything, suggesting items to add to our family wishlist with the plans to donate them to the community resource center for other families.
I don’t recommend wildfire as a method of teaching gratitude, because the rest of it is pretty awful, but like always, there’s a silver lining to be found.
I’m thankful for the lessons Max has learned through this experience, and as we move forward as a family, he amazes me every day with how he keeps moving through life and he grows into a man that we can be so very proud of.
The ability to express and acknowledge gratitude is an important milestone of the teen years; the Center for Parent Teen Communication provides science-based strategies to support healthy family relationships, such as this month’s Celebrate Teen Milestones project. CPTC’s content is offered in easy-to-understand tidbits, and you can get their daily 100-word parenting newsletter by signing up right here. (Highly recommend!)
Which of these milestones have you observed with your teen?