Now that the holidays are here we are being encouraged to reflect on all of the things in our lives that we appreciate—our families, our homes, our friends. We are prompted on all sides to express our gratitude for the things in our lives that we might have a tendency to take for granted. But how do you express gratitude for something you never wanted in the first place?
Children who have been removed from their families often have difficulty during these holidays specifically because the things that they want to have and to celebrate are not available to them. Simply put, they want to go home and they want to be with their families but is not an option for them and, because it’s not, their reactions are perceived as ungrateful. Displaced children can become agitated and defiant throughout the holiday season, making it seem as though they do not appreciate the traditional values of family, charity and community. The reality is that they are acutely aware of those things and they are missing them.
As caregivers of these children, it is imperative to remember that, despite all the material things that can be given to them, the one thing that these children really want is the one thing that they cannot have. The disappointment that stems from not being allowed the one thing they want is the catalyst for the negative behaviors that seem to abound. These negative behaviors can lead people to believe that these children are ungrateful and unappreciative of the people who care for them and provide them with the material things that they need.
However, they are not ungrateful. They are not dismissive of the blessings that they have received. What they are, is hurting–and in their hurt, they lash out. Children in this situation are no different than anyone else, we all tend to react to the things that hurt us more immediately while being slower to appreciate the stable good in our lives. Isn’t that in the spirit of the Holidays, to reflect on all the things we should be grateful for that we don’t always show appreciation for?