The Power of Gratitude for Parents

Father’s Day, one of our universal, secular holidays is intended to have individuals of all ages formally celebrate their father’s contributions in raising, loving, supporting, teaching and helping mold them into the great beings they have become. Though fathers have willingly and enthusiastically done so, and some claim to need no gratitude, being appreciated contributes to their esteem and personal wellbeing.

Receiving affirmations is one of the building blocks of all individuals’ development that helps sustains humans’ self-worth. Parents care for, teach, guide, love, console and facilitate their children’s growth and maturation and deserve the appropriate kudos for these essential contributions throughout their lives.

In “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude that Will Motivate You to Give Thanks Year-Round”, Amy Morin, a lecturer at Northeastern University and a best selling author, cites research documenting that, “1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. 2. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. 3. Gratitude improves physical health by increasing happiness while reducing depression. 4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. 5. Grateful people sleep better. 6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. 7. Grateful people have been found to be more resilient and experienced less post-traumatic Stress Disorder.”

Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman Of the University of Pennsylvania, considered by many as “The father of Happiness”, documented in a study of 411 people that “those who wrote a letter of gratitude to someone who has not been properly thanked, immediately exhibited a huge increase in their happiness scores.”

Not all studies about gratitude rendered identical results, but participants often reported feeling better about themselves after affirming others. Perhaps, the mere experience of getting in touch with kindness, gratitude and appreciation of others helps us feel more bonded and connected to ourselves and helps us become more forgiving of our less than endearing traits.

Be grateful and appreciative of your father today:

  • Access your gratitude for the benefits and help you received from your father.
  • State your appreciation to your father by citing some memories that support your gratitude. It will warm his heart, increase his self-esteem as a father and accentuate his gratitude for having a son/daughter like you.
  • Realize that being valued as a father and thanked for specific traits and behaviors are immense psychological gifts that can only be given by you and your siblings.
  • Know that validation and appreciation brings people together and bonds them in a unique measure of love.
  • Know that a Happy Father’s Day is a gift to Dad and the whole family!

A note for mothers:

  • Make sure that your young or mature children realize how meaningful their gratitude to their father is and how deeply pleased he will be by their kind words.
  • Guide your young children in composing notes, drawings or songs and aid them in the preparation for the delivery of their appreciative messages in the most meaningful way.
  • Help your young children by encouraging them to recall their father’s devotion, dedication, fun and joyous experiences with them.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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