In the beginning, children are grateful mostly because we drill them that gratitude is a responsible and respectful way to be human. We teach them to say “thank you.” We follow them from porch to porch and ensure that they give thanks to everyone who throws candy in their buckets at Halloween. All that. But then something happens. They forget what gratitude means.
Or maybe they never really learned it at all? Maybe it was all just part of the processing we pushed onto them early in life? Whatever the case, something does happen. They show less and less gratitude toward things parents bestow upon them. They come to expect things. And when you expect things to be done for you, you take the people for granted who do them. When I was a boy we were taught to show respect to others, especially elders (and especially our parents), or else face the iron fist of the law. This was something that all my friends down South grew up with. When Yankee children moved into our neighborhood, me and my friends were in awe at how they back-talked their parents without fear of repercussion. I married a Yankee. Our children don’t have it like I did. But it’s a little more strict today than how my wife grew up, too. And right now our children are going through phases where they seem to be more focused on self, rather than the whole of the family. I share this to show that nothing is ever perfect in life. Despite what some people on Facebook might lead you to believe through their posts there. Children are strange and beautiful creatures who are in an extreme state of metamorphosis. I don’t blame them for being self-centered. I was too, despite how I was conditioned to react to these changes methodically and with robotic respect. I can only hope that this phase of parenting goes smoothly. And that I somehow find the strength to get through it without being a total dick who my children come to resent.