7. Share Your Own Struggles
Slide 5 of 5
When our kids (or anyone, really) are struggling, the last thing they want to hear is, “I know how you feel,” followed by our own story of heartbreak or disappointment. But after we have offered other forms of comfort, it can be useful to give them perspective—to let them know that, while what they are going through is uniquely theirs, there are also pieces of it that resemble what others, including their parents, have gone through. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT).
Looking at us, our kids can see living proof that the waters indeed did not sweep over us, nor did the flames consume us (Isaiah 43:2 NIV), and neither will the fire or the flood consume or sweep over them if they cling to faith in the Rock that is higher than they (Psalm 61:2 NIV).
8. Give Them Perspective
The part of our children’s brains that can think very far into the future does not fully develop until they are about 25 years old. For this reason, when our kids are experiencing heartache, they may be inclined to think it will never get better, that this trial is the sum total of their existence for the foreseeable future. (To be honest, I do the same thing, and I am well beyond 25 years old.)
At this point in parenting, I’ve found one phrase to be reliably helpful: “this is not your whole story.” Whatever is troubling our kids at any given time is not all there is to their lives, and it is all is not all there ever will be to their lives. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV). This promise speaks of process, which often cannot be rushed, so our role as parents is to help our kids hold onto hope while God is adding onto the structure of good work He began building in them when their lives began.
My daughter’s head healed quickly from her run-in with the fireplace hearth. Many years later, though, when her heart was broken, recovery took much longer. Our kids’ emotional pain is often slow to repair. But we can comfort our kids with words and actions, encouraging them to fix their eyes on Jesus, who endured pain of every kind “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV). And then we hand off to them the baton of hope that joy is set before them, too.
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