EM: The most important word your children can learn.


Em Rusciano with kids, Marchella and Odette.





I expect my children to be grateful for all the things I do for them, I bloody mean it.

I don’t go in for this “I’m a mum, it’s just what we do” business. Who says that? Who says that as mothers we are to wipe shit, work, cook, drive, clean, drive, drive, drive because we are programmed to do so out of some kind of natural maternal instinct that kicks in the moment they pop out.

Bullshit. I think some children believe that it is in their mother’s DNA to love soaking their skiddy jocks, ironing their shirts and baking the entire class gluten, nut, wheat, dairy and integrity free cakes for the fete. Sorry dick heads, it isn’t. (I’m sure your child isn’t a dick head, I just got a bit caught up, forgive me.)

I’m busting that well worn theory right open. As always — if you are a woman who thrives on doing countless tasks for your children and the only thanks you require is the happy smile on their faces, then GREAT! Well done and what are you smoking?


I am a firm believer in teaching children about true gratitude. As soon as our kids can sit upright, we teach them “ta”. They have no idea what it means but they do know they’ll get another tiny teddy to suck the soul out of and smash up their noses so they say it, over and over again. As they get older, we drill “please” and “thank-you” into them, so that they will be able to trot it out for elderly relatives and for when they are in public and you are being judged by their manners. The thing is, I am pretty sure that most small people don’t really feel the thanks they are expressing. I want my kids to actually BE grateful, not just encourage them to be.


Yesterday, when my glorious Odette came home from school, I sat her down and explained how I had to save the life of her beloved Toby the wonder dog (he must always be referred to as thus, never just Toby) because of those f*cking teen tiny elastic bands that I bet your children are currently making bracelets, rings and other worthless miniature pieces of crap out of. (FYI – I could have written a whole post about those things, and the unholy craft circles that are evolving at primary schools around the world.)

I explained to Odie that Toby the wonder dog keeps eating them and I had to wrench a few out today as he was choking on them. Toby the wonder dog’s breath smells like arse by the way, not just regular arse but really rank cheesy arse. I must take him to the vet soon, something has died in there I am sure of it.

Odie thanked me for saving her dog. I asked her if she really meant that? She thought about it and said: “Yes, I think so”. I wasn’t convinced so I made her smell Toby the wonder dog’s breathe. It was only then she truly understood and appreciated my act of valour. She became the thank you instead of just saying it. I know, meta.


I get that most 4-year-olds can’t really get over themselves enough to show a bit of thanks, but in my opinion, from prep onwards, we be getting on the true blue gratitude train little one.

Teaching your children to truly appreciate you helping them will set them in good stead for the rest of their life. Instead of them becoming selfish little bastards, they will be gracious, thoughtful and probably go on to become President of the United States. (Shut up, I am having a moment.)

Dr Jeffrey J. Froh, a psychology professor who has conducted eight gratitude studies over the past three years (yes, it would seem they will hand over grant money for ANYTHING these days) says that, “Gratitude opens you up to the abundance that is out there and lets you recognise the goodness in your life, a grateful child feels more connected and loved. After all, if he’s able to understand that many others care enough to make an effort for him, his life is improved.”

William Shakespeare totes gets my vibe, he wrote: “Ingratitude! Thou marble-hearted fiend, more hideous when thou show’st thee in a child than the sea-monster!”


What’s your stance on ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’ from kids? Do they have to really mean it?

Catch Em’s hilarious new show, Divorce: The Musical, at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It’s playing in the Trades Hall from 27 March-20 April.

You can buy tickets here.