Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Operation "Thankful Heart": An Experiment in Gratefulness

This article was featured in The Gazette and Pikes Peak Parent:

Recently, my husband and I were discussing the effects on our children of living in America, both positive and negative. On the negative side, living in wealth in comparison to most of the world, can tend to create a lack of thankfulness among the youth of our country, which we have tried to combat.   For instance we don’t allow grumbling at the table and have taken them to the poorest of the poor in other nations to see them live daily and to volunteer with the homeless in our city. 

This is what I thought I'd get
Our discussion led to an experiment, we dubbed “Operation Thankful Heart.” We decided to make the same boring meal every night for a week without letting them know that they were our “lab rats.” The idea was to see how many complaints we got in seven days. The recipe had to be something not one of the five of us loved or hated, which was almost impossible to find, since we eat a variety of Thai, curry and other wonderful ethnic dishes.

My favorite, Butter Chicken Curry
I chose a crock pot meal that involved chicken served over rice. During the week I actually had a pad of paper out of view that was meant to record hash marks of how many complaints I heard at dinner. We had some astonishing results, which turned my hypothesis upside down.  All in all, my husband and I struggled more than our kids did. He and I  began to ponder how many people in the world eat only to sustain their existence and not for pleasure. On the plus side, there was no thought about what to make or how to make it as I could have added the ingredients blindfolded by the third day.

Thai, "yum"
Here were our results: Each night our children thanked us for dinner. On day four our twelve year old asked us how many more days we would have the dish. At that point we began to have discussions about how many children worldwide eat one meal every three days and how food wasn’t for enjoyment for them but instead used to keep them alive.

Moroccan, My new Fave
Besides a single tear that trickled from an eye on day seven, there was not one complaint, which a pleasant surprise.  I will say I threw the recipe away and will never make it again. My husband and I plan to repeat the lesson once a year if only for our own hearts. There has even been talk of walking each day to the market to get our dinner like most of our third world friends when we revisit the idea. As for tonight Moroccan was on the menu.  Thank God.

Rebecca Dunning is an award winning author/writer living in Colorado Springs.  She has written two children's books, The Real-Life Princess and Beetle Hunter.  Rebecca can be found at www.rebeccadunning.com.


JDaniel4's Mom said...

The grateful heart is something we are working on at meals too.

Stopping from Mom Loop!

Rebecca Dunning said...

Yes, it's a never ending battle isn't it?

Lolo said...

These words come in a mcuh needed time for our family! I fell my kids are starting to become ungrateful and not only with meals...
Hopped from Voice Boks
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