Give THANKS IN ALL Things
“..give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:18
You’ve likely read the above verse dozens of times. But as a busy parent in the midst of raising kids, how can you remember to actually do it? In a season of thanksgiving, it can become a daily focal point…at least for the 30 days of November. But God wants this to be a lifestyle, an attitude, a way of thinking. Reread the verse. It does not say FOR what is happening but rather IN. Do not “fake it” and give thanks FOR the tough stuff life throws at you. Rather, always give thanks IN the midst of whatever circumstances. And yes, that nagging word ALL does literally mean in ALL circumstances. That means the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are some different areas to remember to give thanks IN when you are IN the midst of them as a parent.
T – antrums
Whether it is a toddler tantrum at Target or a teenage tantrum about curfew, you have likely experienced your fair share. Do not get me wrong, there is not a ton that is beautiful or life-giving about the actual tantrum. BUT even in the midst of a tantrum, it’s possible to be thankful for the gift of a tantrum-tossing child! Somehow, someway can you be grateful for the voice and opinion that your child is developing? Yes, the emotional expression needs to get honed-in and corrected, but at least the emotions are coming out and being expressed as opposed to stuffed away. Tantrums can actually be a sign that your child feels safe enough in your home to express his/her feelings! Give thanks IN the tantrums.
H – ardships
The phone call from the principal or the possibility of having to repeat a high school class can incite dread, anger, disappointment, and more in a parent’s heart. Yet even these hardships are opportunities for character development for you and your child…IF you choose to make it one. Allow God to use your parenting approach in the midst of hardships to guide your child in the way he/she should go. What is God trying to teach or show you? Your child? Do not lose heart for this trial too can be used for His glory and goodness down the road. Give thanks IN the hardships.
A – nnoyances
If you are a parent like me who enjoys a well-planned schedule, interruptions to that can drive you bonkers. The forgotten homework assignment that needs to get delivered to school or the inopportune errand that must be urgently run can ruin your best-laid plans. But instead of seeing them as annoyances, what if these are necessary interruptions? What if God is trying to remind you to make room not only for the unexpected but even just to create plain-old breathing room for yourself and for Him? Give thanks IN the annoyances, seeing them as reminders to pause, breathe, and relax.
N – o’s
I’m guessing your toddler’s first response word was not “Yes”, but rather “No”. That can be like nails on the chalkboard when your request to do homework, pick up a bedroom, or go to bed is a big, fat, “NO!” Keep calm and parent on! It can be easy to lose your cool and assert that you are the parent and “NO!” is not an acceptable response. But look at your child and his/her personality. What if it is not defiance but rather a strong personality who simply knows what he/she wants? Maybe your child is going to stand up boldly and speak up rather than be a “yes” man/woman. Give thanks IN the No’s.
K – id conflict
I know I have played referee or judge-and-jury one too many times in my children’s squabbles with one another. It just seems “easier” if I intervene and coach, right? But the easier way is not always the best way. Many of the times that kid conflict arises, you need to allow them an opportunity to work it out themselves. Of course, they need to be coached and protected, but not always with word-for-word scripting or immediate intervention. Give thanks IN the kid conflict as it can develop essential relationship and conflict resolution skills that your child will carry into his/her future workplace and homes
S – ervitude
Being a parent is often synonymous with being a servant. You constantly take care of your kids’ basic needs serving them with food, housing, clothing, transportation, and more. And often that parental servitude is not received with gratitude from your child. And even more often it is hard to give thanks for the dirty service work like poopy diapers, another load of laundry, or endless hours of homework. But stop and see the blessing that you get to do these things. See these service opportunities as modeling moments as you train your child for his/her future. Give thanks IN the servitude. After all, it makes us more like Jesus, the ultimate example of servitude and sacrifice.