In July, 2014, Robert Emmons, PhD, University of California at Davis, gave a talk at Biola University. During the question and answer session after his prepared remarks, Dr. Emmons was asked about teaching and instilling gratitude in kids. Here’s his response:
“We’ve done research on kids and their parents. Parents want to know “What’s the best way to teach gratitude to my kids?” That’s the number one question that parents have. The number one fear that parents have is that their kids will grow up to be entitled…They’re asking, “How can I prevent my kids from becoming entitled?” From that question, they want to talk with us because they see gratitude as the solution. Part of the problem – and this is the answer that they don’t want to hear – is that you cannot give to your kids what you yourself don’t have. If the parents themselves don’t have gratitude, they can’t transmit gratitude because of what they say…So we find that it’s modelling gratitude, it’s reinforcing gratitude, those are the two main behaviors that parents engage in. That is the way that gratitude gets transmitted inter-generationally.”
Dr. Emmons’ research and his remarks reinforce Lee Brower’s and Empowered Wealth’s ideas about Gratitude as the antidote to entitlement and other forms of ingratitude, lack of fulfillment, and lack of meaning in life. Dr. Emmons also affirms our notion of character and the way to lead families, groups, and organizations: be the change you want to see in the world. In this case, be the most grateful person you can be.