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Will your child say grace at Thanksgiving dinner?

Posted by on Nov. 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM
  • 11 Replies

5 Ways for Kids to Give Thanks at Mealtimes


When Sara Zuckerman’s 4-year-old son came home from school one day and asked to "say grace," she thought it was odd.

"We are not a religious family," says Zuckerman, a marketing professional. "Toasting and raising a glass, or just waiting for everyone to be at the table, was our version of grace prior to being parents."

Her son’s request moved her to sing along to the fun yet respectful version of grace he learned in school. It is sung to the classic "Frère Jacques," a tune she remembered from her own school days.

It goes like this:

Please and thank you. Please and thank you. For our food. For our food.

We can eat together. We can eat together. With our friends [or family].

Many parents are trying to find engaging and creative ways to bring saying grace and expressing gratitude into the lives of their young children. We spoke to moms of all backgrounds about their variations. Remember, you can adapt and personalize them to your family's faith tradition.

  1. Giving thanks. "The most effective and lighthearted way to say grace with children is to give thanks," says Rev. Erin Davenport, MSW, director of the Miller Summer Youth Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. "There are many songs and prayers out there that make praying cute and maybe even more memorable." The prayer they use in her home each night goes something like this:

    God, we thank you for this day, we thank you for (insert whoever is sitting at the table with us), we thank you for this food, and we thank you for (let each child say what they are thankful for right then and there). Amen.
    Encouraging kids to think for themselves and speak of things that relate to their world makes it more engaging. "Sometimes, [in] those moments when our son prays, he is most thankful for the villain he just built with blocks; other times, he is thankful for a guest at the table or chocolate milk," she says.

  2. Attitude of gratitude. Julia Angelen Joy is raising her children without a specific religious affiliation but with a practice of gratitude. "I want them to know that they can and should have the habit of showing gratitude for the everyday pleasures," she says. Her children participate in a daily ritual she calls, "High, low, something new you know, and what you are thankful for."
    "We can cover a lot of ground listening to each other's daily highs and lows, what we learned or discovered, and what we are thankful for. It’s simple, even the littlest ones have it memorized, and no one has to be creative or poetic."

  3. Keep it simple. Gratitude is also key at career coach Wanda Sealy’s home. Her children express it simply at each meal:
    I'm thankful for this yummy breakfast (or lunch, dinner, snack) I'm about to receive.

  4. Put it to music and make it rhyme. Many moms say that using music, or a favorite tune, makes any prayer, blessing, or expression of gratitude more fun for kids. "Put it in a song," says relationship coach Deborah Jerome. "Take the words you would use to say grace and put them to a melody. It’s fun and children learn quickly through the use of music." You can make it even more fun if it rhymes (or sort of rhymes). For example, in her home, they like to put a classic prayer to the tune Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star:
    God is great

    God is good
    And we thank him for our food.

  5. Try Girl Scout Graces. Abby Norman, of the Accidental Devotional blog, says she and her children sing Girl Scout Graces that she learned at camp when she was 6 years old. There many of them on the Internet often sung to classic and fun tunes. Here’s one we found that is meant to be sung to the tune of The Addams Family theme song, with snapping fingers.
    We've filled our plates and dishes,
    With food that is nutritious,
    And all that we can wish is,
    To thank you very much.
    Da da da da (snap snap)
    Da da da da (snap snap)
    Da da da da (snap snap)
    Da da da da (snap snap)

Written by Laurie Sue Brockway for The Stir

What are your kids’ favorite ways to say grace or give thanks at mealtime?

by on Nov. 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Sister_Someone
by Member on Nov. 24, 2014 at 10:38 AM

We don't say grace. We're not religious, and I'm philosophically opposed to thanking an abstract... something already for food that I put on the table.

Callaly
by Jessica on Nov. 24, 2014 at 11:11 AM

 Dd is still young, but during thanksgiving we do not say grace, but we do go around the table and say what we are thankful for, and how lucky we are to have food at our table.

Next year we will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen.

Jenn8604
by on Nov. 24, 2014 at 11:19 AM
1 mom liked this
Hopefully you have taught her to thank the cook who prepares her meals. Whether you or grandma or whoever you're eating with.

Quoting Sister_Someone:

We don't say grace. We're not religious, and I'm philosophically opposed to thanking an abstract... something already for food that I put on the table.

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Jenn8604
by on Nov. 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM
1 mom liked this
We're working on that kind of speech process still. He can only request things, and answer yes and no questions right now. For prayers he repeats only bits and pieces of what's said. So far, after about 2 years, he's mastered praying for a service dog and a daddy and finishing the prayer with In Jace anen *In Jesus name amen* unsure how much he will repeat but we shall try.
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Cafe AmyS
by on Nov. 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM

That's a wonderful tradition.

Volunteering at a soup kitchen is a great way to teach your children to be grateful!

Quoting Callaly:

 Dd is still young, but during thanksgiving we do not say grace, but we do go around the table and say what we are thankful for, and how lucky we are to have food at our table.

Next year we will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen.


cjsmom1
by Group Admin on Nov. 25, 2014 at 2:05 AM

We don't say grace

Karen24
by Silver Member on Nov. 25, 2014 at 2:38 AM
We don't usually say grace but outside of mealtime I do encourage my kids to think about what they are thankful for.
Ms_Mo
by on Nov. 25, 2014 at 8:07 AM
2 moms liked this

I teach my kids to be respectful, grateful and thankful for what they have because any given circumstance can change life as we know it. Something so small can be taken for granted, until it's realized that it missing.  We do this before every meal, not just because of the holidays.

moosesmom
by Silver Member on Nov. 25, 2014 at 8:02 PM
3 moms liked this
I grew up saying grace and our family says it now. During large family dinners we allow the little ones to say grace. My son (4yrs) isn't allowed to say grace at the moment. At a recent dinner, a friend of ours said grace (it was super long) and now my son thinks his prayers should sound like hers. It was cute at first but it's annoying now. A few minutes of mumbling and he'll randomly through someone's name in the prayer. Good grief. Well stick to the standard "God is great, God is good..."
Mommy2Boys0900
by Unique Yanique on Nov. 25, 2014 at 8:42 PM
1 mom liked this
Both of my boys say grace before they eat. Sometimes my youngest son will say, mommy you didn't say grace (I actually never do) but he only notices sometimes.
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