A little over a week ago I had the privilege to speak and be a part of the first 1C13P HeartCORe Parenting Conference in Minneapolis. It was a great experience to have fellow members of our team speaking and discussing how to be the parent God wants us to be. Becky, Lori, Pete, Matt, and I each took a different approach with the crowd, with topics varying from family/marriage, parenting, and education all set in the context of faith. Our words and approaches were different. Our message was the same– life is filled with challenges, but it is through the trials we grow closer to God and closer to what He calls us to be.
Many of us know this fact from our own personal experiences, but do we recognize that our children must also go through trials, disappointments, and failure to grow stronger? For me this is the hardest part of parenting. I write and teach about student ownership and the need to “walk through” failure everyday but when it’s my own children it really hits home. To watch a child fail a test, be wronged by a friend, not make the team, or feel defeated…it is painful.
Many times the first instinct is to try to fix the child’s problem or soften the situation, to make the pain go away. And this is not just for our children but also for us. But what is that teaching our children? When we rescue them, they learn someone else will fix the problem, someone else will make the pain go away, or that someone else in to blame. These are not the attributes that will help children become a true leader in life or a true follower of God.
Instead, we need to start asking questions.
• When a child fails a test, ask how him studied. What could he do better next time? Require him to meet with his teacher to learn from that failing grade. Help him set a new plan for the next test and follow up periodically.
• With a hurt relationship, ask how you can help her personally, not calling the parents or other children, but just help your child. Prayer, more time together, hugs, or maybe just sitting with her while they cry it out will show empathy.
• When the child feels defeated in any area of life, ask him to find something he is most proud of about himself. This helps to develop confidence in the midst of a tough time.
Going through trials is not easy but it is through these trials that we all can learn more about ourselves and develop characteristics of tenacity, responsibility, and confidence to move forward. These experiences can be gifts, true blessings, that God gives to not only help us in the future but also others. As a parent, we deeply desire to shield our children from pain because we love them. The focus is to be on loving them through the pain by helping them to feel safe and secure before, during, and after the hard times. Timeless examples are in God’s Word for us to use as examples. Because God does this for us, we can do the same for our children.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love
has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,
who has been given to us.
By Megan Stone, M.Ed.
Wife to Rick
Mom of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.
Author of Own Your Education! A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (And Life)