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How to Keep Your Spirits Up When Your Kids Bum You Out

How to Keep Your Spirits Up When Your Kids Bum You Out

Call it what you will, but an "in-gratitude attitude" from your kids can really get you down. Many Circle of Moms members, including D. Gray, say it gets especially tough to be around kids who act entitled during the holiday season. While we all love to provide for our children and take special joy in this during the holidays, it's dispiriting when they "expect you to do it all without a thank you."
When D. realized that her teenager seems to feel no gratitude at all, she said it was "by far, one of the most difficult moments I have experienced as a parent." As she goes on to explain, "While I don't expect to be exalted as mother of the century, I certainly would like to be appreciated. Oh well, I guess I am not alone, as this is a universal rite of passage."

I checked in with Circle of Moms members to see just how typical a "rite of passage" this is. Not surprisingly, many moms complain about the same problem, but it's not exclusive to their teens. Luckily, all this sharing of woes has also spurred some good ideas for dealing with our kids' bad attitudes. So to help us all keep our focus on thankfulness and gratitude, I've rounded up six of our members' best tips for enjoying the season even when your kids are acting ungrateful.


1. Model gratitude

It's especially important to start showing a child at an early age how to express thankfulness, because kids follow suit. As Circle of Moms member Barb S. explains, "I make sure I show my appreciation so [my son] can see how it's done. When he helps with the laundry or dishes or mows the yard, I like to give him an 'atta boy, good job, looks so nice. You are such a great help, what would I do without you?'"


2. Expose them to poverty, and how they can help

One way to teach kids to be grateful for what they have is to show them what others their age don't have. As Meghan T. shares, "For Christmas, my family gathers coats, blankets, muffins, and cocoa or water and we go down to a busy city and hand things out to homeless people. To see how little some people have really makes you appreciate the things you do have. This worked great for my teenage nieces. They were so appreciative of everything they had and received after that. Money is tight for a lot of people these days, and hopefully all of our children can learn to be giving, generous adults."

3. Consider tough love at the holidays

Some Circle of Mom members take a stern approach to entitlement or ungrateful behavior that reaches unacceptable levels. Cecilia R., whose own mother took away "the things I loved," when she acted spoiled and ungrateful, recommends telling family members not to spoil them at the holidays and scaling back holiday giving to just one gift. Why go overboard, she asks, "if they're not going to appreciate it?" 


4. Acknowledge even small thanks

Several moms point out that kids sometimes show their gratitude in subtle ways. As Barb S. shares, "Sometimes my son doesn't appreciate everything with a 'thank you,' but he will say 'awesome,' if I have done something special for him." Jennifer W. says, "I don't need any Mother of the Year Award. My reward is when my child smiles at me." And Julie A. reminds us that even surly kids can make a surprise gesture. While she often feels that her kids don't appreciate her, when last year's Christmas was a little paltry, they seemed to really get it: "It was pretty bare underneath our tree. I just wanted to cry, I didn't even want to look at their faces when they opened their presents. They could obviously tell how I was feeling, and they both told me they loved what they got, and they loved even more knowing how hard I worked to get them. They told me that it didn't matter what they got, as long as they always had me.....and then I knew, they are just teenagers, but they really do appreciate me."

5. Remember, it's not a reflection of you

Circle of Moms members also point out that our children are their own people, subject to the influence of peers, and that as moms we can only do so much. If you doubt this, consider Valerie L.'s situation: Her 16-year-old son "is appreciative and understands when I can't give him what he wants," while her daughter "thinks the world revolves around her and that everyone owes her."

6. Remind yourself that they will get it, eventually

Remember the light bulb that went off when you became a mom and suddenly realized all your mother did for you? "It's true, our kids expect we should just do all of these things for them," says Sue D. "But the gratitude will come later when they are adults."

Kelly, a mom of four, agrees: "I do think [gratitude] comes with age. I feel I did the same thing to my parents. I thank them now and have told them that I was sorry for the things I did to them. "

Are you teaching your child to be grateful?

Image Source: Pat Hayes via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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MillieDroste MillieDroste 5 years
One of my greatest joys is to see how my grandchildren react to the gifts they are given. First they look at the card and thank us for it, then the gift. Even though they are entitled kids they are very thankful for each gift they get. We get hugs and kisses. It comes from their parents. One of my children homeschools and with her 4 children you can see a respectful attitude because they are not so affected by other kids. They do have many events, so their social network, i believe is greater than the average school child but they also have prayer time and go to church. Maybe church is what these other children need. Just a thought.
MartinaFahrner MartinaFahrner 5 years
PS: It also helps to tell them that you felt that they were ungrateful, once you have simmered down and talk calmly about it!
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