You don’t have to live in this world long to know that Jesus’s words in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation,” are very true. It’s one thing to learn that truth for yourself, but it’s another thing to help your child when they begin to learn it. All of us have to process how we feel about, what we believe about, and what we are going to do with the hard things that we encounter. We want to give you some tracks to run on as you navigate discussing the hard things of this world with your kids.
1. Be open and honest.
It’s often tempting to dismiss the truth about the hard things, make light of them, avoid them, or even at times lie about hard things to “protect your child” or yourself. But hard truths are a part of living here on this planet. You aren’t doing your kids any favors by avoiding the conversation. Be honest with them and share the truth in an age-appropriate way. Share the necessary information and let them ask you questions. Their questions will guide you in understanding how much they want to know at that time.
2. Build trust in the Lord.
In the same verse that Jesus tells us there will be tribulation, He also says, “take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jesus is the answer for all of our troubles. When hard things come into your lives, teach your children that God can be trusted. He holds the world, and He is big enough for all of their fears. God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing Creator of everything. He is the ONLY sure foundation and will be with them long after they leave your home. There is no better gift you can give them.
3. Provide time and make space.
All people process in different ways. Depending on your child’s personality, age, and past history with hard things, their processing will vary and may take different amounts of time. Provide time for your child to ask you questions. At bedtime, spend a little longer with them in their room. Ask them periodically how they are doing or if they have more questions. Make time that’s free of other distractions for them to think and to have a safe space to process. Doing this builds their sense of security and fosters a deeper relationship of trust for them to ask whatever might come into their mind. And be sure at times to just listen and validate their feelings.
Life is hard. But God is good and greater than any hard thing that will come your way. Trust Him and rely on His Word as you walk with and teach your children in the midst of difficult situations.