Q: This year has been so chaotic and difficult. I lost a couple of loved ones to the virus, my income dropped significantly, the nation seems to be falling apart -- I really don't feel very grateful for anything. Why should we even bother with a "Thanksgiving" holiday this year?
Jim: While I can understand your feelings -- and I'm truly sorry for your losses -- it's in the middle of difficulty that thankfulness is most profound and healing.
Consider that first Thanksgiving in America. After a 65-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in cold, miserable conditions, less than half of the Mayflower Pilgrims survived that first winter. Despite their adversity, their governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for God's grace and provision.
In 1863, President Lincoln also called for a day of thanksgiving amid difficult times. He and his wife, Mary, were mourning the recent death of their 11-year-old son, Willie. And the country was embroiled in a bloody Civil War. Still, Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November of that year as a day of thanksgiving and prayer. His proclamation said, in part: "In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity ... [our country] has been filled with blessings which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come."
Lincoln's sentiment still resonates today. Americans enjoy so much abundance that we easily forget how blessed we are -- even in the midst of difficulty.
No doubt about it, this has been a tough year. It's not easy to be thankful when life seems so dark. But as Dr. Tim Keller says, "It's one thing to be grateful. It's another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do." And the doing -- pausing to be thankful for what we have -- is important for our emotional and spiritual well-being.
Q: How can I get my kids to stop fighting?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: Researchers report that in families with young children there is at least one sibling conflict every 10 minutes. That's a lot of refereeing from parents every day.
Siblings fight for many reasons -- jealousy, desire for control, being tired or hungry, feeling left out, boredom, competitiveness, frustration, anxiety, stress ... the list goes on. There can be many combinations and possibilities at play when your children choose to argue with one another. But just like they can engage in conflict, they can also participate in the solution.
Start with yourself. What happens when your children have conflict? Do you scream? Do you ignore it and then explode? Or do you just ignore it? Some parents simply let their kids hash it out in the hopes that "they'll figure it out." Your children need your guidance when it comes to resolving conflict and exhibiting empathy and patience as they navigate relationships.
Kids need to develop four key traits to manage sibling disagreements and conflict:
-- Flexibility of mind. Consider the other person's point of view and ask the question, "Is there another way to look at this?" Flexibility of mind allows for compromise and understanding.
-- Humility. Learn to consider the other person as having worth and importance, including their interests, thoughts and opinions. This also means learning to listen to others attentively and genuinely.
-- Patience. Make sure your child knows what this looks like and help him or her see the benefits of patience in relationships. Patience requires self-control.
-- Self-awareness. Your children need to learn to own their contribution to the problem. How well do you model this yourself?
Living with siblings is a great training ground for managing future relationships and learning all about patience, compromise, empathy, humility and other important character qualities.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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