Parenting Matters: Lights go out and on

Last Friday didn’t start out very well. The lights were out when it was time to get up and get the children ready for school.

Last Friday didn’t start out very well. The lights were out when it was time to get up and get the children ready for school.

The alarm clock didn’t ring. We didn’t know if there would be school or not. There wasn’t enough hot water to take showers.

Our phones didn’t work right and nothing rang when we called. Obviously, we couldn’t see what was happening on our television that didn’t work. We couldn’t even toast our toast.

It was a tough and an amazing time.

The reasons it was tough are clear. The amazing part is paying attention to the things we take for granted. Not many of us appreciate the power lines that we wish weren’t there. We get angry when the phone doesn’t operate correctly and ignore all the wonderful changes that have come about in recent years on our phones.

It takes something like a power outage to get us to appreciate what we use all the time and assume should be working.

This happens in life, too. It takes events such as what has happened in Paris to appreciate that it hasn’t happened here yet. It takes watching the weather back east to be pleased with our weather here.

It takes fires to our east to appreciate our lack of fires here.

Stop and consider …

Maybe what we all need to do is learn to appreciate what we have even when we have it. Maybe we all need to pay attention to our happiness more. How good is your marriage? What makes your partner special?

What do your children do that makes you happy? Do you appreciate how your yard looks? Have you noticed how beautifully green the lawns all over town are getting? Do you look forward to the mail delivery that comes almost every day?

Have you noticed the birds we are lucky to have around to entertain us? Do you appreciate the taste of the water you drink and pay attention to areas in the world that are not that fortunate?

We have many things to be thankful for as Thanksgiving Day nears. We all need to take it seriously and teach our children to appreciate the many things and opportunities they have. Yes, they can be very excited to get the toy they wanted or the phone they were hoping for but it goes a lot deeper than that. What about the lessons all around us?

These are lessons that are as important to teach a child every day as much as other lessons we know they should learn. They also are lessons that many of us ignore and fail to teach. We can change that. Let’s do it.

Talk with your child or children and see what they are thankful for. Do they mention people like grandparents or parents or brothers or sisters? Help your child really give some thought to what they have that others don’t have. It isn’t just money or things. It’s love, relationships, opportunities.

Sometimes the more we have the less we appreciate. That goes for things and for lights. Maybe we learn lessons of appreciation because the lights don’t go on.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.