Best of the Web: The gift of gratitude this holiday season, and more

Why the best gift of all may not be a gift, parenting lessons on how to let go and what happens when you discover your pre-teen is vaping.

Our selection of thought-provoking and useful resources from around the web on educating and raising children, and supporting families.

Give the gift of gratitude this holiday season

(Dona Matthews, Ph.D., Psychology Today)

For many families, the holiday season involves the giving of gifts – and with that often comes the struggle of deciding on what gifts to give.

‘I’ve always liked the simple gifts that help kids find and develop their interests. Craft supplies, music, books, globes, shared activities, and magazine subscriptions. It’s great when a gift recognizes and encourages a special interest your child has or helps them expand their interests and skills,’ writes the author.

But she suggests that perhaps the best gift isn’t a physical gift.

The gift of gratitude is one that will transform a child’s life – long after a toy is discarded for the next interest. Teaching our children about gratitude is a life skill worth investing in.

The writer shares, ‘There’s a large body of research evidence showing that grateful people are more contented than others. They sleep better. They’re healthier, more popular, more resilient, more optimistic, more energetic, and more successful in every realm. They live longer and report a higher level of happiness’.

If you wanted to give the gift of gratitude, while still giving a physical gift, you could consider a gratitude journal, and the whole family could contribute to it – a gift that will keep giving long after the holiday season.

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As my son is finishing primary school, I am trying to learn how to seize the day while letting go

(Ranjana Srivastava, The Guardian)

The writer, an oncologist, author and perhaps most importantly, a mother, writes about how she’s learning to seize the day while simultaneously letting go.

Having denied her primary school child his many requests for a phone until high school, she laments that, ‘My son’s forthcoming graduation will be the demarcation between the pre-phone dark age and post-phone Enlightenment. But if I am being honest, it was never about the phone but letting go’.

Letting go of the interactions parents have with the teachers and school when a child is in primary school. Moving to a trust-based relationship with teenagers, and hoping they’ve remembered all the lessons their parents have studiously imparted on them in their formative years – and will no doubt continue to do so.

Parents and children are tied by various binds. As the author explains from her work as an oncologist, all the parents she encounters as patients ‘ask to be fully present because there is an implicit acknowledgement that there may not be a next time’.

Letting go is all part of the balancing act that is parenting.

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I found my pre-teen daughter's vape. Now what?

(Lyrella Couzens, ABC Everyday)

Realising that she is ‘completely out of touch’, the writer shares how she was shocked to uncover a vape in her 12-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

After running through a series of possible scenarios on how best to approach her daughter about the discovery, the writer decides calm and direct is the way forward and sits her daughter down for a chat.

A barrage of excuses starts and then, after a while, the truth emerges. Armed with more information, the mother is beginning to understand the situation from her daughter’s perspective.

‘Ultimately, I understand that whether I like it or not, I can’t shield my child from vapes or stop her from vaping. Despite my long list of reasons why vaping is an addictive, unhealthy habit’.

But what next? There were, of course, consequences but importantly the writer has discovered that it’s not a once-off discussion. There is a need for ongoing conversations and continuous communication about her daughter’s health and safety but ultimately the onus is on her.

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