Thanks-giving to Parents Who Really Try

Divorce isn’t easy for anyone. Furthermore, on this site I tend to focus on the fallout parental divorce produces—and rightfully so. If adults with divorced parents hope to break the divorce cycle, we need to identify some of the contributing factors.

However, there are countless divorced mothers and fathers and stepmothers and stepfathers who honestly try to minimize the ongoing impact. They accept that hybrid relationships can be difficult, awkward, or confusing for us, even as adults.

Some travel distances to stay involved with us.
Some sacrifice their own happiness because they believe it will help us.
Some refuse to badmouth their ex because that ex is our mother or father.
Some go above and beyond financially to help.
Many display grace when facing new husbands and wives.
Some pursue us even when we push them away.
Many lovingly do the stepparenthood dance of being a parent, yet not being the parent.
Some avoid family functions to decrease our discomfort.
And the list goes on..

If you’re blessed with a parent or stepparent who is described by the list above, first give thanks to God. Unfortunately, these wonderful individuals are not as common as we might hope. Second, give them a call, or a special hug to thank them. Tell them what you are thankful for. You may just give them the best gift they receive this entire holiday season!

Images
Father and daughter by Chany Crystal

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Six Helps for Handling Your First Thanksgiving as a Divorced Family

Before the holidays many articles describe the challenges divorced parents face in making the holidays okay for their kids. Do you keep oldIMGP6979 by siti fatimah traditions or start new ones? Should you let them be with your ex, or have the kids at home?

But what about those who are approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas with divorced parents for the first time?
The emotional turmoil new adult children of divorce experience is great, and no one seems to understand. You don’t even understand, but that’s okay. Here are six steps that aren’t cure alls, but can lay the groundwork for holidays that aren’t horrible:

 1)  Acknowledge the pain. Let’s face it, most of you didn’t want this outcome. It’s important to fess up that you have sorrow, grief, frustration, anger, disappointment, fear, disgust, apprehension, and a host of other feelings because of your parents’ divorce—even if it was anticipated.

2)  Tell someone about the pain. First, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”1 Pray to God and tell Him what’s on your mind—the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly. God can handle it, and He wants to help. Forgiveness by Tiffany ScantleburySecond, talk it out with your spouse or close trusted friend. Verbalizing your feelings can really help to ease your frustrations.

 3)  Go into the holiday with a plan. Where will you spend the holiday, with who, when, and why? Remember, this is your holiday too. In trying to please parents—which is now infinitely more complicated—we lose ourselves causing bitterness, anger, and resentment. Is this the year to stay at home or go to your spouse’s parents for Thanksgiving dinner? What is best for you? As the stewardesses say on the plane, when emergencies happen, put your oxygen mask on first.

4)  Remember everyone is hurting. Like a pebble in a lake, the divorce-ripples affect a lot of people. Siblings, grandparents, kids, even your spouse’s parents and siblings are all caught in this storm. Author and ACOD, Stephanie Staal, says it well, “everyone was comfortable with the extremely uncomfortable situation.”2 Tempers may be short, tears may flow, and tension may be high, but remember, everyone is hurting—even those with smiling faces. And most haven’t acknowledged or shared their pain.girl-talk-by-nathan-rupert

5)  Debrief after the holiday. Within a week, talk through how things went with your spouse or close friend. Grab a coffee somewhere and share your thoughts and emotions. If it was terrible, okay, or somewhere in-between, tell them how and why. Sharing greatly reduces bitterness, anger, and resentment that can taint us and our relationships.

6)  Keep the Thanks-giving in Thanksgiving. Even in this difficult time, you have much to be thankful for. Create a list of the ways God has blessed you this year. Keep it near,and read it regularly. It will remind you to “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”3

Do you have something that worked for you? Please share it as a reply below. Thanks!

 

11 Peter 5:7, NLT
2 Stephanie Staal, The Love They Lost: Living with the legacy of Our Parent’s Divorce, (NY, NY: Delacorte Press, 2000)
31 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

Images
IMGP6979 by siti fatimah
Forgiveness by Tiffany Scantlebury
Girl talk by Nathan Rupert

Stepfamilies and the Holidays

Many adult children of divorce (and their spouses) are networked into a stepfamily. Stepfamilies can add layers of complications to relationships and holiday dynamics.

stepfamily-cartoon-by-dorthy-b-torres

Doing better than “surviving the holidays” begins with understanding what’s really going on. This requires separating fact from fiction. Terry Clark-Jones just posted a strong article titled “Dispel Stepfamily Myths.” She lists ten common stepfamily myths and corresponding truths.The Smart Stepfamily bk

Another organization that offers excellent information about stepfamily dynamics and how to incorporate them successfully is Ron Deals’ Smart Stepfamily ministry. His book and ministry offer solid, truthful, real, and biblical help for all those who are trying to make the stepfamily thing work.

Deep down, our desire is for a family that has “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”1 Seem impossible? “With God all things are possible.”Committing your ways to God and reviewing these resources can be a strong step toward enjoying the holiday season this year!

 

1Galatians 5:22-23, NLT
2Matthew 19:26, NIV

Image
Stepfamily Cartoon by Dorthy B. Torres from stepfamilyrochester.org

Happy Father’s Day, God!

Abba Father,
Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for making it possible through your Son Jesus Christ to be your sons and daughters.Unto Eternity, My Fairest Love by Pnk Sherbet Photography What gift can we possibly give to you, when all we have is from you? The prophet Micah gives us a clue:

“And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God”1

Lord, may we apply this to our relationships with our fathers, step-fathers, fathers-in-law, and ex-step-fathers and wish them all a very Happy Father’s Day. By doing this we offer you the greatest gift—being like your Son Jesus.

1Micah 6:7-8, ESV
Photo: Unto Eternity, My Fairest Love by Pnk Sherbet Photograph

To Those Who Want 2016 to be Better Than 2015

Looking back by Alberto Otero GarciaHow was your 2015? Think about it, but only dwell on the positives. Hard to do? It is for me too. Why is it when we’re asked to assess ourselves we immediately go to the negatives—what didn’t go right, where we messed up, the people who didn’t do what we wanted them to do, the promotion that went to “the wrong person”, or more specific to this ministry, the Christmas gatherings with the various splinters of our family that are more taxing than joyous.

If we are going to have a better 2016, we need to appreciate all God did for us in 2015. For the majority of us, when all of the little and big things that went right are tallied up, it was actually a pretty good year. We have an incredible list of things to be thankful for.

Sunrays through the clouds by Groman123Maybe we were angry, but we didn’t lash out as much. Perhaps at this Thanksgiving’s dinner you chose not to respond to the hurtful thing your parent or stepparent said. Did you know God smiles when we choose to do the right thing? Psalm 103 verse 13 says, “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender andcompassionate to those who fear him.”1

God’s perspective on our lives is important because this year we’re going to look at the various ways our parents’ divorce is still impacting us. Anger, unforgiveness, and triggers are just some of the problems we’ll discuss. But our healing is built on acknowledging and giving thanks to God for how far He has brought us already.

So take time now for one last look at 2015, and may your heart be filled with wonder and thanks for all the ways God is working in your life.

1NLT
Photos:
Looking back by Alberto Otero Garcia
Sunrays through the clouds by Groman 123

A Season of Thanks-giving

Thanksgiving Day in the USA by Life PilgrimThe holiday season has official begun. And while the hustle and bustle brings joy to many, it can be one of the most difficult times of the year for people with divorced parents.

Who joins you for the celebration and who gets first dibs on the grandchildren? Or whose house do you go to—your dad’s, your mom’s, your stepdad’s, your wife’s step-mom’s? The combinations are endless and can make the “most wonderful time of the year1 feel far from it.

So what should we do?

  • Before you grab that cup of coffee, give thanks to God for the coffee.Thankful by ndbutter
  • Before you brush your teeth, give thanks to God that you have teeth (real or otherwise.)
  • Before you kiss your loved one (and I encourage you to kiss your loved one today) give thanks to God for two positive qualities they have.
  • Before you go out to family dinner, thank God for the car, gas in the car, money for gas in the car, things you bring, clothes you wear, and health you have to go.
  • Before relatives come over, give thanks to God that you have a place that is wind and rain shielding, climate controlled, food containing, bed holding, TV(s) occupying, food possessing, and_________(you fill in the blank.)

Giving thanks to God is a powerful antidote for the bitterness that can steal the joy from our holiday season.

An attitude of Thank-God-First
Woman and Bible - Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000Relationships, often mixed with hurt, unforgiveness, anger, resentment, and fears, can act like a cloud that blocks the sunshine and warmth this season can bring. But if we intentionally thank-God-first, our attitudes can change because instead of focusing on what we don’t have or wish we had, we are celebrating God’s great love and provision for us.

The Bible says to “Give thanks in all circumstances.”2 When we intentionally look, we’ll see that we have many things (and people) to be thankful for. And this attitude of thank-God-first can help us to see just how good God has been to us—in spite of the annual fight over the giblets.

 

1”It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, Wyle/Pola; Demi Music Group.
21 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV
Photos:
Thanksgiving Day in the USA by Life Pilgrim
Thankful by ndbutter
Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000

Sharing the Sweetness of Gathering Together

As parents of adult children, my wife and I cherish any time we are all together as a family. Though none of our kids are married yet, they still lead busy lives. Consequently, getting the fam in one place simultaneously becomes more complicated every year..

As a result, these remaining Thanksgiving days are very precious to us. Precious in a way that our kids won’t realize until their kids have flown the nest. Until they experience the thankfulness of nurturing self-sufficient kids and the loss that comes with nurturing self-sufficient kids. But for now, ‘tis so sweet when we’re all together.

While reflecting on this, the words of the Apostle Paul came to mind,solider church 30
“ Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”1

I know people that skip attending church because “you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” True, but if God is our Heavenly Father, I believe He experiences the same joy we feel as parents when all His “kids” get together with Him in church.  My wife and I love being with our son, or our other son, or our daughter, but when we’re all together, as the late Jackie Gleason would say, “how sweet it is.”

So, this Sunday, why not give your Heavenly Father an early Christmas gift—the joy of having all of His kids together—gathering with Him. Call a parent, son or daughter, a friend, or coworker and ask to go to church with them this Sunday. You’ll not only make their whole year, you will put a smile on the face of the Creator of the universe too!

Have a wonderful thanks-giving day!

 

1Hebrews 10:24-25, New Living Translation