Parenting 101: Navigating These Trying Times

Encouragement for Parents

By guest author Kimberly Henderson

He sat on the bench, unwilling to participate in his first soccer game. The four-year-old looked cute in his new uniform, but there was nothing cute about his stubbornness. Despite pleas from his mom and dad, and yes there was an attempt at bribery, that four-year old was not going to play soccer. The ride home was quiet, and no reasons were given for this stubbornness and disobedience. Later in the afternoon, my son quietly and timidly revealed the reason for his hesitancy to play soccer – there were people on the field that he did not know! Ok. No, wait. What?? In all the practices and drills and game day preparations, he somehow missed a key component of competition – there are two teams required for a game. Shocked at how he could not know this and even more appalled at why that was a problem at all, that day I learned a lot about expectations. My son had expected one thing – to play with his teammates. However, reality did not meet his expectations when the other team took the field, and to him the only option was to sit on the sideline.

Unmet expectations can wreck a kid’s day.

Fast forward a decade to the spring of 2020, and I find myself and my family, along with the rest of the world, with expectations that are not being met. Expectations not met in a person’s life can manifest in disappointment, disengagement or even depression. Overnight, the enemy, who seeks to kill, steal and destroy, turned the world upside down. For our students expectations began to crumble: lost sport seasons, missed graduation ceremonies, and canceled recitals, classes and trips. As a parent my expectations cascaded down as well, from the simple – why is there no toilet paper in the store – to the complicated – how are we going to manage school and work simultaneously from inside these four walls? Even church services, a weekly source of encouragement and community, were limited. At times, I felt like I was watching life from the sidelines. 

As we navigate these situations and emotions brought about by a worldwide pandemic, it is important for us as parents to engage our students in conversation and in the Word. Ask your student about how they feel amid the changes and uncertainty. Remind them that their feelings do not define them or determine truth – the word of God does. Point them to Jesus, the One who is for them (Romans 8:31), the One who never changes (Hebrews 13:8), the One who began a good work in them and will complete it (Philippians 1:6). Two practical ways to point your students to Jesus is through studying the Bible together and practicing thankfulness.

As you disciple your student, remember the importance of spending time together reading the Bible. What seems like a simple step, if woven throughout the course of our days and weeks, will gird our students with truth and equip them for all things the Lord has planned for them. 

All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 

As we read the stories of God’s faithfulness throughout the Old Testament and traverse the New Testament and marvel at Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, our students will have a foundation for making wise decisions and find their identity and security as a follower of Christ, not the fleeting pleasures and hollow promises of the world that can be gone overnight. 

Another practical way to point your student to Jesus is to practice thankfulness as a family. All of our families have been impacted by the coronavirus in some way – from minor inconveniences for some to major, heart-breaking losses for others. Wherever you are, know that the Lord sees you, and is near. He will comfort and bring peace. 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Even in our darkest nights we can give thanks to the One who is with us in the trials and storms and disappointments. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As we give thanks as a family for even small things it helps parents and students alike to remember God’s faithfulness and His promise to always be with us. 

Despite the enemy’s attempts to sideline us all from living the life we are called to in Christ, the gospel will not be bound (2 Timothy 2:9), and His Word will accomplish what He sends it forth to do (Isaiah 55:11). Engage your students in conversation. Encourage them with the Word of God. Jesus knows what to expect in this life. He warned his disciples what was to come, yet comforted them with a promise of peace. Today we are also warned and comforted by His words.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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