The highest barrier to my kids saying “thank you” is the person they most often need to thank: their dad. At least for the small things. The bowl of cereal or the cup of water or the handful of strawberries. All the times I clean up their mess or pick up their toys or carried them upstairs at night. Their mom, too. But I have a hard time enforcing it. I don’t need my kids’ thanks. Maybe I don’t think I deserve it. Maybe I think it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe I am too eager to please them or pretend I am a peer rather than a providing and demanding guardian. Or maybe it feels too much like a formality, like it is just words, somehow inauthentic.