Putting the Thanks-giving into Thanksgiving (for Your Sanity)

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy”

James 1:2 NLT.

It’s not required to have divorced parents to experience challenges around holidays like Thanksgiving. However, parental divorce splits the holiday in two—doubling the potential for challenges. If both of you have divorced parents…

I know James wasn’t thinking of Thanksgiving when he wrote about considering troubles an opportunity for joy, but it’s an important consideration if we desire to embrace the holidays instead of tolerating, dreading, or ignoring them.

TRUST ME! I am not minimizing the craziness I hear from adults with divorced parents when it comes to holidays.

  • Parents that won’t talk to each other about visit arrangements
  • Parents that purposely delay committing to anything so they can mess up the other parent
  • Parents who refuse to budge on when they have you for dinner
  • Parents that won’t come if the other parent’s significant other attends
  • Whatever example is going through your mind right now

But regardless of the things you experience, changing how we perceive situations, combined with use of healthy boundaries, can make a big difference.

  • Are we thankful our two parents divorced? Usually, no. Can we be thankful for two parents who love us enough to fight over us on holidays? Yes.
  • Are we thankful that our parents live in two places? No. Can we be thankful they each have a place to live? Yes.
  • Are we thankful when our parents argue and destroy a mood? Nope. Is there a positive spin on this? You need to pray on that one. But pray through the lens of God’s truth, “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”

In her Divorce Magazine article, “Thanksgiving Challenge: Giving Thanks and Staying Positive”, Dr. Joy Dryer writes about how Positive Psychology/positive emotion can have a strong positive impact on a variety of areas of life including marital satisfaction.1 Is this any different that what James wrote 2000 years ago in the Bible?

The point? Thanks-giving (searching for positives) can increase the odds of experiencing a tolerable Thanksgiving. For many of you, “tolerable” is a reasonable starting point. For others, it’s a stretch. In any case, let’s all start here:

  1. Find things to be thankful for. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Again, I’m not dismissing the challenges many of us face around this time of year, but the research and Bible agree: the attitude we have in situations dictates how they will affect us.
  2. Enjoy being in control. “Whattt?!!!” “Control!?” “The last thing I have during holidays is control!” Not so. You have 100% control over you: how you respond, what you do, what you don’t do, what you don’t say, the bait you don’t take. You are in control of that.
  3. Learn about boundaries and how to apply them. Boundaries by Drs Henry Cloud and John Townsend is a classic book on this topic. And very important for adults with divorced parents.

Make this Thanksgiving a time of thanks-giving, and you’ll have a running start for a Merry Christmas! n

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  1. divorcemag.com/blog/thanksgiving-challenge-giving-thanks-and-staying-positive