The child of divorce benefits from an attitude of gratitude





Is there really any good that comes out of being thankful? Does being thankful actually change a person’s attitude? There is a lot of brain research that shows this to be true. Plus, God’s Word tells us to be thankful.

First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Children of divorce particularly need to learn how to be grateful. You may be wondering how children of divorce could be grateful. Or why they need to be grateful. There is a great article, “The Grateful Brain” that is chock-full of research that can help us better understand why children of divorce need to be filled with thankfulness.

Brains on gratitude

  • Children who show appreciation are overall happier and have better attitudes because they feel better about themselves.
  • Being grateful lessens depression.
  • Being thankful increases sleep.
  • Brains in grateful people showed higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. Don’t let this big word scare you off. The hypothalamus, simply put, controls a lot of essential bodily functions. It also influences metabolism and stress levels. Kids of divorce need help in lowering their stress levels.
  • Research also shows that brains on gratitude have higher levels of dopamine, the feel-good chemical. Dopamine helps one’s mood and it gives us a better emotional outlook. Dopamine releases when one recognizes being grateful for something.

My Canadian pastor friend, Charles Stone, writes in his article, Gratitude:  The Brain’s Amazing Fertilizer, says being grateful

  • Can give one more energy.
  • Helps one become more other-centered. We know kids from divorced homes get caught in the quagmire of seeing selfish parents fight back and forth. They need to learn about being other-centered.
  • Can help fight negativity and negative emotions. Kids in divorced home see a lot of negativity and we need to help them (and their single parent) fight ways to combat the negativity.

Help children of divorce to find and see things they can be thankful for. It can be simple things such as,

  • Having some place to sleep (or having two homes to sleep in)
  • Having enough food to eat
  • Being grateful for their pet
  • Thanking God for their church and for you
  • Having a car so they don’t have to walk everywhere

It may take some practice to help them remember to be thankful. Once kids get in the habit of being thankful, it will become easier for them.

Thanksgiving is a good time to start a new ritual—the thankful ritual. After Thanksgiving ask them every week what they have to be thankful or grateful for. Perhaps start a yearly journal and record the things they say they are thankful for. At the end of a few months review the list.


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on November19, 2014. 

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