Contrary to popular beliefs, most children are unappreciative of a parent's hard work until they become parents themselves. Irrespective of what you say, do and so forth, children never fully comprehend just how much goes into parenting. But should parents be upset when their children fail to appreciate all their hard work? The answer is yes and no. It depends on the circumstances. Children are not adults, and with that said, they underestimate exactly what goes into running a household/ family issues and so forth.
Children can be extremely demanding, we can bend over backwards to do everything within our power to make life run smoothly for a child, protect them and provide for them, and still gain nothing more than an occasional grunt in place of a thank you. Yet appreciation only comes with maturity. And we all know that most child think that money grows on trees, the housework is done by little fairies and the meals appear on the table magically. What else can they think? They see us walk up to an automatic teller machine and get money out with little effort, they then follow us to the supermarket to purchase food which we simply swipe a card for. We then head on over to the mall and purchase their clothes. So is there any wonder that children think that we have a never ending supply of money?
Until they actually have some input into the running of a home (household chores etc, budgeting and so forth ) children will be none the wiser. Yes, we all become so frustrated when our children take so much for granted, but who is really at fault in lieu of this? If a child has no part in the running of a household they have much less appreciation for what we do. Therefore they need to be a part of it. Small chores seem like big chores to a child, they will become far more appreciative of the role you play in their lives if chores are handed out occasionally. Washing the dishes, feeding the dog etc, they must learn that these things only get done because someone has made the effort to do so.
Giving a child a small amount of pocket money when possible aids in teaching children just how far money goes, but only when they have earned it. This aids in teaching them exactly how hard parents have to work to provide for them. Talking to the child in a manner such as; "See, you had to take the garbage out and feed the pets to get that $10 a week. Daddy/mommy works six days a week,all day, to earn enough money to feed and clothes us, can you imagine how hard he/she works? Discussions such as this from an early age helps instil appreciation in a child.
But at other times we make our children unappreciative by not teaching them to be thankful. So often we see children with no manners whatsoever, children who are extremely rude and demanding. We give them whatever they wish for on a silver platter and then bemoan the fact that the child/children appear so ungrateful. The parent with a little wisdom will understand that these children have been groomed to expect to be served like royalty. Thus they think it is their God given right to want it all and they then question why they need to say "thank you." They think this is what parents are for. To wait on us hand and foot.
On other occasions children are totally unaware that they are upsetting us. They are too absorbed in enjoying their childhood to worry about anything else. And this is not ignorance, it is simply childhood bliss. It does seem as if we are banging our heads against the wall for a simple "thank you" at times, but a wise parent sees a child's wide smile as a "thank you." When your child cuddles you tight and whispers in your ear " I Love you mommy!" Isn't that ample evidence that they appreciate you? The child who says " My daddy can play basketball better than your daddy!" may not say thank you too often, but he/she is certainly showing their appreciation in their own sweet way.
Back in 1973 I was witness to a very sad situation. I frequently took my two young sons to the local park in a small country town. There we met Sophie the mother of twin three year old girls Anna and Lexie. One spring day little Lexie repeatedly got a spanking for picking the beautiful flowers in the Botanical gardens. She'd pick an armful of flowers then run up to her mother, laugh, dump them in her lap and run off on her chubby little legs to get some more. Sophie was furious, consistently chasing and spanking the little girl's bottom. What she failed to see, was that the flowers were a gift of love. Instead of spanking little Lexie, a hug and thank you should have been given..
A talk about the rules in the park could have followed. Thus showing the child that her love was appreciated at the same time, teaching her that picking flowers in these gardens was not permitted. The time the mother spent smacking the poor child's bottom, could have been better used to take her by the hand saying "You can't pick the flowers sweetheart, take me to them and we will look at them together." Unfortunately for Sophie, the child seldom displayed her affection after this day. Sophie is sixty years of age now, a fellow church member who and often bemoans the fact that Lexie is the less affectionate child of the two. But is there any wonder? She had been coached to restrain her emotions.
Children come in all shapes and sizes, with a plethora of personality traits. Some children are naturally grateful for all we do, while others are so offhand to our efforts that we often feel that we are unappreciated. We as parents have the right to be disappointed at times, but whining often has the reverse affect. If our children do not say thank you or show appreciation when expected, limit the treats etc until they do. And remember that children are little mimics, if we show no appreciation for what they and others do for us, we will not get any shows of appreciation ourselves. We as parents must set the examples.