by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
Millions of parents will pause this Thanksgiving to do what the day was originally created for -- give thanks for the many blessings that exist in their lives. Turkey, pumpkin pie, and the presence of loved ones will receive their fair share of gratitude during this annual ritual of appreciation. The abundance provided by the universe, opportunities for meaningful work, and the laughter of children will be acknowledged with gratitude by loving parents as they thank the creator for their blessings. Indeed, this traditional day calls for a traditional thank-you.
But what if your appreciation this Thanksgiving took on a new look? What if the blessings you count this year included situations that aren't usually regarded as helpful, useful or valuable? Consider the following.
Why not be thankful that your child is two years behind grade level in his reading ability? This struggling reader is giving you the opportunity to read to him regularly at night. This evening ritual will help build connectedness between you and your child while at the same time modeling your love for the printed word. This opportunity is an incredible blessing. Appreciate it.
Why not be thankful that your daughter's soccer team lost their last game? It is important that your children have experiences of both winning and losing. By losing, children have the opportunity to learn to handle defeat and bounce back next time. With your help, they can learn that winning or losing is not the measure of who and what they are as human beings. Appreciate the opportunity the loss brings and be grateful for it.
Why not be thankful that your teenager received a speeding ticked for going 45 mph in a 25 mph speed zone? Getting a ticket is not a bad thing. Not if your teen learns from it and slows her driving for the next year. If she takes personal responsibility, pays the ticket, and is more cautious about her driving, the ticket may well save her life in the future. Bless the ticket and give thanks for its blessings.
Why not be thankful that your 8-year-old shoplifted in the grocery store? This is the perfect time to teach your child about shoplifting. Better now than when he helps himself to someone else's car when he is 18. Teach him how to make amends. Teach him what to say as he returns the candy bars to the store owner. Help him learn to articulate what he learned and what he intends to do differently next time. Be grateful for the opportunity.
Why not be thankful that your youngsters track mud and sand into the garage and house? The next time you stand in the garage furiously sweeping sand and wishing that your children were better behaved, quietly remind yourself that one day you'll wish you had sand to sweep out of the garage. Love the mud. Love the sand. Be grateful for the signs of the presence of children in your life.
Why not be thankful for sibling rivalry? "He got more than I did" and "It isn't fair" are common childhood refrains. Bless these opportunities to help your children learn how to get along with each other. Sibling rivalry is a call for help, a signal that your children need lessons on how to interact positively with each other. Bless their unskillful way of asking for help. Be grateful that you recognize it and help them grow in working and playing cooperatively.
Why not be thankful that you got to stay home with a sick child last week? You didn't have to stay home. You got to stay home. You didn't have to take him to the doctor. You got to take him to the doctor. You got to show him you care enough to drive all over town to the doctors, the pharmacists and back home again. You got to be with your boy while he was sick. Chalk it up as a blessing. Celebrate it this Thanksgiving.
Why not give thanks that your child is spilling milk, talking with his mouth full, wiping cranberry sauce on his new pants, refusing to eat his vegetables, and interrupting his grandmother at the dinner table this day? It means you have more work to do as a parent. This is a blessing. You are still needed to help your child learn to pour milk more carefully, improve his table manners, learn to eat nutritiously, and show respect for elders. Give thanks for these opportunities.
This Thanksgiving remember that parenting is a sacred role that you are being called to perform. Give thanks that you have been called. Give thanks that you are willing to step forward and accept that call. Celebrate yourself and your contribution to healing the planet by helping your children evolve into the people they were meant to be. You are a blessing to the world. Give thanks that you are up to the task.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. www.chickmoorman.com or www.thomashaller.com.
Copyright © Thomas Haller & Chick Moorman. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.