Boys and girl throwing autumn leaves overhead

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Thanksgiving becomes more and more commercialized every year. A quick google search pulled these article headlines up in less than .5 seconds.

“Ten Sanity-Saving Thanksgiving Tips, Tricks and Hacks”

“Home Sweet Home: How to make the most of Thanksgiving Weekend”

“4 Ways to Make This Thanksgiving the Easiest and Most Fun Yet”

The consumeristic world we live in has set high standards for Thanksgiving and they seem to get higher every year. Instead of placing the greatest value on making sure your home is clean for relatives or that you have the best spread of food, what if this Thanksgiving our focus was on how to create the most space for Christ and enjoying the people (ie. teenagers) He has placed around us? People over things. We polled some parents of teenagers in the student ministry to hear their insight as to how to capitalize on the time that God has given them off from school with their teens. We hope their words stir up some ideas in you for how to make the most of the Thanksgiving break with your teen!

GET OUTSIDE.

Our family plans a moratorium on electronic devices for a day or two. Take the time off of devices and spend some time outdoors at a park, White Rock Lake or the arboretum. Another way to spend your time would be to pick something kind to do for an elderly neighbor and do it as a family. This could either be making a meal, cleaning the yard, or anything really. Kids just want TIME with their parents and their families. My guys will be begging us all to go to the park and play soccer or football every single day! As for keeping the gospel central, the word we have been focusing on with our kids is FIRSTFRUITS. God deserves our first, our BEST, not the leftovers. This has led to good discussion of how to apply this in our daily lives.

–Maria Harris

OPEN HOME, OPEN HEARTS.

We always make time to share what we’re thankful for, but try to go beyond that too. Something we have already discussed with our family is the fact that we have dedicated our home to the Lord to use for his will. Our family is full of unbelievers and are not always easy to be around. So when asked if we would host, it was a non-issue. Of course! My kids know that this is an opportunity to show love, lots of patience, kindness and to be the light. There are 10 unchurched family members coming to our house and we will have all day to honor them, listen to them, serve them and love on them. Because we are called to and the love of Christ compels us to. Our family verse is Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”-Allie Melbert

– Allie Melbert

EMBRACE THE HANG TIME.

Don’t make it a project week–as in cleaning their rooms or redoing the landscaping (no matter how bad it needs it). Give them time and a place to hang out with their friends or even host a Friendsgiving for their friends. –Karen Probasco

GIVE THEM A BREAK.

Thanksgiving is right before finals, which is stressful. I would let them chill, don’t talk school. Let them hang with friends, but expect them to be with family when there is a scheduled family activity. Include them in the cooking if they want. Involve them in the table setting. I have four teenagers and they all do something to contribute to our Thanksgiving celebration. My husband and I try to remind ourselves and the kids that anything we have is given and can go away tomorrow. Be grateful, be content, layup treasures in heaven. -Stephanie Spitaletto

STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE.

Something our family does before Thanksgiving is work out a no-electronics plan. We let our daughter be a part of the planning of this. We all mutually agree to spend time without electronics. This sets clear expectations and lets her feel some ownership. Also, we seek to spend time every day doing something together as a family. For example, we have picked movies that we all want to see. When we leave the house, we won’t pull our phones out unless an emergency call needs to be made. –Kemberly Wilshire

BE INTENTIONAL.

Keeping the gospel central is something that can be really hard to do with all the busyness, and must be intentional. Otherwise it will never happen! I think that this could happen with a discussion of why the pilgrims came in the first place, desiring religious freedom. We always try to have discussions with our kiddos about all we have to be thankful for. It usually starts with material things, but we always seek to make the conversation go deeper. My husband always makes sure that we move the discussion from what we consider blessings to the source of those blessings–Jesus. That always leads to a discussion of the Gospel and how thankful we are for what Jesus has done for us. I really believe that planning a time for the family to sit down together is best, but sometimes these convos can be prompted by the Spirit. Being sensitive to the Spirit and taking opportunities as He provides them always leads to the very best and most productive times of family worship! –Georiga Kruse


We hope these tips are helpful for you and will enable you to enjoy intentional time with your teenager, and family as a whole, this Thanksgiving break. In Christ we have much to be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving from our Heights Student team to you and your family!