The Importance of Appreciation (For a Child)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Today, I saw this picture on Facebook saying, “When a child gives you a gift, even if it’s a rock they just picked up, exude gratitude. It might be the only thing they have to give, and they have chosen to give it to you.”

This got me thinking about how parents forget to show or decide not to show, or just don’t feel gratitude and appreciation to their child.

I remember one instance from my own childhood….

When I was little, on various holidays, days like my mother’s birthday or Mother’s Day, I gave my mother hand-made gifts: drawings, cutouts, or similar things children make. And on my own birthdays or holidays like Christmas I didn’t always get what I wanted.

One time I wanted something specific for one of these occasions. I don’t remember what my wish was, but I didn’t get it. My mother gave me something else. I was very, very sad and disappointed that I didn't get what desired. I expressed my sadness and disappointment to my mother. And she replied by saying something like this, “I didn’t always like my gifts from you either. Maybe sometimes I also would like something better from you than just a hand-made drawing.”

These words just broke my little heart. I was SO sad. I was initially sad because I didn’t get what I wanted, but her response was even more hurtful to me. I empathize that the parent might feel hurt if their child doesn’t like their gift and that they can’t always get what the child wants, but saying to your child that you don’t appreciate their gift is EXTREMELY painful to the child. I mean, the parent is an adult; they don’t need their child’s approval or validation – and on the contrary, the child needs their parents’ approval, validation, and acceptance to survive. This is vital for the child.

I remember feeling rejected, and thinking that my mother doesn’t like my gifts, that the things I make are not valuable, that I am less valuable because my mother doesn’t like my gifts, and that she doesn’t love me. I also felt ashamed and guilty that I've given her gifts which I now felt are not valuable, and that I’m ungrateful because I don’t like my mother’s gift – and that by feeling sad and expressing my feelings I hurt my mother.

It’s extremely important for the child to feel accepted, loved, and appreciated. If the child doesn’t feel that their parents accept them, love them, are grateful, and appreciate them, they develop various mental health problems, like low self-esteem, chronic feelings of depression, insecurity, worthlessness, and many others.

If you have experienced something similar in your childhood, I deeply sympathize with you. You’re always welcome to share your story in the comments below.

Have a meaningful day,
Darius


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