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Thanksgiving…A Day or Always?

Thanksgiving is more than a seasonal discussion of gratitude…more than a big family meal…more than a day of watching football. Thanksgiving, in my opinion, is a way of life. A lifestyle of thanksgiving provides many benefits to a family life. In fact, after reading these five benefits of thanksgiving, you might decide to let the day of Thanksgiving this year “jump start” a whole year of gratitude for your family.

  • A lifestyle of thanksgiving teaches us to appreciate the blessings we have. A thankful family replaces a sense of entitlement with an appreciation for the unearned gifts received…gifts like someone doing our laundry, preparing our meals, or paying the bills to keep our house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A lifestyle of thanksgiving will takes us a step further to realize that every breath we take, every heartbeat that sends blood coursing through our body, and every time we run down the stairs are gifts we have been freely given. We truly are a blessed people.
  • Count Your Blessings on a cork notice boardThanksgiving replaces a selfish attitude with an attitude of generosity. As we realize how much we have received and how freely it was given, our desire to share will increase. We will become more generous. Generosity in a family leads to more acts of kindness and sharing…something else for which we can give thanks.
  • Thanksgiving helps us develop greater peace of mind. When we neglect to offer thanks for the gifts we have received, our selfish desires grow. We look at what we do not have and experience want, a growing desire for more. We experience envy. We grow demanding. A lifestyle of thanksgiving puts our desire in perspective. Thanksgiving turns our focus toward the blessings we have received, the abundant material blessing we have, and the amazing opportunities each day presents. Gratitude replaces desire and envy. Giving thanks replaces demanding. A lifestyle of thanksgiving helps us focus on how much we have to be thankful for.
  • A lifestyle of thanksgiving increases our joy and hope. As we focus on the blessings and gracious gifts we have received, we build a joyous past. We nurture an expectation that our future will be provided as well. We no longer need to worry and fret over what the future holds. Instead, the joys of thanksgiving will have strengthened the realization that God does provide and that life is good. We will have established a hope based on the memories of thanksgiving, a hope that God will also take care of our tomorrow. No need to worry, give thanks.
  • A lifestyle of thanksgiving even helps make tough times more bearable. For three ways thanksgiving does this read Intentional Gratitude.

A lifestyle of thanksgiving can benefit our families all year long! Why not let this season of Thanksgiving “jump start” a year of gratitude for your family? You can practice thanksgiving all year round by starting a thanksgiving tree, a gratitude journal, or simply making a point of thanking one another every day for something. Believe me, the benefits will prove priceless!

How to Win the Parent-Child Conflict

When parent-child conflicts arise (and they will!), it does no good if the child always wins and gets his way. The conflict is really not resolved if the parent pulls rank, asserts parental power, and enforces parental wishes either. Just consider how you managed your parents pulling rank and using power to make you do what they wanted. Most children resist, defy, resent, blame or lie. Children in this situation may also retaliate, court the favor of one parent over the other, become fearful of  trying anything new, grow insecure in their own ability and seek constant reassurance, or form alliances with siblings against the parents. None of these help children learn, grow, or mature. So, what can a parent do to resolve a conflict and help their child grow during parent-child conflicts arise? I’m glad you asked.

First, realize that most parent-child conflicts arise out of a conflict of needs. Both the parent and the child have a need they want to satisfy…and they clash! Begin a healthy resolution of the conflict by accepting that your child has a legitimate need. Respect their desire to have that need met in an appropriate way. Modeling respect and honor for your child’s needs will establish the foundation for the next steps in resolving the parent-child conflict…and, it increases the likelihood that your child will listen to, honor, and respect your needs as well.   

Second, take time to discuss the conflict with your child. Set aside enough time to discuss each of your needs as well as mutually acceptable ways to meet those needs. Having this type of discussion does more than offer an opportunity to resolve the conflict. This discussion also helps your child develop thinking and problem-solving skills. It can also lead to better solutions; and, since your child has had input and an investment of time in devising the solution, it may also lead to greater motivation from your child to comply with the solution. To have an effective conflict discussion with your child, you will need the time to cover these 6 steps:

      1.    Identify and define the problem. This will involve defining the parents’ needs and the child’s needs. We often need to differentiate needs from requests. For instance, “I need my own room” is more of a request than a need. You can ask what this request will “do for you” to get at the deeper need.  Listen closely and attentively to understand your child’s needs. The goal of this step is to clearly state the problem and each person’s needs in a manner that both parent and child can agree upon and understand.


2.   Generate possible solutions. Come up with as many solutions to the problem as you can. Do not evaluate, judge or belittle any ideas. Simple accept the ideas as they arise. Make sure each person contributes to the possible solutions.


3.   Evaluate the alternative solutions. Now you can consider each of the solutions from step 2 and evaluate each one. Which ones look best? Which will produce positive results for parent and child? Which are acceptable to each person involved? What are the possible negative results?


4.   Decide on the best solution. Based on the evaluations of step 3, agree on a solution to “try out.” Remember, the solution is not a rigid permanent requirement set in stone but a flexible dynamic process; you can always try the solution out and modify it as needed. Before moving to step 5, clarify that each person is willing to make a commitment to carry out the agreed upon solution.


5.   Implement the solution. This step will most likely include a clarification of how you will implement the solution. Who does what? When? How often? To what standard? Again, remember that these specifics can be modified as needed.


6.   Evaluate. After implementing the solution for a short time, check back to evaluate its effectiveness. Are both the child’s and the parent’s needs met? Do you need to tweak the solution to make it more effective? Now is the time to do it.

You may think this process seems time consuming; but, it is not as time consuming as forcing a solution that you then have to enforce, remind, nag, and push. This process brings greater compliance, so less reminding, nagging, and pushing. Of course, this process will not work with every situation (what does?). However, when parents practice this method as often as they can, their children cooperate more, trust grows, conflict declines, and children’s problem solving skills increase. Really, isn’t that worth the time?

A Reminder of What It’s All About

I often have to remind myself about the priorities in my life, the goals I want to accomplish, and the reasons I do what I do. A “time of reminding” has come for me at Honor Grace Celebrate. One of the best ways for me to recall my goals and direction is through writing. So, I want to use this blog to remind myself about what it means to practice honor, grace, and celebration in the family; and, why I write blogs for Honor Grace Celebrate. Hopefully, as I write this reminder we will all be reminded to practice honor, grace, and celebration in our family…after all, I truly believe that when families practice honor, grace, and celebration they find greater family intimacy and joy.  I also believe God designed the family to be a place of honor, grace, and celebration. So what does honor, grace, and celebration have to do with family?

 

Healthy families honor one another. Honor builds a safe haven where family members can find value and esteem; a place where each person is highly valued, like diamonds above coal.  In a family of honor, each family member honors one another with words and actions that communicate value and respect. Family members seek to learn about the ones they value—learning about their interests, vulnerabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. And, each person keeps that knowledge in mind when interacting with one another. Healthy families seek out ways to honor one another by accepting differences, engaging in acts of kindness, and showing politeness at all times. Yes, healthy families honor one another.

 

Healthy families share grace with one another. They become a reliable sanctuary, a secure base, where each person knows grace and feels safe. A person living in a family of grace will receive unconditional acceptance and extravagant generosity…with no strings attached. Family members will share the gift of themselves by generously giving of their time and attention in order to connect intimately with one another. In a gracious family, family members willingly sacrifice their individual wants and desires to enhance the well-being of other family members and to build intimacy and joy in the family. Yes, healthy families share grace.

 

Healthy families celebrate! A family built on honor and grace opens the door to celebrate, laugh, and play. In a family where everyone experiences acceptance and love, each family member can “let their hair down and completely reveal themselves.” In a family of honor and grace, family members can know one another intimately and rejoice in that intimacy. Yes, healthy families celebrate with a gusto known only in communities filled with honor and grace!

 

At its best, family truly is a celebrating community of honor and grace. Our goal at Honor Grace Celebrate is to give families the tools to build that community of honor and grace…to gain the knowledge that can help make their families a celebrating community of honor and grace. For practical ideas on making your family a celebrating community of honor and grace, you might enjoy our book Family By God’s Design. And, if you know someone who might benefit from this type of information, please pass it on so they can follow us on FaceBook or Twitter. Thank you. And may your family become a celebrating community overflowing with honor and grace!

The Secret to Family Peace

I discovered a secret to peaceful family life. I want to share it with you even though it is a secret. Perhaps you can share it with a few of your friends. Even if you choose to keep it our little secret, I think you will discover that this secret to a peaceful family life adds joy and contentment to your family. The secret comes in two parts. Ready? Here it is…the secret to a peaceful family: Seek peace and pursue it. Wait, don’t stop reading yet. I know it sounds like a trick. Too simplistic…just a gimmick. But take a moment and consider what it means to seek peace and pursue it.
 
First, seek peace. Have you ever misplaced something–maybe your cell phone, your glasses, or your favorite book? You know it’s somewhere in the house and you make an unending search for it. You retrace your steps. You think about where you might have left it. You look everywhere, even unlikely places like the refrigerator. You elicit the help of other family members. You may literally “turn the house up-side-down” until you find what was lost. You seek it out. Seek peace in the same manner. Search out and investigate family members to discover what will bring them peace and what will bring peace between you and them. Seek out information about the behaviors that create peace. Include the whole family in the search to find the behaviors, attitudes, and words that will bring peace. Through your seeking, you may find that speaking with kindness, practicing kindness, telling the truth, offering compliments, helping with chores, and other similar behaviors can create peace. Keep searching for more. Seek opportunities to speak these words of peace and to engage in these actions. Seek peace!
 
And second, pursue peace. Now that you have discovered some of the words and actions that lead to peace, pursue peace. Don’t just wait for opportunities to create peace, pursue them! Have you ever watched a child try to catch pigeons on the sidewalk? Or played a hearty round of “chase and catch” with your dog? Your dog jogs left and you follow suit. They back up and you pursue. They run to your right and you dive. You dart this way and that way in an effort to catch your dog. Wherever they go, you pursue. You invest energy, your whole body and mind in the moment, to pursue your dog. For your family’s sake, pursue peace in the same manner. Pursue peace with your whole self. Pursue those opportunities to show kindness. Pursue moments when you can speak words of kindness. If the opportunity for peace starts to pass you by, chase it down…dive on it and catch it. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by, take advantage of every opportunity for peace. Practice those words and deeds that lead to peace every opportunity you find…and pursue more opportunities.
 
Well, I guess the secret is out. To have a peaceful family, seek peace and pursue peace. One more thing—enjoy. Enjoy seeking for peace and those things that make for peace. Enjoy the pursuit of peace. Enjoy the rewards of living in the peaceful family that your actions and words will help create.

3 Parenting Skills to End Sibling Conflict

“Help. All my kids do is fight. There is constant conflict. What can I do?” If that sounds like your house, learn to R.A.P. No, I am not talking about learning to speak rhythmically against a background of rhythm instruments while practicing hip hop moves. My children would die of embarrassment if I tried. No, I’m not talking about a musical rap; I’m talking about three parenting skills that can reduce rivalry, competition, and jealousy between your child and their siblings or their peers. The acronym R.A.P. might help us remember these three skills. Let’s look at each one and see how they can help reduce conflict in the home.
  • Recognize each child’s unique contribution to your family and the world. Every child has unique strengths and abilities. Take time to notice those strengths and abilities. Notice what they do well. Pay attention to what brings them joy. Add those things that bring joy to your child into your interactions with him. Take time to notice what troubles your child as well. Observe what circumstances increase their stress. Help protect them from those situations that trouble them by teaching them coping skills, standing by them to resolve conflicts, or making appropriate changes. Recognize and acknowledge the actions, words, and behaviors that you admire in your child. 
  • Accept your child just as they are. Appreciate them for their unique personality. Acceptance and appreciation build a sense of security in your child. This sense of security promotes honesty as opposed to rivalry. Appreciating each child also gives them a sense of significance. It teaches them that their efforts make a difference; their actions in this world are meaningful. Remember, in order to truly feel appreciated, your child must first know you accept them. Without acceptance, verbal appreciation may come across as manipulation. Also don’t forget to appreciate effort above accomplishment. Let your children know that you accept them whether they successfully accomplish the goal or not. Accept them for who they are and acknowledge that their effort has an impact.
  • Peace keeper: work to maintain peace in your child’s world. Resolve conflicts and differences between your child and yourself. Teach your child to resolve conflicts with his or her siblings. Encourage your child to resolve conflicts and differences they have with peers. Peace-keeping demands that you model and teach negotiation skills, communication skills, and the ability to compromise. To the extent that you model peace-keeping and resolve conflicts, your child will experience an inner calm that allows them to learn and grow. Without peaceful relationships and calm resolution skills, you will find your child’s mind spinning, confused, and distracted. Do all you can to live at peace with one another.
Well, that’s a “R.A.P.” –three crucial parenting skills to reduce family conflict: recognize each child, accept each child, and strive to maintain peace. Practicing them is more difficult than writing about them. In fact, we all make mistakes and fall well short of perfection from time to time. But, practice makes perfect…well, practice results in improvement. At any rate, as you practice these roles you will find that fighting decreases and affection increases (in spite of our occasional mistakes)…and that is worth the “R.A.P.”  

“Shut Up & Put Up” to Ruin Your Marriage & Family

The “shut up and put up” strategy sounds inviting at first. You know, avoid the conflict and just go along for the sake of peace. After all, everyone enjoys a harmonious relationship filled with peace and quiet. Some people will put up with almost anything to keep the peace. “Little irritations…no big deal, I’d rather maintain harmony than rock the boat.” Unfortunately, those little irritations can pile up, getting heavier and heavier, until we feel smothered. In anger, we begin to lash out at minor irritations, packing them together into giant cannonballs that we can fire at our family. At that point, we know that the “shut up and put up” strategy has backfired and turned into a “lash out and stone ’em” reaction. The “lash out and stone ’em” reaction results in family pain and disconnection. If the “shut up and put up” strategy does not work, what’s a spouse to do?
 
Talk. Talk to your spouse about the behavior that bothers you; but, before you talk to your spouse, take time to think about the behavior and what it teaches you. Think about what you can learn from the irritating behavior about: yourself first and your spouse second. Here are some questions to guide your learning:
·         How does this behavior bother you? Why does it irritate you? Does it represent some desire or priority that you feel is missing in your life?
·         Does the behavior contribute to feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness? Does it make you feel unloved or unacceptable?
·         Does your reaction to this irritation have anything to do with past events in your life–events first experienced in your family of origin or previous romantic relationships?
·         What is your spouse’s intent in this behavior? What is their positive intent?
·         Is this behavior a response to your behavior? For instance, does your spouse engage in this behavior when you make certain statements, jokes, or expressions?
·         What are some ways your spouse makes you feel loved, accepted, and valued?
 
Once you take the time to learn what this situation can teach you about yourself and your spouse, talk to your spouse about it. Here is a simple way to approach this discussion. 
 
First, tell your spouse at least one thing you appreciate about them. If you know that they had some positive intent in the irritating behavior, acknowledge it. Thank them for the positive intent, positive behaviors, and positive investment they make in your relationship. Doing so sets the stage for a more congenial interaction. Your spouse will know that you approach them in love and they will feel safer opening up to you. They will have an easier time hearing what you have to say since they feel appreciated. In other words, let your first statements be statements of love and appreciation, setting the stage for an open and loving interaction.
 
Second, give a specific example of the behavior that bothers you. Make it brief. Limit yourself to only one or two sentences in which you explain that behavior. By giving a specific example you help to limit arguing. Most people will not argue about an objective event that occurred. By keeping your description of the behavior brief, you limit the desire to become defensive or just “shut down” as they listen.   
 
Third, make one statement that explains how this behavior makes you feel. Once again, only one statement. “When you do this, it makes me feel….” The specific example of the behavior is an objective description. This statement is a subjective feeling. Say it calmly, without accusation. Then move on to the fourth step.
 
Fourth, offer an alternative and more pleasing behavior that could accomplish the same goal. Offer a solution to the whole situation. Put it altogether and you get a simple, and brief, alternative to the “shut up and put up strategy.” Consider these two examples:
     ·         “I realize you avoid telling me some things because you don’t like to see me upset and you want me to feel better. I appreciate your concern for me. However, when you interrupt me while I’m explaining a troubling situation to you and offer a solution, I feel unimportant to you and devalued by you. If you could just listen to me and let me know you understand my feelings, I would really feel better.” 
     ·         “Honey, I know that you really like a neat house and I appreciate how beautiful you keep our home. You are a great home maker. However, when we come home after a lovely night out and you immediately start cleaning, I feel like the house is more important to you than I am. If you could sit down with me for a half hour and talk when we get home, I will help you clean afterwards.”
 
Give it a try and check out the results. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised!
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