Fortunately / Unfortunately: our thankfulness game

August 15, 2012

Back in my teaching days (I used to teach second grade) I stumbled upon a fun picture book called “Fortunately.”

The main character is taken on a wild adventure filled with fortune and misfortune.  It goes something like this:

Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.
Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.

Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.

Unfortunately, the motor exploded.

Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.

Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.

It’s a cute story, but the deeper lesson is one that I carried with me.  What deeper lesson you ask?  That there is always something to be thankful for!  In many ways this has become a mantra in my home and is something I seek to remind myself and my children of when we become frustrated, sad or disappointed.

Our “fortunately/unfortunately game” is one that we play from time to time when we feel down as a way of helping us to remember to look for the blessings.

For example:

-If my glass gallon milk jar just shattered all over my countertop (true story), I might say, “Unfortunately, I just destroyed that glass jar which was super helpful at storing our milk.  Fortunately, we are blessed enough to be able to buy another jar and no one got hurt by the glass!”

-If my attempting to potty train 3 year old just happened to pee all over his chair (true story), I might say, “Unfortunately, Quinten just made a huge mess of pee for me to clean up.  Fortunately, he didn’t also poop!”

I find that I need to be willing to lead by example with this game.  Once my kids hear me being willing to express not only my true disappointment, but my effort to look for the good in the situation, they become more comfortable as I encourage them to do the same in those tender, teachable moments.

Since introducing this game to our kids a few years ago, they have shared their own version of fortunately/unfortunately with me, unprompted, on many occasions.  Two years ago when our oldest son (who is now nine) broke his arm, he declared between his sobs, “I’m really glad that in Heaven there is no pain!” Not too long after that he stated, “I am really glad I didn’t break either of my feet!” Later it was, “I’m really glad we came to the doctor, there are so many interesting things here!” and my personal favorite was “Pretty lucky day!” which he said after he got a free pair of comfortable pants from the nurses.  More recently Hunter shared his disappointment with the way his video game ended but reminded himself how fortunate it was that he even got to play.  It blesses my heart each time I hear my children look for the good while struggling with a disappointment.

What do you think? Is this something that would work in your home?

If you missed it previously, you might also enjoy reading about our “opposite game” that we use from time to time as a fun way to get things done!

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