I Saw a Counselor About My Difficult Child. She Asked Me One Question That Changed Everything

Did someone say attitude?

As I poured out my struggles to my counselor, I could feel her understanding and support. When I paused, she asked me one question: “When you pray for Josiah, what do you pray for?” Oh, I had a lot to say. I prayed he’d find his center, make good choices, avoid disaster, follow Jesus. I prayed I would know how to parent him. I prayed…

“What do you thank God for about Josiah?”

My counselor gently interrupted. “What do you thank God for about Josiah?” she asked. I blinked. I had been too busy crying out for help to spend a lot of time in thankfulness.

“Next time you pray for Josiah,” my counselor suggested, “try thanking God for what’s good and right about him. It will change your perspective and help you understand him.”

Every now and then, you hear something that is absolutely simple, absolutely true, and perfectly timed to change you. This was one of those times. My counselor was right. Practicing gratitude for my son profoundly alters my perspective and eases my anxiety.

When we give thanks, specifically, for the good we see in our children, we begin to see who they truly are. We glimpse them as God made them to be – his masterpieces – and we get a vision for what they can become. Those parts of our children that infuriate us, that break our heart – we realize that they don’t define them, nor do they define our relationship with them. We begin to view our children through the lens of compassion rather than frustration. We remember that they are gifts, and that God treasures them – and he is just as invested as we are in their future and their becoming.

Josiah is 14 now, and the force of puberty is strong with him. He’s beginning high school next year in a large public school. We have not given up petition for this boy! But I have to remember not to start and end there.


Heather McDaniel
Heather McDaniel grew up in Bangladesh and Kenya, with some states in between. Her husband works for the Indian Health Service, and they’re currently rooting themselves and their three kids in western Washington soil. She loves the ocean, being surprised by beauty, and ice cream. Heather earned a degree in Christian Ed like her mom’s, followed by a degree in public health like her dad’s, but is finally learning that she is called to a path uniquely her own. She writes about the delight and terror of life, parenting, and walking with Jesus at her blog, delightwithterror.blogspot.com.

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